When the Saskatchewan Transportation Service shuts down at the end of May rural residents are concerned bus routes they depend on will disappear for good.
Many use the bus service to reach critical health appointments in cities like Regina and Saskatoon. The province is confident those routes will be picked up by private companies.
Joe Hargrave Minister Responsible says they have already seen some interest.
“There was a company that phoned our office asking what the procedure would be,” says Hargrave. “We referred them to the highway traffic board.”
Hargrave says they are confident they will receive offers from a major bus company to take over some of STC’s routes.
“We are optimistic there will be other services provided by private entrepreneurs or private organizations or services clubs,” says Hargrave. “Right now we have numerous private contracts in the north that service through La Loche, from La Ronge down to Shellbrooke to Saskatoon. So, I’m thinking a lot of those entrepreneurs will continue that.”
However, The provincial NDP say the province’s decision to end STC is one that is going to affect many rural Saskatchewan residents negatively .
Trent Wotherspoon Interim Leader of the NDP says many residents depended on the province wide bus service.
“The farms and the businesses,” says Wotherspoon. “The families and the seniors. This is a service that connects our big province. And it connects people to things like healthcare. It’s a lifeline for so many.
Hargrave says Saskatchewan is the only province currently operating a province wide bus service like STC.
In the Saskatchewan Legislature Thursday, Premier Brad Wall says a decision to stop STC bus service and lay-off 250 people did not come easy.
Wall says the decision was difficult but ridership had declined significantly.
“As ridership declines and the costs increase, that per-passenger subsidy is well up over 90-dollars,” said Premier Brad Wall. “Almost 100-dollars per passenger, Mr. Speaker. And at some point you have to ask the question; is that the core function of government? To subsidize to 90-dollars per passenger for the bus company?”