The Highway Traffic Board has approved another private transportation company to help pick up where STC left off.
After four months of waiting for the go-ahead, Saskatoon-based Forward Coach Lines and Parcel Service has joined Melville-based DiCal Transport and Regina-based Rider Express Transportation, which were both approved at the end of June.
Owner Hasan Topal said the vision to start the transportation service came to mind earlier this year, before STC stopped running in May.
“The idea was to provide the same service, but with smaller vehicles to make it more efficient and provide more comfort to passengers — as opposed to those big buses,” he said.
Forward Coach will have routes travelling between Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert and North Battleford.
Fares will range from $20 to $45, and a parcel service will also be available with rates varying in price.
Topal said, by the end of the week, he hopes to hire local people to drive his three 15-passenger Mercedes vans.
Despite being a private company, Topal assures CJME that Forward Coach will have to follow the same safety regulations within the Highway Traffic Board that STC once did.
“The same standards are still in effect,” he said. “It’s not that someone just comes in and purchases buses and runs a service.”
Similar to STC, Topal said they have two of their own buildings that will be used as pick-up locations — one in downtown Saskatoon, and another in Regina at the old paint store on 2735 Saskatchewan Drive.
After moving from Trabzon, Turkey 15 years ago, Topal added that his new transportation company is filling more than just the gap left behind by STC. Personally, he said his father owns and operates a passenger service overseas, and added that it means a lot to his family to be doing the same here in Saskatchewan.
“I’m happy to continue the tradition over here, but I can tell you that my father is happier,” he said.
Forward Coach Lines and Parcel Service is set to start running next Monday.