A Melville business has run into opposition as it tries to start a passenger bus service to fill in for the now-defunct Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC).
Diane Smith, owner of DiCal Transport, told Gormley her company was supposed to begin offering passenger service along Highway 10 between Yorkton and Regina June 1.
But that hope has been dashed as the company’s permit application with the province’s Highway Traffic Board has stalled.
Smith explained that her company, which already runs a courier service, submitted a detailed package of business and safety information to the board in order to get a permit to operate as a commercial passenger service.
She said the board gave her preliminary approval, subject to the application being publicly posted in the board’s gazette, giving people 21 days to lodge any objections.
All told, Smith said her application has been contested eight times. She said three of those challenges came from various lawyers, and five were filed by private individuals.
Smith said she was disappointed to learn none of the objections came from anyone in the Melville area. She said it was frustrating to have to navigate further hearings after already putting together an exhaustive report for the board.
“If I’m meeting those standards, why can’t I offer this service?”
The challenges to DiCal’s proposed bus service appear to come from parties opposed to the provincial government’s decision to close down STC in the last budget.
Among those who registered objections: Joanne Jaffe, a vocal activist with the Save STC group in the run-up to the closure, Cindy Hanson with the Stop the Cuts protest group and lawyer James Fyshe, who works on behalf of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents STC workers.
Smith said a letter from Fyshe threatened legal action if DiCal proceeded with the bus service.
The board will hold a hearing on the issue on June 6 in Regina.
With the board having up to 14 days to deliver a decision after that, Smith said the earliest DiCal could start taking passengers would likely be sometime in mid-July, assuming the board rules in their favour.
Smith said DiCal has a lawyer and is bracing for the prospect of having to go to court should a favourable board ruling be appealed.
“We’ve definitely thought about it, we’re definitely prepared for it. At the end of the day it comes down to being able to offer the service to the people in our area,” she said.
In the meantime, Smith said the company has a brand-new passenger coach sitting empty, and she has been turning away dozens of people looking to book tickets.
“I’m not going to start the service illegally, so we haven’t been able to offer the service,” she said.