One year after the closure of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC), former passengers say they’re “at a loss” without it.
The Saskatchewan Party government announced the closure of the 70-year old provincial bus company in the 2017-18 austerity budget, saying it would save $85 million over the next five years.
The government hoped the private sector would step in to fill the gap in service, but twelve months later that hasn’t happened to any great degree.
Long-time STC user passenger Jamie Ellis says he’s “trapped” without STC.
“My freedom has been taken away, please bring back STC,” Ellis urged. “Without STC I am in prison.”
He was among a group of people with disabilities speaking at the Saskatchewan legislature in May.
Ellis recalled that last July he had a medical trip to Saskatoon and spent $350 on a cab trip. He was reimbursed by the government but was left out of pocket for several weeks. He said that’s just one example of how the closure of STC meant the loss of his independence.
There are just two companies offering scheduled passenger service but they aren’t province-wide and often for Ellis are unusable.
“A lot of the buses that are out there providing the service aren’t wheelchair accessible.”
Ellis was one of the advocates that campaigned for accessible buses in STC’s fleet.
Minister Joe Hargrave hoped in time the private sector would fill the gap as well as rideshare programs like Uber and Lyft.
“I have empathy for anybody who struggles to get transportation somewhere and they are depending on family,” Hargrave said in response. “We’re optimistic that these things will work out, and people will find themselves rides throughout the province.”