As Greyhound gets ready to pull its service out of Western Canada, we’re getting a better picture of how much the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) wind-down cost the province.
As part of its annual report released on Friday, the Crown Investments Corporation (CIC) said closing the company had cost $6.9 million up to March 31, 2018.
The vast majority of that money was for employee severance and arbitration, at $5.8 million.
Minister responsible for CIC, Joe Hargrave, said he’s comfortable with what the wind-down has cost – that it had to be done professionally and as openly as possible.
Hargrave said especially when it comes to employees, the government didn’t argue with the arbitrator decision a few months ago which said some of the employees were owed more money.
“We never argued with that, we just said ‘if that’s what you feel is right.’ Because we wanted to make sure that those employees were right,” said Hargrave.
The CIC has been selling off the STC’s assets over the past year, bringing in $27.6 million. There is still one building which has to be sold, the Regina maintenance facility, which has a book value of about $2 million according to the province.
The STC required an operating grant of $11.55 million this year, which is less than the $17.1 million it would have needed in a full year.
The corporation ended up paying $22 million in dividends to the CIC in 2017-18.
After the current fiscal year 2018-19, the STC is expected to be completely finished.
Minister cites declining bus ridership
During the meeting on the annual report, Minister Hargrave said he wasn’t surprised when Greyhound announced it would be ending its services in most of Western Canada.
He said the bus industry is struggling with declining ridership across North America.
Hargrave cited a report the government did on STC ridership, saying lowering airfare prices and more people having their own vehicles contributed to a decline. But he also said the murder of Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus in Manitoba in 2008 played a part.
“It would be a number of years ago when there was that murder on the bus in Manitoba and it seemed to be the tipping point of ridership really started to drop like a rock after that.”
In 2008 and 2009 ridership on STC buses did see a big decline. An STC report from the first quarter of 2009, provided by the provincial government, cites the murder specifically as a reason for reductions in ridership. However, ridership rebounded a bit in 2010 and 2011, adding more than 15,000 passengers in 2011 over the 2007 numbers.
Numbers started to decline again in 2012, beginning a steady drop in riders until the company’s closure in 2017.