STC closure a blow for local bus riders

The STC bus bound for Regina is seen leaving the Davidson bus depot in this file photo.

The STC bus bound for Regina is seen leaving the Davidson bus depot in this file photo.

By Joel van der Veen

DAVIDSON — For Gloria Williams and others like her, the STC is more than just the bus. It’s a means of independence.

Williams, a Davidson resident, said she regularly uses the bus to travel to Saskatoon or Moose Jaw for medical appointments, or to buy material for her quilting.

Since the local bus stop was moved to the east side of Highway 11 five years ago, she’s had to ask people for rides there and back, something she hates doing.

“There’s nothing worse than pestering people,” said Williams. “I want to go and do it on my own.”

For Williams and those like her, the province’s announcement Wednesday that the STC would be shut down by the end of May was a significant blow.

Crown investments minister Joe Hargrave said Wednesday that the government would end operating and capital subsidies to the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) for the coming fiscal year.

The company will close as a result, with freight being accepted for delivery until May 19 and passenger services ending May 31.

In a news release, Hargrave said the subsidies from the government had reached “unsustainable levels.”

Ten years ago, the government paid $25 in subsidies per passenger, but the cost has since increased to $94 per passenger.

The STC would require $85 million in subsidies to continue operating over the next five years, Hargrave said, adding that the government believes that money would be better spent elsewhere.

Arm River MLA Greg Brkich echoed those sentiments in an interview with the Leader on Wednesday afternoon, saying the government could not keep subsidizing STC at that level.

“How long are we going to keep doing it every year?” he said. “You have to make some tough decisions.”

Brkich said he recognized it would affect residents in his riding — maybe one or two in each town, he guessed.

Williams said she was angered by the announcement. She knows other people in town, both seniors and younger residents, who rely on the bus.

For the full story, plus additional coverage of the 2017 Saskatchewan provincial budget, please see the March 27 edition of The Davidson Leader, or call 306-567-2047 to subscribe today.

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