“All of these hitchhikers indicated that they would have taken the bus if they were able.”
On my way to La Ronge last weekend, I picked up a nice young hitchhiker just outside of P.A. and took him to La Ronge. On the way back, I drove a hitchhiker from La Ronge to P.A. and picked another up outside P.A. and drove him to Saskatoon. All of these hitchhikers indicated that they would have taken the bus if they were able.
Comment to the Save STC Facebook page from July 3, 2018 posted here with permission.
“…we simply wait, keeping our equipment idle and jobs incomplete”
I work at an environmental company halfway between Saskatoon and Regina. As you can imagine, being in a small town, every time we need a specific part (bearing/bolt/hydraulic hose or even printer paper or ink) not carried by our local farm supply, we need to run into the city for it. If we order parts or supplies from the city businesses, I have to pick it up on Monday mornings during our scheduled parts run. So many times, I hear “we’re sold out right now” (or “the delivery truck didn’t arrive yet”) but “we can have one here for you tomorrow morning” which is a real frustration because Tuesday morning means we’re waiting a full WEEK, or making a 3-4 hour round trip to the city and back, costing paid employee hours and fuel. The alternative is we simply wait, keeping our equipment idle and jobs incomplete. It’s inconvenient both ways.
Before the STC shut down we could ask most businesses to “send it on the bus” and it would arrive by 9:30 the next morning, generally for about $20, and we’d pick it up at the local gas station. This was an efficient, convenient way to get parts from out of town. We realize that there are some courier services, but the amount of co-ordination and cost is more. (Who is coming into town? When? What’s the cost? Are they cleared to pick up parcels on our behalf? Who signs for it? What if it doesn’t show up? Why aren’t they answering the phone right now?) To busy small businesses with limited, overworked staff, this is a real headache.
Not only that, travel is impacted in all small towns. Many seniors or people without a vehicle or licence are basically marooned in their communities. My mother in law complained to me last week that her sister never visits from Nipawin anymore, because she can’t get to Saskatoon or back. (If there is an alternative she’s not aware of it.) They’re both in their late 70s and neither drives anymore. This is creating isolation and a breakdown of emotional and psychological connection, which in turn has shows to lead to increased heath issues, particularly with lonely seniors. Imagine being separated from your family for months on end because there is no way of getting to them. Even third-world countries had public transportation to help people move about and connect.
For us in middle age, even going to the airport from a small town is an issue. You are now forced to park your car for $100/week if you go away, as opposed to taking the bus to the city. Or you need to depend on someone driving and dropping your off, again a minimum four- hour chunk our of anyone’s day, plus fuel. Each way. It’s the same if you need to travel for work or a family event and you simply don’t have a second family vehicle or a licence.
I know there are dozens of other examples where it is even more imperative that people have the ability to get out of town without resorting to dangerous practices like hitchhiking. The plight of abused women and children who wish to escape hostile home lives or communities comes to mind. What do they do if they cannot leave to save their lives? Who is responsible if they are forced to stay put? Or engage in equally risky behaviour to get out? It would be a no-win situation for them.
In a nutshell, the STC didn’t make money, understood. But some things are services that don’t need to turn a cash profit. Like roads, libraries and helplines, they simply add to the quality of life for people in our communities. This is particularly important in a huge, rural space like Saskatchewan where distances are great and isolation is all too easy. To remove transportation from that equation is like taking away clean drinking water. It would be unthinkable in most of the western world to be told you can no longer move from one community to another without owning and maintaining a private vehicle. Just saying it out load sounds ridiculous, like some fictional upper-class society rule that keeps the disadvantaged and elderly in place.
I hope this statement helps with your challenge to prove that public transportation in a large and spread out province like Saskatchewan is not a luxury, but a lifeline.
Submitted by Michele Kiss on June 13, 2018
“…wrong direction for the province to take…”
I have missed one opportunity to visit my grandchildren in Regina, a 5 hour drive, that is nice to take the bus because of the long drive. If I have to drive 2.5 hours to catch a bus in Saskatoon, I might as well drive the whole distance. This is the wrong direction for the province to take, taking away our transportation rural service, and increasing green house gases.
Submitted by Marcella Pedersen, July 2017
“The people I traveled with – the students, the elderly, the poor, the sick, the migrants – they have all been abandoned, we have all been abandoned.”
I come from a sun-burnt country. Its highways are flat and sometimes you can drive for a long time, the horizon far ahead of you and the road a long straight line between you and the setting sun. And so one fall day, here in the Saskatchewan north, I was unprepared for the heavy slush that thickly coated the winding and bumpy highway. My car spun out, twisting round and round, the tires giving out from under me, my fate resting silently on the blessed relief of an empty highway. I was alive but a part of me became broken that day. Whenever I tried to get back behind the wheel of a car and drive on a highway, my heart would race, my palms would feel slippery and untethered on the steering wheel. I would feel faint and it would take every ounce of energy I had to stop myself from breaking down right there with my vehicle going 100 kilometres an hour.
This was inconvenient since I lived in the North, that frozen forgotten place far from the Saskatchewan prairies. But it was not a tragedy because there was STC. I was living in an isolated place but I was not isolated. If I needed to go down South, I could line up on a crisp clear winter morning when the pink sky seemed to touch us all and I could get a bus. The driver would load our luggage up and we’d slowly filter into the bus settling ourselves into its comfortable seats, hooking up our phones, our tablets to the onboard WiFi. Then off we’d go. I would sit back and watch Saskatchewan pass me by; the forests, the prairies, the city traffic. It was a great way to travel and it would feel good to know I was connected from this place to that place.
When the SaskParty dismantled STC, they cut the heart out of Saskatchewan. The people I traveled with – the students, the elderly, the poor, the sick, the migrants – they have all been abandoned, we have all been abandoned. We scramble now, putting up desperate posts on Facebook looking for rides, humbly asking our friends, our family to take time off work to transport us where we need to go. Sometimes we just don’t go anywhere at all. This province, this large expansive province with its big lakes and blue skies, its long highways and fields of grass, this province now lies shrinking, its bleeding heart slowly fading. And yet, still, they do not know. Or perhaps they do but they do not care. This then is the tragedy.
Submitted on May 5, 2018 by Jacqui Lim
“STC connected Saskatchewan and now those connections are broken.”
** The photo was taken in downtown Watson, Saskatchewan. Watson was a major transfer point for freight and passengers with three busses twice a day. **
Recently Saskatchewan people were asked to share what the loss of STC means to the people of our province. Here are just a few responses.
“Losing STC is for me a big loss because I can not see my friends and family that used to visit me on a regular basis ……..they came on the bus and went home on the bus……… we would see each other 3 or 4 times a year for a few days now we talk on the phone but that is not the same I so miss the visits and as we get older this is so important I do not know when or if I will ever be able to see them again.”
“I’m angry about the scrapping of what my parents & grandparents built up over their lifetimes, and used quite often. And also that my aunt (from BC, visiting in Lloydminster) & I couldn’t affordably or feasibly go visit my other aunt in Regina last fall. The aunt in Regina passed away a few months after we would have gone. Also angry at the underhanded way STC was dismantled, instead of trying to make it work better. We could have used it to reduce our carbon footprint, as well.”
“Losing the STC is the biggest loss for me. It feels like I’ve lost my independence. Now I just feel like I’m a prisoner trapped in my own city. I now have to rely on friends, family or my husband to go see my other family. I got married last summer and so I had to meet my mom in Davidson to go the rest of the way to Saskatoon then to come back to Regina. I met my (fiancé at the time) in Davidson. I don’t drive so that’s why I used STC. I have developed a few great relationships with some of the drivers. These drivers became like family to me.”
“I was the last operator (bus driver) to have the route between Regina and Moose Jaw every weekday morning for Sask. Poly (SIAST). I know fully what that service meant to the many students of all ages who commute with me everyday to get to school while only paying 300 per month for their passes. When they heard about the closure they were all disappointed and worried about what their future would hold in order to afford to continue their education. I hope they found another means of transportation and were able to complete their educations.”
“Losing STC for me meant to lose the possibility of teaching in La Ronge, but for many, many of my former students means “to have to pray” that someone is going to PA or Saskatoon and the difficulties to go back on time. No way of visiting the hospitals where they (have) relatives, etc. Working together meant to recover the sense of community in the city and the sense of possibility, connection, autonomy, and faith in the province.”
“For me, the STC was a safe, comfortable trip to Saskatoon to visit family and do some shopping. We also thought we could rely on it to get to medical appointments in the city, if needed. This has been a long winter with poor road conditions and it has been hard for those who are not confident drivers or don’t drive at all.”
“STC was how I got to my clients anywhere and everywhere in Saskatchewan. I am a pet/home sitter.”
“STC connected Saskatchewan and now those connections are broken. My Mom is a senior who lives in rural Sask. and she used STC to travel back and forth to the city. It was an affordable, safe and comfortable way for her to travel. Many seniors do not drive on the highway and now they are stuck.”
“So many wonderful trips across the prairie enjoying honest and true conversations with strangers. I had a longtime dream to do a mobile artist residency on STC. A potential artist residency is a small thing to lose, but it’s still so sad.”
“For me, the loss of STC has meant isolation from my grown children and grandchildren and this is after having moved 2000 miles to get here to be closer to them. It has meant increased worry about one son who has severe problems and who we now can no longer get to us quickly when he needs us; real worry for his life in sub-zero temperatures when he is on the streets. Before we lost the STC, we had used it to get him back and forth several times when he would be willing. It has also meant increased dependence on others to get to the city for mandated annual cancer screening. Following the SAVE STC group, on the other hand, has allowed me to know that I am not alone, that there is a place that my voice, joined with others, can be heard, that I have agency and that there may be hope that we can make a difference.”
“As an immigrant to Canada, I was raised with a fierce sense of pride in Saskatchewan: my beloved province, home of medicare, land of loving, caring people who know the true meaning of neighbourliness and co-operation. I have been this province’s greatest advocate for sixty years. It is terribly sad that as a result of the (government’s) ideology, I have lost that pride.”
“I just don’t understand how a group of people can think destroying a mass transit system is good for any society. Around the world countries, provinces, states territories have a mass transit system. In Saskatchewan we have chosen cars and trucks over mass transit. Europe is so advanced in their rail system. Canada in land mass is huge comparing to our European friends and family. We have a limited expensive rail system and in Sask. we have no bus to travel our province. I have partial sight due to macular degeneration. I don’t or will not drive, I cannot leave Saskatoon unless someone will drive. I feel like Sask. society is again saying “WELL IT DOESN’T AFFECT ME, SO WHY WOULD I CARE”.”
“Losing the STC has been brutal for me too. I used this bus through my whole life and we retired back in small town Sk. thinking I could take the bus into the city any time. I have my driver’s license, but would not want to drive in the city.”
“Now that my sight is only partial, I cannot leave Saskatoon, unless someone drives , as I currently will not drive. I will not be contributing to tourism dollars in Sask. I will fly to another province or country, for vacations. I cannot go on my own to visit family or friends in another community , because (the government) decided to cancel our mass transit system.”
Shared here with permission.
“I really can’t believe that in 2018 I can’t get transportation to visit my own family in Canada.”
“Hi, I am coming back to Saskatchewan from living overseas to visit my parents in Humboldt. They are old and do not drive. I normally fly to Saskatoon and then catch an STC to Humboldt. But now I do not know how I will get there.
I cannot afford to rent a car as my stay will be too long and I’ve spent thousands on my flights already. I cannot hitchhike as I will have suitcases. Is there ANYTHING in place at all to fill these gaps? Is there a particular website that the majority of people use to find a rideshare? And is it likely to find a rideshare or is this not an effective option to rely on?
Thank you in advance for any ideas.”
And later….”I guess the reality is I will make it back to Humboldt to see my parents even less now. I really can’t believe that in 2018 I can’t get transportation to visit my own family in Canada. I have lived all over the world, in many non-G20 countries, and no where have I ever not been able to get transport. It’s really just so heartbreaking that this is the current state of Saskatchewan. If anyone wants to share my story, feel free.”
Posted to the Save STC Facebook page on February 5, 2018 by Samsara Soleil, shared with permission.
Graphic by Alice Csuka – June 2017