Stranded after release from hospital without STC.

“…staff tried to do everything they could to help me but wouldn’t allow a 60 year old man to hitchhike home…”

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About a month ago, I was taken to Prince Albert Hospital by ambulance. I live alone, no family and I keep to myself in town. When I was released, the staff tried to do everything they could to help me but wouldn’t allow a 60 year old man to hitchhike home after being released. I do not have any friends or even associates in town who I would call to make a trip of 225 kms each way to get me, a whole day. I really do keep to myself. I was forced to take a taxi halfway from PA to Melfort where I could meet up with someone who happened to be in town on an errand. There has been no bus service replaced to Tisdale, Hudson Bay or Porcupine Plain.

 

Submitted by Bruce on May 26, 2019

Saskatchewan people continue to face risks without STC.

“The two women were on their way to Prince Albert for their daily methadone doses.”

Submitted to the STC Facebook page on May 20, 2019 shared here with permission:

“We picked up two Indigenous women hitchhiking today just south of Christopher Lake. Here is their tragic story as they told it.

The two women were on their way to Prince Albert for their daily methadone doses. Both are recovering addicts who have, since December, been hitchhiking daily from a reserve (intentionally unnamed) near Christopher Lake to Prince Albert — and yes some days they almost walk the whole distance.

The story is doubly tragic because in addition to not having a bus and having to hitchhike, there is a medical van/taxi from the rez but because they are/were considered addicts, they can’t get on it. Although this is likely illegal and certainly unethical, we know similar things are happening in many communities.

In so many ways the end of the STC has compounded people’s lives … particularly women, those with mobility issues, seniors, and Indigenous people. If you have time to do something about it, please act (phone, email, talk, vote, advocate, etc).”

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Editor’s note:  Across social media, when citizens share stories of hardship without public transit in Saskatchewan, commenters say ‘get over it’, or ‘quit flogging a dead horse’.  As long as stories like this continue to emerge, they will find a place for publication on this stories blog.  

 

Without STC, Saskatchewan people are forced to hitchhike.

“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.

STC closure creates economic hardship for rural business owners.

“…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

Missing the grandkids without STC

“…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

A Lament For STC

“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