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Wednesday, 11 December 2013 14:49

Gov’t stands behind bus service decision

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When we were first elected, our government made a commitment to the people of Saskatchewan: to balance the budget and spend responsibly.
Our decision to discontinue under-utilized bus routes falls in line with that commitment. No government likes to cut services to citizens and only does so as a last resort, but sometimes we have to make difficult decisions regarding tax dollars with which we have been entrusted. Cancellation of STC’s Eastend-Swift Current/ Mossbank run is one of those decisions.
While I have great respect for my constituents who are requesting that we reconsider, this decision is not, as suggested, a short-sighted one.
Ten years ago, STC’s subsidy was about $2 million. Today, it’s more than $10 million. Attempts to attract new customers and improve STC’s financial standing through special promotions were ineffective. Industry changes caused ridership to fall by 6,000 people in 2012.
Passenger revenues were far below expectations as a result of Greyhound’s decision to abandon connecting routes in Alberta and Manitoba. 
All routes that have been discontinued averaged less than two passengers per trip over the past five years. That means that on many of these routes, buses were routinely running empty. In fact, in the entire month of October, the Eastend depot sold only four day-trip passes. So far this month only five have sold.
Understanding and appreciating fully the fact that this decision does negatively impact some passengers, it would be irresponsible on the part of our government to ignore the sizable subsidy needed to continue running routes, over the long-term, that are under-utilized.
As difficult as this decision has been, I believe we did the right thing. Our commitment to balanced budgets and responsible spending is a promise we made to the province in 2007. It’s a promise we need to keep for the majority of our citizens.
D. Wayne Elhard, MLA, Cypress Hills Constituency

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