Rhino's Ramblings - A Bus Too Far


Robert Thomas Opinion/Commentary

It seemed to come out of nowhere and was immediately wildly endorsed by the Facebook generation while questioned by others who don’t ascribe to social media as to whether even something the City should be considering at all.

What it is, is a twice daily bus service from Moose Jaw to Regina. Where the Province failed miserably in making the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC)  profitable -  the Regina to Moose Jaw route being one of the money losers – the City smells profits in them thar hills. 

At a cost of $25 per passenger for the trip to Moose Jaw and then return to Regina it seems like an affordable option. Something Sask PolyTechnic students are all able to afford it’s just the $8 daily on campus parking fee they are ill equipped to afford. And as such continue to fill neighbourhood streets with newer and more expensive cars than many area residents.

Despite saying the initiative was requested by Sask Polytechnic at Budget Committee all of a sudden it bounced around to oops it’s a City of Moose Jaw initiative to oops it’s the Sask Polytechnic Students Association who requested it (to the dreaded Regina media) to oops it’s once again a City of Moose Jaw initiative.

This is how political the entire issue is. It’s a political quagmire they need to get out of quickly as friendlies at Sask Polytech in Moose Jaw just might immediately felt the political heat.

Can you imagine the political fallout that a Provincial Institution needs or requests a service cut by the Province restored by a municipality? A service which lost money to the point it was abandoned but now oops here is an oversight and it’s hurting post secondary education institution ran by the Province. 

So there is plenty of backpedalling here in my own opinion to save face. And oh yeah keep the dreaded out of town media from digging up this great nugget of gold. 

You need to take a look at the economics of this and given the City is seeking $25 daily from students it cannot be that affordable as in the STC version students could buy a greatly discounted monthly pass – and even then could not fill the bus. 

Additionally the City is attempting to or I should say hoping to get around a clause where in the near future all highway route buses must be equipped with seatbelts.

It came as fallout from the Humboldt Broncos bus tragedy where one family from the 29 killed campaigned and convinced the Federal government to institute the seat belt requirement. 

Personally I wonder what would be that family’s response to the City's move when it comes to seatbelts let alone if it is in the end approved. My best guess is it isn’t going to sit very well and might well get the wrong type of publicity for the City. 

And is even trying to get around it a sign of disrespect? 

Or should we operate the route on the condition Sask Polytech or their student’s association pre-pay for 40 seats a month in advance and then let them sell and fill their seats?

For many the economics is not there not with other serious challenges facing the City. Things such as repairing roads which is cut back under priority based budgeting.

With that said I do know of one local firm who was exploring this option and perhaps run twice daily service between Moose Jaw and Regina. I cannot forsee him going forward having local government competition who let’s face it cannot even police unlicensed taxis. 

Despite the rah rah and given support in some quarters my straw poll sees this initiative not even leaving the garage in Budget Committee with at least a 4 – 3 count against it and perhaps even a 5 – 2 against it.

moose jaw