City bus routes suspended as students head back to school

Saskatoon Transit has suspended several routes as of Tuesday due to maintenance delays on its city fleet. It also will no longer provide additional buses to help transport riders on busy routes and some routes will be delayed.

Several bus routes suspended, including all direct to downtown and the university, most high school specials

City Hall suggests stalled contract talks a factor in service disruptions. (CBC)

If you rely on city transit to get around in Saskatoon, your regular route may be suspended as of today.

Saskatoon Transit said it has temporarily suspended several bus routes and delayed three others. The city said a number of buses need maintenance and that it has had difficulty hiring mechanics.

Jeff Jorgenson, general manager for transportation and utilities department, said everyone should still be able to find a ride.

"The city is still covered," Jorgenson said. "It's really those extra routes that aren't offered. The high school extras. Those direct routes that gave people a quicker service to the downtown than through the regular transit. It's those extra services that are cancelled."

CBC News spoke to a number of people, however, who encountered problems.

"My older daughter takes the school route to Aden Bowman so she had to come with me to the university and just transfer from here and take it to her school, her regular school bus route she couldn't," Kim Matheson told CBC News Tuesday.

Matheson said getting information about bus routes was also difficult.

Frustration was noted among university students as well.

"I had so many texts, so many Facebook messages, so many emails over the long weekend," Max Fineday from the University of Saskatchewan Students' Union, said Tuesday. "Students not knowing how they're going to be getting to school."

Two weeks before situation may ease

The city is hoping to hire more mechanics as soon as possible, but Jorgenson said it could take a few weeks before everything is back to normal.

"We know that we're going to be struggling for at least two weeks," he said. "What I think is going to make a big difference is some secondhand buses that are coming in the short term here."

On Tuesday, officials said they had made arrangements to buy 12 used buses, which should be road-ready in one week. Another eight buses were acquired from the City of Calgary. Those buses are expected to arrive in Saskatoon within a few weeks.

All direct routes downtown and to university suspended

According to the City of Saskatoon's website, all Downtown Direct and University Direct services are suspended:

  • Downtown Direct #1 – picks up customers in the Lakeview and Lakeridge neighbourhoods, and travels non-stop to downtown via the fastest route possible. To view a map of this suspended route, click here.

  • Downtown Direct #2 – picks up customers in the Lakeridge and Lakewood neighbourhoods, and travels non-stop to downtown via the fastest route possible. To view a map of this suspended route, click here.

​All of the above cancelled Downtown Direct routes ran periodically between 7:10 a.m. CST and 7:35 a.m. and in the afternoons between 4:50 p.m. and 5:20 p.m.

  • University Direct #1 – picks up customers in the Lakeview and Lakeridge neighbourhoods, and travels limited stop direct to the University via the fastest route possible. To view a map of this suspended route, click here.

  • University Direct #2 – picks up customers in the Lakewood neighbourhood, and travels limited stop direct to the University via the fastest route possible. To view a map of this suspended route, click here.

  • University Direct #3 - picks up customers in the Stonebridge neighbourhood and travels non-stop to the University and downtown via College Drive. 

All of the above cancelled University Direct routes ran periodically during the morning, between 7:20 a.m. and 7:40 a.m. and in the afternoon between 2:30 p.m. and 2:40 p.m.

According to the City of Saskatoon, all extra buses that ran to alleviate capacity on popular routes will also be suspended as of today. The implementations of route 26 and new express services for Arbor Creek, Willowgrove and Parkridge will also be indefinitely delayed.

Most High School Special routes suspended

High School Specials are suspended as of today, with exception of College Park to St Joseph High School.

According to the City of Saskatoon's website, that means the following 14 routes are cancelled indefinitely:

  • Aden Bowman
  • Bedford Road
  • Bethlehem
  • Bishop James Mahoney
  • Bishop Murray 
  • Centennial
  • City Park
  • E.D. Feehan
  • Evan Hardy
  • Holy Cross
  • Marion Graham
  • Mount Royal
  • Tommy Douglas
  • Walter Murray 

To view a specific map of one of the above suspended High School Specials, click here.

The city has provided a list of suggested bus routes for high school students.

The City of Saskatoon said in an attempt to accommodate high school-bound travellers who have been left in the lurch, the following temporary shuttle services will run:

  • A shuttle from The Centre Mall to Holy Cross and Walter Murray Collegiate will run every 10 minutes, during the morning between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. and a shuttle will run every five minutes, during the afternoon from 3:20 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • A shuttle from the Confederation terminal to Bethlehem and Tommy Douglas Collegiate will run every 15 minutes, during the morning between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30a.m. and periodically in the afternoon between 3:15 p.m. and 3:35 p.m.

The City of Saskatoon also warned that because of the "temporary disruptions" Google Transit and third party apps may not be accurate

Union seeks better pay

According to the city, attracting qualified mechanics has been difficult.

Jim Yakubowski, from the Amalgamated Transit Union, told CBC News that members are seeking competitive wages.

"Wages and benefits are two of the most important factors," Yakubowski said. "Especially with journeymen mechanics which are a very specialized field."


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