Businesses apply for certificates to provide passenger service in rural Sask. as STC closes

At least 11 companies have applied for a certificate that will allow them to provide passenger and baggage transport service since the government announced it was shuttering the Saskatchewan Transportation company

Government hopes private sector picks up service provided by Saskatchewan Transportation Company

The Saskatchewan Transportation Company parked its buses for good on Wednesday. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

At least 11 businesses have applied to provide passenger and baggage transport service in the province since the government announced it was axing the Saskatchewan Transportation Company.

The applications were filed to the Highway Traffic Board and the notices were published by the government. Carriers need an operating authority certificate in order to offer vehicle-for-hire services for passenger transportation services.

The independent board will hold hearings for applications in which oppositions have been filed and so far 10 have, according to Lisa Danyluk, spokesperson for the Ministry of Crown Investments.

A few hearings are set for June.

Joe Hargrave, minister responsible for the recently defunct STC, said Wednesday he's optimistic the private sector will pick up on the bus service cut by the government.

The announcement of STC's closure came in this past spring's provincial budget, with the government citing declining ridership and revenues.

The STC's last day of service was on Wednesday.

Greyhound assessing impact of STC closure

A spokesperson for Greyhound Canada said the company is still assessing the impact the closure of the STC will have on their service, adding the office in Saskatoon will remain open for at least a few months after the bus depot shuts down. 

Lanesha Gipson said the company is looking at everything from ridership numbers to routes to determine if service is sustainable. 

She added the company is not looking at picking up any extra STC routes. 

When it stopped operating this week, only two of STC's 27 routes were still profitable. Ridership had dropped by 77 per cent since its peak in 1980.

Government officials estimate the STC closure will save roughly $17 million per year. 

What if I still have bus tickets?

Passengers who still have a valid STC bus ticket or pass will have until June 30 to apply for refunds. The $10 processing fee won't be charged.

On its website, the bus company said all packages received before May 19 should have been delivered by May 31. If not, they will be returned to the sender.

The company says its equipment will be liquidated. The province has hired the firm KPMG to take care of that process.

The 224 STC employees who lost their jobs will also receive severance packages.