6 arrested after protest inside STC bus parked in Saskatoon

In what was billed as "a statement of resistance," a group of people riding the last Saskatchewan Transportation Company bus from Regina to Saskatoon refused to get off the bus after it arrived at the Saskatoon bus terminal Wednesday night.

Riders released at police station and warned of mischief

Passengers refused to get off the last STC bus that arrived in Saskatoon on Wednesday night. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

Six people who refused to leave a Saskatchewan Transportation Company bus in Saskatoon on Wednesday were arrested and later released by police.

The riders were on the final STC bus arriving to Saskatoon from Regina Wednesday night, capping off weeks of protests over the Saskatchewan government's decision to shutter the decades-old bus line.

In a news release, police said officers negotiated with the riders until 1:15 a.m. CST, at which point officers boarded the bus and escorted them off. The protestors included a 32-year-old woman, two men aged 37 and third man aged 23, all from Saskatoon, along with a 54-year-old woman and 33-year-old man from Regina.

There were no injuries.

Wednesday night's show of protest began when a large gathering of people assembled at the Robin's doughnut shop inside the Saskatoon STC terminal to sing songs, including a new spin on the famous Woody Guthrie ballad This Land Is Your Land.

When the bus from Regina arrived shortly before 8:30 p.m. CST, some of the protesters handed out flowers to those passengers who streamed out of the bus.

But then there were those passengers who didn't get off the bus, plus one man, Jack Hicks, who climbed aboard bus No. 785 to make a "statement of resistance," as described in a news release issued earlier in the night under embargo. 

Jack Hicks, seen here centre monitoring his phone, later climbed aboard bus No. 785 when it arrived in Saskatoon from Regina at around 8:30 p.m. (Guy Quenneville/CBC News)

Hundreds of protesters were there to cheer them on, including Gerald Harrison. 

One of the seven sit-in protesters, Dave Lyons-Morgan — who could be seen throughout the night grinning widely from the front seat of the bus and waving to people in the terminal — spoke to CBC News from his cell phone about a half-hour into the occupation. 

Several members of the Saskatoon Police Service arrived shortly before 9 p.m., but after several talks aboard the bus, the seven protesters remained on the bus.

By 10:15 p.m., it was closing time for the bus terminal, and a man accompanied moments earlier by police drove the bus from the depot to nearby Ontario Avenue.

There, Lyons-Morgan expressed one disappointment about the night:

Asked just after 11 p.m. how long he would be willing to stick it out, Lyons-Morgan, a former STC employee, said, "I don't know. A couple days. We'll see."

'This budget is hurting people' 

Asked what outcome would prompt him to leave the bus, another of the sit-in protesters — who would only identify himself as "Buck" — said, "I want Brad Wall to admit to the people of Saskatchewan that his budget is hurting people. The most vulnerable people in this province."

"The people on the bus just didn't want the last bus to end without a statement of resistance," Hicks said earlier in the night. "They wanted to say something loud and clear about their opposition."

All seven remained in the bus as of 11:15 p.m. Wednesday. 

The government's plan to cease passenger bus service begins Thursday. 

CBC News reporter Guy Quenneville was live-tweeting from the event. See his tweets below. 

Can't see the tweets? Click here