STC shutdown critics should start their own bus service, province suggests

The Saskatchewan government has responded to a call for it to use recently announced federal funding to revive the now-shuttered Saskatchewan Transportation Company — and it's not what the STC faithful were hoping to hear.

Calls for province to use federal money to revive service; Sask. government says STC doesn't meet criteria

'The wind down of STC will continue,' a government spokesperson said on Wednesday. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

The Saskatchewan government has responded to a call for it to use recently announced federal funding to revive the now-shuttered Saskatchewan Transportation Company.

And it's not what the STC faithful were hoping to hear.

"The wind down of STC will continue," said an emailed government response on Wednesday. ​

"The company's operating authority certificates to provide passenger service within Saskatchewan have expired, and [the business services firm] KPMG is leading the process of identifying assets for disposal through open, competitive processes."

Not eligible for federal funding: province 

The comment comes after one of the groups opposing the STC shutdown, Stop the Cuts, claimed Wednesday that a portion of Saskatchewan's share of $20.1 billion in multi-year transit funding — announced in the federal government's 2017-18 budget — could be used to bring the STC back into service.

But the government response put a damper on that hope.

"STC does not fit the federal government transportation criteria," it says.

The email then had some advice for the group.

"[I]f Stop the Cuts is interested in starting its own passenger service, we would encourage them to make the appropriate application to the Highway Traffic Board."

'Seamless service' denied: government

The government email also suggested the group's opposition to companies looking to take over some STC routes has gotten in the way of getting other services on the road.

"We would note that passengers could be enjoying seamless transportation service at this point by interested companies if not for opposition to their operating authority certificate applications," it says.

At least one company has now pulled back its application. 

​According to a Stop the Cuts release issued earlier on Wednesday, Regina-Lewvan MP Erin Weir told Premier Brad Wall about the federal funding shortly after the provincial budget was released in late March and "offered to work alongside the provincial government to secure the funding.

"Wall responded on May 11 that he would eliminate STC even if federal funding were available to continue its operation," the release continued. "We find this puzzling given that the Saskatchewan Party has argued over and over that it can't afford the service."

Stop the Cuts is asking people to contact their MLAs plus Ralph Goodale, the federal minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, along with federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau about the issue.