STC spent $21K to send 105 passengers by taxi during temporary shutdown

The total cost of cancelling more than 40 bus routes on the day Saskatchewan's budget cuts were announced was just over $22,000.

Just over half of the taxi fare was spent on Saskatoon passengers

The Saskatchewan Transportation Company will cease operations on May 31. (Jason Warick/CBC)

The cost of cancelling more than 40 bus routes when the Saskatchewan Transportation Company shut down temporarily for a day in March was just over $22,000, according to numbers provided by STC.

Taxi rides spanning hundreds of kilometres were offered to passengers when the service temporarily stopped operating the afternoon the provincial government announced it would wind down the service as part of budget cuts.

The government says the closure of STC is expected to save the province roughly $17 million per year.

The schedules were halted that day so the company could meet with staff about the upcoming shutdown. The service outage affected a total of 34 bus routes the afternoon of March 22 and 14 the next morning.

The service offered taxi rides to anyone whose bus was cancelled at any of the company's depots across the province.

Taxi fare, ticket refunds

STC says the total cost of the temporary service suspension was $22,288.06. Of that, $21,338.38 was spent on taxi fare, $680.42 on ticket refunds and $269.26 on accommodations.

The company says 105 passengers were transported by taxi: 97 STC customers and eight drivers. Forty people were put in taxis in Regina, 42 in Saskatoon, 10 in Prince Albert, nine in Yorkton, three in La Ronge and one in Estevan.

Just over half of the taxi fare ($11,819.05) was spent on Saskatoon passengers, followed by Regina passengers ($5,278.33), Yorkton ($2,488.62), Prince Albert ($1,038.10), La Ronge ($380.95), and Estevan ($333.33).

The company will stop accepting freight for delivery May 19 and all STC's operations, including passenger services, will end on May 31. Customers have until June 30 to apply for refunds for unused tickets or waybills. 

Suspension intended to respect drivers' emotions: Minister

NDP interim leader Trent Wotherspoon said the cost is one example of how the province is going to have to pay more as a result of the service cut, whether that involves transporting people to and from health-care appointments or the movement of products.

"Scrapping STC doesn't save money for Saskatchewan people," he said Wednesday.

Joe Hargrave, the minister responsible for the bus service and Crown corporations, defended the temporary suspension as a move to respect the drivers' emotions, while also being fair to passengers who had already booked rides.

"The drivers just received this information that we were winding down STC and I didn't think it was safe to put them on the road with passengers on their buses, or themselves on the buses, to operate on that day," he said.

With files from Alicia Bridges