By Andy Labdon
On June 1, the day after the last of the Saskatchewan Transport Company (STC) buses ran, the government of Saskatchewan issued a press release proclaiming June 4-10 Saskatchewan Transportation Week.
“We appreciate the recognition that the government bestows upon those who work within the transportation and logistics industry year after year,” said George Eckel, Saskatoon Transportation Club president. “We’re also grateful for their continuing investment in infrastructure, which will greatly benefit the transportation industry and make transporting goods more efficient.”
“Saskatchewan’s transportation industry connects our producers and manufacturers with consumers, which is vital to the success of our economy,” said David Marit, highways and infrastructure minister. “Whether helping move goods and products to market or building and maintaining infrastructure, this week is about recognizing the thousands of people who make it happen.”
It seems ironic in the least and at most a kick in the teeth for the STC drivers and staff, who over the decades have contributed to the success of small rural communities. Communities in Saskatchewan such as Rama, where Elaine Olson dressed in her Saskatchewan Roughrider jersey, took a last ride on the last bus.
“I am dumbfounded, that the government has transportation week after closing down STC. It’s crazy, and a slap in the face for those who live here in Rama,” said Olson.
Small communities will be affected by this closure, which is reflected in part also by the pending closure of the convenience store at Rama.
“With no bus, no C-store and no freight coming in or going out, and no bus to get out of Rama, people are going to suffer as will the village,” Olson says. “I used the bus service several times a year, mostly in the winter to visit family in Edmonton. Now I won’t be able to that.”
Both in Wadena and Rama last Wednesday, STC drivers expressed sadness at the closure and loss of livelihood.
“It sucks,” said Wadena’s last driver, who did not want her name used.
Meanwhile over in Margo, Myrna Daviduk also recorded the final run along Hwy. 5 as Lorraine Almusa got off. “Then it drove down the highway for the last time,” said Daviduk.
As part of province-wide protests, six of 10 riders traveling on STC from Regina and Saskatoon refused to leave the bus upon arrival. Premier Wall’s dinner being held in Regina Thursday was also expected to be met with “quiet protest.” Many on the News’s social media pages have commented why they used the service, and how it was considered a “safe” means of travel.
“An efficient transportation network is the key foundation of a strong economy; nothing moves until the roads are built,” said Shantel Lipp of the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association.
“Nothing moves until the roads are built,” but for rural communities it remains to be seen as what the long-term effect this will have as to the lack of connectivity with essential services in urban centres.
As the last bus left GK Service in Wadena just after 8:30 p.m., area residents who relied on the bus will have to look at alternative means of transport, as will all rural communities in Saskatchewan.