For readers outside the province of Saskatchewan, this requires a little explanation. In Saskatchewan we don't have Greyhound or Red Arrow running bus lines. In Saskatchewan, the government owns and operates the bus company and there is a actually a minister responisble for buses.
The bus company is doing terribly, and has been for years. In fact, it's losing around $20 million a year and this year they plan to lose even more. What's really funny is when our elected politicans start debating minutiae of running a bus system.
Check out this exchange:
Eldon Lautermilch, the minister responsible for STC, said the company expects the number of riders to drop this year as two special centennial programs will no longer be in effect.
"We're looking at some options right now to see what we can do to support seniors and young people with the operations," he said in an interview on Tuesday.
The Crown corporation is also budgeting for higher fuel costs in the year ahead.
Lautermilch said that while the company has increased efficiencies in recent years, the NDP government expects STC will lose money.
"We are expecting we are going to be subsidizing its operations because we're trying to provide service in areas that wouldn't otherwise be provided," he said.
Before 2003, the government subsidy to STC had been declining each year since it hit a high of $8.3 million in 1996.
Saskatchewan Party MLA Ken Krawetz said he's concerned about the upward trend in STC's subsidy.
"We have to look at changes. The buses that are currently used on many, many routes are old, they're built for when there was tremendous usage by people. What we're seeing now is that the freight that is being hauled is what's making money for STC and a smaller bus transporting 12 to 15 people pulling a trailer behind it can still provide that same service. So we need to have those kinds of studies, those kinds of experiments looked at," he told reporters at the legislature.
STC spokesman John Millar said the company already utilizes smaller buses and trailers but it must provide vehicles that will meet peak demands on each route.