Bus riders are urging people to drive home their opposition to the closure of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company. They say Premier Brad Wall could change his mind if enough people speak out.
"I believe that change is possible. I believe in democracy. I believe that when people stand up and make their positions known, governments can back down on bad decisions," said University of Regina professor Cindy Hanson.
In this week's provincial budget, Finance Minister Kevin Doherty announced STC would be shuttered after more than 70 years of continuous service to some 200 communities.
Some in the province supported the decision as a necessary part of eliminating the $1.2-billion deficit. Others, from workers to cancer patients to seniors have expressed outrage.
Hanson and fellow U of R professor JoAnn Jaffe organized a meeting Friday in Saskatoon at The Stand on Main Street. The pair has commuted weekly by STC bus to the U of R from their Saskatoon homes.
"I've been riding that bus for 25 years. I prefer to let the experts do it [drive], especially in the winter," Jaffe said.
She said profit shouldn't be the only focus of public transportation.
The cut will impact her and will also have other, more far-reaching effects, she said.
"The impacts are on small business; they're on individuals; they're on farmers; they're on clinics, rural libraries. So the impacts are broad and they're deep," said Jaffe.
She called STC an essential public service. She doubts a private operator will serve smaller communities or provide anywhere close to the number of jobs that are being eliminated. She, too, hopes Wall will reverse the decision to wind down the service.
Hanson said the closure will lead to more pollution and more highway damage if people are forced to drive cars and trucks. The poor, elderly or disabled will simply not be able to travel.
Ridership has declined markedly since its peak in the 1980s, according to government figures.
The closure is expected to save roughly $17 million per year.
More than 220 employees will be out of work.