Regina Transit challenge organizers hope to show city council what bus service is missing
For Andrew Reist, every day is a transit challenge.
He has no driver's licence, but is more than happy to show you his trusty R-Card, the tool he uses to hop on any Regina city bus if he needs to get groceries, visit friends, or get to and from work, as he does five days a week.
While the experience is not perfect, it does work for him — at least most of the time.
"While the service during the week is great, you know, maybe having it run a little bit later would be nice," he told CBC News on Tuesday. "Definitely looking at the weekend or Sunday service would be absolutely amazing,"
Despite a growing population, the city's transit service has failed to keep up with demand, according to the Regina Transit Master Plan.
It's more expensive, has a lower revenue per capita and has fewer employees than similar transit systems in Canada.
WATCH| Regina Transit challenge organizers hope to show city council what bus service is missing:
The Regina Citizens Public Transit Coalition says all of those reasons played into the decision to issue a challenge to the city's elected officials to rely on Regina Transit for all transportation for 48 hours. The coalition says this will give councillors an idea of what using the system is actually like for those who rely on it.
Terri Sleeva, a member of the coalition, said people don't want to ride the bus because service in Regina is poor.
"That's no fault of Regina Transit. They are doing the best they can with the money [city council] give it," Sleeva said.
Sleeva said four councillors agreed to taking part in the challenge between March 6 and March 19. They'll submit feedback to a questionnaire and the coalition will then share those answers with the public.
Ward 1 Coun. Cheryl Stadnichuk had just finished her 48 hours on Regina Transit when she spoke with CBC last week.
Stadnichuk said it was the first first time in decades that she's had to rely on the Regina Transit system, and that her experience was good.
"I think some people think of [transit as being for] people who are poor, or who can't afford a car," she said.
"It's actually a good option to getting around the city if you want to. So we just have to make it as efficient as possible for people."
Stadnichuk said she'll make sure to continue to use the bus, calling it a good way to connect with her constituents, and that she'll keep her experience in mind when potentially voting on future transit-related topics at city hall.
Mayor Sandra Masters has confirmed she is not taking part in the challenge, although she said she may do it at a later date.
Masters said her scheduled is blocked out weeks in advance and was already fully booked by the time the challenge arrived.
"Because I'm here and I'm there and I'm everywhere, we didn't build the transit system to accommodate kind of back-to-back bookings," she said.
Instead, one of the mayor's staff members will be taking part in the challenge to provide feedback to the coalition.
Reist said that if those in charge don't take the bus, they won't know the issues.
"They're busy most of the time, but I think they should be able to make the time to see the system that they have, that they manage," he said.
For Sleeva, the mayor's response highlights the issue the coalition is trying communicate to council. Not everyone has the opportunity or the ability to not use city transit.
"If it was better service, then we wouldn't have that problem," she said.