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“If you speak to 100 people and they’re all telling you these kinds of stories, I think it is not very difficult for you to appreciate that many peoples’ lives are becoming more difficult because the bus is gone,” Alhassan said.
“I think it will be very difficult to justify such a decision if two, three years later people are still telling these kinds of stories.”
The effects that cropped up in Alhassan’s research included mental health challenges that came not only as a result of feeling isolated, but from shame after having to repeatedly ask for rides to access health care in a larger urban centre.
He said he was concerned to hear some participants with chronic illnesses were putting off or avoiding going to hospital for treatments because they couldn’t find transportation to get there. Some were even walking or hitchhiking between communities and were worried for their safety.
The STC’s demise on May 31, 2017 was the result of that year’s unpopular austerity budget. Coupled with the elimination of Western Canada Greyhound routes a year later, the move limited many people’s ability to get around.
Among the provincial government’s arguments for shutting down the 71-year-old Crown agency was that it no longer wanted to continue subsidizing it.
The STC served 253 communities across 25 routes, although at its end only the Regina to Saskatoon route was profitable. Ridership in 2016-17 was just under 186,000, a 77 per cent decline from the nearly 790,000 riders in 1980.