10/26/2017 13:22 EDT | Updated 10/28/2017 15:22 EDT

Saskatchewan Opposition wants government to bring back Crown bus service

REGINA — The NDP Opposition has used the first question period of the fall sitting to urge the Saskatchewan Party government to restore provincial bus service.

Leader Nicole Sarauer notes that Wednesday's throne speech indicated the government plans to repeal a recent law allowing for partial privatization of Crown corporations.

Sarauer suggests that makes it a good time to reassess the closure last spring of the Saskatchewan Transportation Co.

Premier Brad Wall replied that the decision to shut down the Crown bus company stands.

Speaking in Saskatoon, new federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said a government led by him would commit to restoring a provincial bus service in Saskatchewan.

Singh, in his first visit to the province since becoming leader, said the federal government should work more with provinces and municipalities to develop public transportation.

"The federal government should step in and actually provide funding if the provincial government is not willing to do that ... for public transit," Singh said.

Wall told the legislature that the per passenger subsidy for the Crown bus company was reaching $100 for every person in the province.

He said the $100 million the government would have spent over five years to subsidize the service is needed more to improve highways, health and education.

"These should be the priorities of the government going forward and they are our priorities going forward," he said.

Sarauer said the public is strongly opposed to the closure.

"With the Sask. Party their stories always seem to change — either they're listening to Saskatchewan people, or they're not," she said.

Several private bus lines have come forward to serve Regina, Fort Qu'Appelle, Balcarres, Melville, Yorkton, Kamsack, Canora and several other communities, Wall said.

Another bus service is to cover Saskatoon to Calgary, he added.

The government shut down the 70-year-old bus company at the end of May as part of an effort to tackle a $1.3-billion provincial deficit.

STC reported a net loss of $13 million in the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

(CKRM, CJWW, The Canadian Press)