Public transit in Regina – a rant

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If you’re into frostbite, inconsistent scheduling, and waiting outside for up to an hour, Regina Transit has you covered. Byronv2 via Flickr

Public transit is a great option, but far from viable in Regina

One of the best student benefits provided by the University of Regina Students’ Union, for me, has to be the subsidized bus pass. For the approximately two years of the pandemic when the U-Pass was not being offered, it was a substantial inconvenience for me. While classes were online and I did not have to be on campus all that often, I also use the bus for pretty much all my commute needs, and not having an affordable unlimited rides pass was difficult.

With the gradual return to a pre-pandemic life, URSU has been offering the bus pass regularly for the last few terms. In the last issue, one of our writers wrote about the benefits of taking public transit in lieu of using one’s own vehicle to commute to and from campus. While I agree with all her points and do in fact use public transit almost exclusively myself, I personally fear that students at the U of R, and even residents of Regina, are still quite far away from a reality where they could fully opt for public transit and not feel the need to have their own vehicle or pursue some carpooling option.

I find the frequency of service for most bus lines inadequate. Currently, most buses run twice an hour, most of the time. This is cranked up to four times an hour during peak hours in the morning and afternoon, but on the flip side, there are express buses that really only run during those peak hours. I remember being in a lecture that went from 4:30-7:30 p.m. One of my peers in that class needed bus line number 18 to get home. Now, for some inexplicable reason, this bus which had the university campus at one end of its commute loop ran consistently only until 6:00 p.m., with one final trip four hours later at 10:00 p.m. Thus, this peer of mine had to find ways to use the nearly three hours after the end of the lecture before she could take a bus home. I am not sure what time she had to get back to campus the following morning, but I am sure it got old pretty soon. I would not be surprised if she caved in and switched to using a private vehicle.

Further, all bus lines switch to only once an hour after 9:00 p.m. Regina is a small city, and it is true that there is not a whole lot going on right into midnight. But, at least for the university bus lines, I think it makes little to no sense to have buses that really only run till 9:00 p.m. – especially during exam season, when some of us study in the libraries much later into the evening. If you are someone whose schooling or work needs have you commuting close to or after 8:45 p.m., public transit in Regina is not a viable option for you. This is before we even consider the social reasons why someone might want to take a bus somewhere later into the evening, especially on weekends.

Which reminds me – most of these already few and far between bus lines become even less frequent on weekends. On Sunday, the buses run from around 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. So, if you are making dinner plans with a friend on Sunday, never mind gloating about your U-Pass. It is not going to get you anywhere – literally.

One final grievance I have about the public transit in Regina are the bus shelters. For a city where it is nearly -40 C for months at a time, and where one often has to wait half an hour for the next bus, there are just not enough heated and/or covered bus shelters. In some locations, this could have been made bearable by waiting inside a building. But, as many of my peers have attested, one really has to balance that decision with the risk of missing your bus because you did not hustle to the bus stop fast enough. After all, the next one is not for another half hour!

Those are all my complaints about the public transit in this city. Despite all of these complaints, I still use public transit. That is precisely why I want to see it improved. These days, it is fashionable to talk about electric vehicles and renewable energy. We would do well to keep in mind that while all those things sound amazing and cool, a good public transit system remains a boring but real and attainable solution to sustainable carbon footprint reduction.

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