Saskatoon Access Transit user 'shocked' over service reduction

Starting Thursday, riders looking to take Access Transit to get to their destinations will notice a shift in service over the next three weeks.

In a news release on Wednesday, Saskatoon Transit says the service will temporarily reduce service levels based on available resources.

It’s something Access Transit user Brittany Zuleta wasn’t prepared for as she uses it five days a week.

“I was shocked to hear the news, I’m like, 'why would they do that?'” she told CTV News.

Saskatoon Transit interim director Tracey Davis said the decision was made due to a short-term staffing shortage.

“Retirements, resignations that were naturally occurring anyways. We had a couple of folks who ended up injured unexpectedly,” Davis said.

Saskatoon Transit is hiring new drivers but says it will take time to get them trained.

It says booking an Access Transit bus will be challenging for last-minute spontaneous trips. Davis says Access Transit has roughly 1,800 active customers.

“The chances of getting that trip that they wanted might be reduced and they might experience those delays and might have to travel at an off-peak time,” Davis said.

Zuleta says “it isn’t fair” for people like her who depend on Access Transit to take them from point A to point B regularly.

“I don’t want to be having to pay for a cab or having my parents come get me because it’s not fair to them,” Zuleta said.

Sydney Risley is another Access Transit user and says she tries to use it as much as she can, as taxis are out of her budget and walking long distances is out of the question.

“My roommate, he even said to me, ever since taking Access Transit, I don’t come home as tired,” Risley said.

Saskatoon Transit is advising riders to continue booking trips three days in advance as early as 9 a.m. to avoid possible denials.

In a statement, Saskatoon Transit said Access Transit’s subscription service will not be affected by the decrease in service levels.

"In addition, Saskatoon Transit is actively using a number of third party transportation options to reduce the impact. Normally, there is a cap of how many third party transportation service rides are supplemented each day for customers when Access Transit is overbooked; however in order to reduce the impact on customers, this cap has been removed during this time of service level adjustment," the statement said.