From partiers to patients: Sask. businesses adapting to fill STC void

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WATCH ABOVE: STC is still set to end operations at the end of May, but parts of Saskatchewan may be getting new bus services. Blake Lough has more on two companies looking to fill the vacant routes – Apr 13, 2017

A privately-owned limousine service based out of Lumsden, Sask. has applied for an operating authority to take over STC bus routes.

READ MORE: Sask. government to sell new, unused buses after STC shuts down

Carpe Diem Group, known for its familiar jet-black limos and vans, specializes in transporting business executives, celebrities and raucous wedding parties around Saskatchewan cities.

Celebrities like Wayne Gretzky have made use of Carpe Diem’s services.

But when the limo/party bus service learned of STC’s elimination at the end of May, Carpe Diem Group general manager Mitch Blyth jumped at the opportunity to pick up new clientele.

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“I phoned our CEO and announced it when I was listening to the budget the day-of,” Blyth said.

“There’s cancer patients, dialysis patients, people like that. This is becoming an essential service to these people, it has been for how many years STC has been around.”

READ MORE: STC closure a ‘complete outrage’: bus rider with rare brain cancer

The company currently has 22 vehicles in their fleet, and 14 that can be used as charter-style buses. Blyth said he’s confident the company can offer full passenger services, plus freight transportation, by the time STC is gone.

He also said he was confident Carpe Diem could operate more cost-effectively than STC because of the smaller capacity on their buses

The charter buses would not be liquor-licensed, unlike the limos in their fleet.

“[There are] a lot of different ideas floating around in our ownership group right now, but we have some great ideas that we will release at a later date,” Blyth said.
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Blythe added that new employees would have to be hired for the additional service.

Other private businesses interested in filling void

Carpe Diem Group isn’t the only company adapting to offer passenger services for when STC closes later this spring.

DiCal Transport, based out of Melville, is also hoping to shuttle customers to communities between Yorkton and Regina by early June. Owner Diane Smith said she heard from plenty of residents who would be stranded without STC services.

“We’re delivering washers and dryers and fridges to a lot of senior residents and every single one of them talked about STC closing and how they wouldn’t be able to get into Regina for medical appointments and such,” Smith said.

DiCal purchased a 15 passenger van earlier in April to accommodate the potential service. Smith couldn’t say how much she would be charging for fares, but confirmed it would be cheaper than a cab.

AV Shuttlecab, based out of Saskatoon, also announced it would be offering transit services between Saskatoon, Martensville and Warman starting May 1. AV Shuttlecab normally specializes in special needs transportation.