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Saskatoon transportation committee seeks probe on late buses, unpaid parking tickets

An influx of students at the UofS is causing some buses to skip stops due to full overcapacity. Files / Global News

The City of Saskatoon’s transportation committee recommended an investigation into late buses, along with different methods of collecting fees on late parking tickets, during a busy meeting on Monday.

Late buses plagued city riders during the 20201-2022 winter period, which was noticeably colder than usual.

Colder periods are also times when residents tend to heavily rely on city transit.

A report presented to the city committee shows that Saskatoon Transit struggled to have sufficient buses available to meet service requirements for peak service periods in the morning and afternoon.

The report also mentions that Saskatoon Transit’s fixed-route fleet consists of 139 buses with 84 buses required to meet morning service needs.

Yet the number of buses being serviced or waiting for service affects whether enough buses are available to meet full-service levels.

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The committee voted to have the city’s internal auditor investigate why so many buses weren’t working at once.

The matter will go before city council at the next meeting. The administration said it plans to have solutions outlined and in place by the fall.

So far, the city committee does know that from mid-December 2021 to early March 2022, there were times when the city’s transit system experienced service disruptions due to a backlog of mechanical issues resulting from a shortage in buses being able to meet full-service levels.

In the first week of March, the report indicates significant progress was made in getting the backlog of mechanical issues addressed and more buses back into service.

By March 11, Saskatoon Transit had returned to meeting full-service levels and since then full-service levels have been met most days.

The continued focus for Saskatoon Transit is to maintain full-service levels moving forward.

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In another notable matter that went before the committee, Saskatoon is owed roughly $8 million in unpaid parking tickets.

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The city committee is working to collect the money from outstanding tickets from many drivers, many of whom don’t live in the city or don’t have an active vehicle registration.

A city official says court delays and parking data errors are contributing to the ongoing build-up.

Options to collect the fees include mailing tickets and having more staff on patrol.

The committee voted to pursue all “feasible,” local solutions before lobbying the province and SGI for more power when it comes to restricting the ability of residents to obtain a driver’s licence or to register a vehicle while they have outstanding parking tickets.

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The recommendations will go before city council for a vote during its next meeting.

Last year, the city handed out more than $3.7 million worth of parking tickets, and from that sum, it is still owed nearly $550,000.

The city committee has learned that over a seven-year period, there has been an increase in non-payment of parking tickets. More notably, there is a marked increase in non-payment within the previous two years.

Owners with two or more outstanding fines enter a “scofflaw” status and are then subject to vehicle seizure, which includes booting, towing and impounding.

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According to the city, as of February 2022, there are 9,837 vehicle owners in scofflaw status.

Of those vehicle owners, 4,195 are registered with an address in Saskatoon and 3,329 or 79.3 per cent of the vehicles previously registered in Saskatoon are listed as having no active vehicle registration.

Currently, Saskatoon cannot pursue vehicle seizures on the 3,329 owners with no active vehicle registrations.

If that person registers another vehicle at a later date, then that vehicle can be seized. That said frequent registration searches require an extensive amount of administrative time.

— with files from Global News’ Nathaniel Dove 

 

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