For years, Saskatoon Transit has been purchasing used buses as a means of replacing or adding vehicles in a cost effective way. But is purchasing and refurbishing used buses really saving money?
On the agenda of the recent meeting of the City of Saskatoon’s Standing Policy Committee on Transportation is the recommendation to Council that a tender for the structural refurbishment of five (yes, five. Remember that number) articulated buses be awarded at a cost of $660,000. That’s just structural, not engines, drive-train, or interiors.
While I am sure these buses do need to be refurbished if they are to continue service, we are now starting to see the true cost of the “Buy Used” strategy that has been in place at Saskatoon Transit for many years. The report to council section on “replacement versus refurbishment cost comparison” only compares the cost of replacement or refurbishment, with no mention of the acquisition or operating costs to date, or total cost of ownership for the life of the vehicles.
In the agenda for the upcoming Saskatoon City Council Executive Committee meeting is a report to council from Hemson Consulting on “Financing Growth” that council commissioned in late 2013. This report indirectly identifies an area in which provincial legislation and the actions of the city can be improved, especially with respect to Public Transit and how it is funded.
Of the ways that a city can fund its operations and capital costs the most obvious and easily identifiable to the average citizen are property taxes, user fees, and funds from higher levels of government. A less well known but significant source are development levies.
With the 10 Days for Transit campaign about to begin, some ideas for improving Saskatoon Transit have started to pop up on Twitter. Among them is extending transit service later into the night or increasing the pathetic frequency of service in the evening hours.
I started to wonder, what would be the cost of extending transit service?