To the Editor:
On Feb. 13 the Thompson Citizen reported that our mayor and city councillors voted to award the city transit contract to Maple Bus Lines. If this is the case then the taxpayers in the city of Thompson must ask some questions regarding the current situation with the city transit service.
If Maple Bus Lines is providing the service of operating city transit, then the following questions must be raised to get clarification from the mayor.
Why do we have two Brandon Bus Lines units running the bus routes in our city?
Who is paying Brandon Bus Lines for the use of their equipment, and is this cost covered by the contractor or the taxpayers?
Where are the city-owned buses that were subsidized by the government?
Why are these buses out of service?
If our local leadership did their due diligence these buses would be on the road providing our citizens with bus service. Instead we have the contractor using buses from another bus line increasing the cost of running the transit service.
Also there is a safety issue when using these highway coaches as city transit buses, because these units make it very difficult for our senior citizens to enter and exit due to the height of these buses. These coaches are not designed to be used for city transit. Just ask our senior citizens who use the service how difficult it is to get on these buses.
When Greyhound Canada was the contractor, they were charging $800 per bus per day. Also Greyhound was responsible for the maintenance of the city buses. That’s like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse. The fox tells you everything is fine until you do your due diligence and find out that the fox has gained 50 pounds and your hen inventory is down by 50 per cent.
Therefore when you put the contractor in charge of the maintenance of these city-owned buses and these buses are out of service, they get to rent their buses at a daily rate that’s passed on to the taxpayer. Why would any contractor rush the repairs of someone else’s equipment when they can make extra money by renting you their equipment?
The city can do a better job and reduce the outsourcing of the city transit service. The government-subsidized buses can be added to the city maintenance department and maintained by city employees.
If the city doesn’t want to hire and train bus drivers then they could outsource this job, therefore saving thousands of taxpayers’ dollars on maintenance costs and continue to provide the vital service to our city, especially for our senior citizens.
Every time we read the local paper the local bus service is referred to as a free service. Let me remind everyone that nothing in today’s society is free. Someone is paying for it.
These Brandon buses come at a daily cost, and the taxpayers of Thompson have the right to know because you can be assured that our mayor and councillors will be crying poor at the next budget meeting and looking straight at you and me – the taxpayers – to take the fall for their lack of due diligence.