Saskatoon Transit

Saskatoon Transit

Infobox Bus transit
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logo_size = 150

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founded = 2005
headquarters = 301 24th Street West
locale = Saskatoon, SK
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service_type = bus service, paratransit, bus rapid transit,
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routes = 16
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hubs =
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fleet =
ridership = 20,000
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website = [ City Transit]

Saskatoon Transit is the public transport arm of the City of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. It operates a fleet of diesel buses. A total of 16 bus routes serve every area of the city, carrying 7.2 million passengers in 2005, an average of nearly 20,000 per day. Saskatoon Transit is a member of the Canadian Urban Transit Association.


cite web
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title = Welcome to
work = Contact Us
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date = September 11, 2008
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accessdate =2008-10-03
] ] Saskatoon Transit was initially known as Saskatoon Municipal Railway and began operating on January 1, 1913 with a fleet of streetcars.David A. Wyatt, [ Transit History of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan] , 1989–2007.] City of Saskatoon Archives. [ Significant Dates: A Saskatoon Chronology] , 1999–2006.] Service as far as Sutherland began in 1914 when it was still a separate village. The servicing garage was (and remains) located in the Caswell Hill neighbourhood, on the north side of 24th Street between Avenues C and D. (A second garage now faces it across 24th Street.)

The central transfer point for most bus routes has always been the block of 23rd Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues and the neighbouring corners on 2nd and 3rd Avenues. In 1984, this block was permanently closed to regular traffic and a "Transit Terminal" constructed, consisting of widened sidewalks, heated shelters, and angled curbs to provide three "bays" on each side of the block. The 23rd Street Transit Terminal was opened on November 2, 1984. This terminal area is perceived by many as unsafe, and most of the businesses along this block have relocated; however, Saskatoon Transit has made some recent improvements, including a constant security guard presence and a Customer Service Centre where tickets, passes and schedules may be obtained. The 2005 Strategic Plan Study recommended that major improvements be carried out to the downtown terminal, but as of 2007 no changes have been made.

Diesel buses supplemented the streetcar service from at least 1938. In the 1940s a decision was made to replace streetcar service with trolley buses; the first trolley bus ran on November 22, 1948, starting a three-year transition period, and the last streetcar ran on November 10, 1951. With the demise of the streetcars, Saskatoon Municipal Railway was renamed Saskatoon Transit System on August 15, 1949. The trolley buses were in turn phased out and ran for the last time on May 10, 1974.

Although the official name is now Saskatoon Transit Services (as of 1998), it is generally known simply as "Saskatoon Transit", which is what appears on their Web page, logo, and all their brochures.

Two of the original Saskatoon streetcars are on display and being restored at the Saskatchewan Railway Museum.

2005 Strategic Plan Study

A comprehensive studyIBI Group. [ Saskatoon Transit Strategic Plan Study] , Saskatoon Transit, October 2005.] of Saskatoon Transit's service was undertaken in 2005, outlining many deficiencies and making many recommendations. Transit ridership had fallen from 12.4 million passengers in 1987 to 7.2 million passengers in 2005, while the city's population increased from 182,000 to 214,000. The conclusions of the study were summarised in a Short Term Plan and a Long Term Plan. Most of the recommendations of the Short Term Plan have been implemented, and the Long Term Plan is being carried out, subject of course to funding and other considerations.

The main recommendations of the Short Term Plan were:

*A re-orientation of the current regular service network to better serve the University of Saskatchewan and other key destinations.
*The introduction of higher-order [DART] service on four corridors interlined into two routes.
*A new bus terminal at Market Mall, and major improvements to the terminals downtown and at the University.

The routes in place prior to 2006 had not been substantially modified since the 1970s, and some since the 1950s, with the result that many neighbourhoods, particularly the newer suburbs, had poor service. Some areas such as Montgomery Place and Briarwood had no bus service at all on weekends. Many outlying neighbourhoods (e.g., Dundonald, Silverspring, Briarwood) had "stub routes" that deposited riders at a suburban mall transfer point, necessitating a transfer, and often two or three, to get anywhere in the city. Post-secondary institutions were under-served relative to the number of students using the buses; SIAST Kelsey Campus had only one major route serving it, so that trips to SIAST from most places in Saskatoon involved a transfer onto an overcrowded bus. Due to extreme congestion at the University of Saskatchewan, several routes bypassed the campus altogether, forcing students to cross College Drive on foot. Service to the airport was nonexistent, and service to industrial areas was extremely poor. Demand in these areas was also extremely low, at least in part due to the poor service.

The Market Mall terminal has been built, and a temporary terminal with car traffic prohibited has been built at the University, pending a longer-term solution. Work has yet to begin on improving or relocating the downtown terminal.

The Long Term Plan is a 10-year plan that focuses on the infrastructure needed to maintain the improvements to the system implemented in the Short Term Plan and expansion needed to keep up with the expected increases in ridership that the improvements will generate. Issues include staffing, fleet replacement, refurbishing older buses, maintenance, new technologies such as emissions reduction and "smart" fare collection. Critical items include:

*Rejuvenating the fleet. The industry standard is to replace buses on an 18-year cycle; by this standard, Saskatoon Transit's fleet is quite old. The plan recommends replacing 6 buses a year through 2010, and 7 buses a year for the remaining years of the plan, as well as expanding the fleet by 12 buses.
*New transit garage. The current transit garage is too small for the fleet and surrounded by residential properties that make it undesirable if not impossible to expand the facility. A satellite facility or entirely new facility in a different location, probably an industrial park, is recommended within the next 5 years.
*More bus shelters. The plan recommends a target number of 215 bus shelters (30% of stops), or 22 per year over the course of the plan, up from 3 or 4 per year that are currently installed. This would include shelters at all DART stops, perhaps of a distinctive design.
*Fare technology. A review of fare collection options, and in particular smart card technology, should be undertaken within a year.
*Transit-oriented development. Work with urban planners to design neighbourhoods that work with public transit and discourage use of private vehicles.
*Signal priority and queue-jump lanes. Allow buses to avoid congestion by "turning the lights green" for them, and providing bus-only lanes where needed, for instance at the approaches to University Bridge.


Starting in September 2007, University of Saskatchewan undergraduate students will pay a mandatory $59/term fee that turns their student card into a transit pass (the Universal Bus Pass or U-PASS). The University of Saskatchewan Students' Union held a referendum in February 2007, and the motion passed with 59% of voters approving. [ U-PASS] , University of Saskatchewan Students' Union, November 2007.] A second referendum will be held in 2009 to decide whether to implement the U-PASS permanently. A similar referendum in 2004 failed; it is believed that the improved routes, combined with allowing students in on-campus residences to opt out of the U-PASS, were the important factors that changed the result in 2007. Saskatoon Transit is planning further service improvements to deal with the expected increase in ridership.


July 2006 route changes

The most visible and immediate of the 2005 Strategic Plan Study was the complete overhaul of bus routes effective July 2, 2006. The new routes provide generally better service overall; however, quite a few areas have seen lower service levels, particularly older central neighbourhoods that used to have numerous redundant routes. This has resulted in inconveniences for many passengers, especially those who had used the system for a long time.

Service is now more evenly distributed throughout the city. Nearly every bus [Effective September 2, 2007, Route 13 no longer goes to the downtown terminal, but still goes to the University Terminal. This means that one would have to transfer twice to get from Route 13 to the peak-hours-only Route 22. With every other pair of routes, a direct transfer is possible at some point.] now goes to the downtown terminal, substantially reducing the number of transfers. 90% of Saskatoon has access to the University of Saskatchewan without needing to transfer, and peak service to the University is roughly doubled (57 buses/hour versus 33); SIAST Kelsey Campus is now served by a DART route as well as three other bus routes. The route changes have resulted in an increase of 2.3% in service hours (6,600 additional hours) with no additional buses or operating costs; part of this is the improved efficiency of the new routes, and part is due to additional service in off-peak hours.

Latest route changes

A number of the new routes have been modified since the introduction date; prior to September 2007, most of these have been minor routing changes to improve service to very specific areas. The following more substantial changes were implemented effective September 2, 2007:

* On weekdays, Route 12 now serves CN Industrial and the new Stonebridge development; this new southward section ends at Market Mall. On weekends, Route 12 does not serve this section.
* Route 13 no longer serves the downtown terminal; instead, it provides direct service to the University from Exhibition. It also continues to run during the midday time slot.
* Route 20 has been eliminated altogether, having been mostly replaced by an extended Route 12.
* Route 21 now runs eastbound during the midday time slot as well as the afternoon peak. Both directions now serve an additional loop around University Heights Suburban Centre.

DART (Direct Access Rapid Transit)

The DART routes are the flagship of the new service. The four DART routes interline in the central sections to form two corridors with extremely frequent service. Along this portion of their routes, bus stops are widely spaced to increase speed, and there are "express" sections on each route with no stops for over a kilometre. The interlined routes 50/60 run from Confederation Mall to The Centre via downtown and the University of Saskatchewan, and routes 70/80 run from The Mall at Lawson Heights to the University Heights Suburban Centre via SIAST, downtown and the University. The routes continue past these points, each serving a residential loop at either end (a total of 8 loops). 27 [ Saskatoon Transit main page] , June 26, 2007.] of the newest buses in Saskatoon Transit's fleet have been given a distinctive mint-green DART livery and are used exclusively on the DART routes. Most of these buses are air-conditioned and all have bicycle racks on the front.

Regular and commuter routes

There are 12 non-DART bus routes. Although the buses serving these routes are generally older, about a third of the non-DART buses are now low-floor, including 20 acquired in 2007 and 2008. Most have a blue livery to contrast with the DART buses.

The 10 regular routes are numbered 1–6 and 11–14. These routes provide comprehensive geographical coverage of every area of the city, except for the areas served by the DART residential loops. They are slower than their DART counterparts, with more frequent stops and less frequent service. All the routes meet downtown, except Route 13. All the single-digit routes except Route 2 also meet at the University, along with Route 13. The single-digit routes mainly serve residential areas, while the double-digit routes serve a mixture of residential and industrial areas.

Routes 21 and 22 are specialty routes that provide additional service for commuters. They only operate in one direction at a time—toward downtown during the morning rush hour, and away from downtown at other times (midday and afternoon peak for Route 21; afternoon peak only for Route 22). Route 21 serves Forest Grove and the northern half of Sutherland, and Route 22 serves Fairhaven and Parkridge.

ervice frequencies

NOTES: DART bus frequency is half the above on non-interlined parts of the routes. Routes 21 and 22 provide peak-direction service only (towards downtown during morning peak, away from downtown at other times).

Route names

The names next to each route number are used on the "curtains" that display route information on the front of each bus.

*1 Westview - Wildwood
*2 Meadowgreen - 8th Street
*3 Riversdale - College Park
*4 Dundonald - Willowgrove
*5 Fairhaven - Briarwood
*6 Broadway - Clarence
*11 Airport - Exhibition
*12 River Heights - Stonebridge*
*13 Lawson - Exhibition
*14 City Centre - North Industrial
*21 City Centre - Forest Grove
*22 City Centre - McCormack
*50 Pacific Heights - Lakeview
*60 Confederation - Lakeridge
*70 Lawson Heights - Silverspring
*80 Silverwood Heights - Erindale/Arbor CreekNOTE: On weekends, Route 12 terminates at the downtown terminal and the curtain reads "City Centre" rather than "Stonebridge".

Some buses change their route number at their termini, which is advertised in the bus pamphlets as a "stay-in-seat transfer". The list of these "transfers" is as follows:

* 1 Westview becomes 2 8th Street East at Confederation Mall
* 1 Wildwood becomes 2 Meadowgreen at The Centre
* 2 Meadowgreen becomes 1 Wildwood at Confederation Mall
* 2 8th Street East becomes 1 Westview at The Centre
* 3 Riversdale becomes 4 Willowgrove at Confederation Mall
* 4 Dundonald becomes 3 College Park at Confederation Mall

Other services

Access Transit

Until about 1975, the Saskatchewan Council for Crippled Children and Adults (SCCCA) operated a 'contract' service that provided transportation for children and young adults who were physically challenged. These passengers were either attending school or a training center. Many persons with similar physical limitations had no access to transportation services, and began to put pressure on the SCCCA to extend the service to accommodate the general population. This would be a phone-in service, dispatchers were needed. Two buses were provided for this purpose, with the City of Saskatoon and the Province of Sask. providing funding for the service. The SCCCA continued to operate the service. In time, with a name change to the Sask. Abilities Council, the operation of 'Special Needs Transportation' continued until the end of 1998. In 1999, the Special Needs Transportation AdvisoryCommittee was created for the purpose of determining public needs and direction for the City of Saskatoon. [cite web
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title = February 2002 ACCESSability Newsletter (PDF)
publisher = City of Saskatoon · Departments · Utility Services · Transit Services · Access Transit
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accessdate = 2008-08-08
For some time prior to this date, the Board of Directors of the SAC were urging discontinuation of Public Transportation. After all, the SAC was a non-profit organization. The City of Saskatoon was advised several months in advance of this decision. A company called First Bus was therefore contracted to provide Public Transportation. [cite web
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title = October 2003 ACCESSability Newsletter (PDF)
work = City of Saskatoon · Departments · Utility Services · Transit Services · Access Transit
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accessdate = 2008-08-08
] After 5 years, the City of Saskatoon took over the service completely, making it a part of the regular Transit System. The buses are equipped with lifts for wheelchairs, and a tie-down system. [cite web
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title = City of Saskatoon · Departments · Utility Services · Transit Services · Access Transit
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] Several buses are in operation - a computer system aids dispatchers in putting rides together in such a way that the buses are not wasting unused time. It is a door-to-door service. The service is available to anyone who had difficulty accessing regular transportation. Passengers must be registered. Access Transit in Saskatoon has been used as a model for other cities in Canada and the United States. It is a service which has provided independence to many residents.cite web
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title = ACCESS
work = City of Saskatoon
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The Crescent Shuttle

The Crescent Shuttle (prior to 2008, the "Flag a Ride" shuttle bus) was a free shuttle bus service connecting the Broadway, Downtown and Riversdale business areas. It was discontinued June 1, 2008 due to low ridership.


Saskatoon Transit's fleet consists almost exclusively of 40-foot diesel buses, of which there are approximately 120 in service. As of 2006, there were 113 full-sized buses in Saskatoon Transit's fleet, ranging from brand new to 30 years old, with an average age of 15 years. Since 1995, all new buses have been New Flyer low floor buses; these now make up more than half the fleet, with 72 in service, of which 46 have been acquired since 2006. Four of the buses purchased in 2006 were electric hybrid buses. 90 buses are required for peak hour service commitments. [ and others have observed that the actual numbers of buses acquired in 2006, 2007 and 2008 are 18, 12 and 16 respectively.]

In July 2008, a New Flyer 60LF electric hybrid articulated bus was test-driven by Saskatoon Transit.

Transit Terminal

On July 16, 2008, Saskatoon city council authorised a $4.2 million transit terminal to be constructed on a parking lot adjacent to the current on-street terminal. The new terminal would centre around a 600 square meter LEED-certified building with a green roof, surrounded by a ring of raised-platform stops. In addition to Saskatoon Transit, the building could also house a coffee shop and government offices such as social services or immigration. [Citation
last = Nickel
first = Rod
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title = Council supports transit terminal
newspaper = Saskatoon StarPhoenix
pages = A3
year = 2008
date = Thursday July 17
url =


ee also

* Saskatchewan Railway Museum - Saskatoon Street Cars

External links

* [ Saskatoon Transit]
* [ Saskatoon Transit's online planner: Click and Go]
* [ Tom's Trolley Bus Pictures Saskatoon]

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