On March 22, as transportation planet Mercury in Aries formed a square to "illegitimate power and hierarchy" Pluto in Capricorn, the neo-conservative Brad Wall government in Saskatchewan, my home province, announced in its budget that it will be shutting down the province's bus system.
Yes, that's right. No public debate, no public consultation, no transportation alternatives offered. It's just over because Brad Wall and his buddies say it is.
This government, full of "one car per person" drivers, decided that it can unilaterally eliminate (Pluto) a mass transportation system (Mercury) that people throughout the province have relied on for over 70 years. ("'It's going to be quite a nightmare': Passengers outraged by STC closure" by Jason Warick of CBC News)
The Pluto in Capricorn bulldozer strikes again, creating a nightmarish and potentially deadly (Pluto) transportation scenario (Mercury) for many...
The Wall government was much beloved by conservatives in the heavily oil-dependent province of Saskatchewan when oil was at $100 U.S. a barrel. And this government spent and spent and spent keeping itself in that golden position. No thought for the future.
Then, of course, the price of oil crashed. As it always does. Oil is a highly-manipulated, highly-volatile, boom-and-bust commodity. This really should have come as zero surprise. But there is a strange amnesia that sets in when people are riding an oil high. They somehow believe it's going to last forever and spend accordingly. The Wall government was no different.
The price of oil has now been halved and sits around $50 U.S. a barrel.
And now this government has decided - as so many governments do - to make up for its own spending sprees on the backs of the poor and sick and vulnerable in society. All to save $17 million a year, which in the scope of a provincial budget the size of Saskatchewan's is a drop in the bucket.
Saskatchewan is an agriculturally-based province, meaning it has many small communities and farms spread throughout its land mass as people go about producing food to feed the world (among other activities). It also has many remote northern communities.
Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) is the only bus service that goes to many of the smaller, rural communities. It connects the little places with each other, and it also connects the little places to the cities, where people can access essential services that can't be found in the smaller communities. Many people use the bus service for doctor's appointments and medical treatments, and this decision leaves them stranded. Around 300 people used STC to access cancer treatments alone in 2016. ("STC shutdown leaves cancer patients looking for a ride" by Adam Hunter of CBC News.)
STC is also often the only company that will deliver freight to the smaller communities.
There is a Greyhound run in Saskatchewan, but it only goes along major routes, missing the more remote and rural communities in the province.
In short, this bus is an essential service for many seniors, disabled people, sick people, rural people, students, people living below the poverty line, and people who do not drive.