Saskatoon Transit maintenance manager ‘moving to a different position’

Four days after Saskatoon city councillors unanimously voted for an investigation into why there have been hundreds of service and route cancellations this winter, the city has confirmed one big change in the transit department so far.

According to a brief statement from transit director Jim McDonald: “Effective March 14, 2022, the Maintenance Manager of Saskatoon Transit will be moving to a different position within the department.

“An interim Maintenance Manager has been assigned until that position is filled through a competitive hiring process. There are no other changes within the supervisory positions at Transit Maintenance.”

The city declined an interview request.

During Monday’s transit committee meeting, Coun. Darren Hill introduced a motion requesting an investigation and internal review into a variety of issues including service reductions, mechanical issues, parts sourcing and preventative maintenance.

“I am hearing things from different things from transit operations across Canada, and I don’t understand why the City of Saskatoon is an anomaly, and why these issues are happening here when they’re not happening anywhere else,” he said.

On Tuesday, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 615 president Darcy Pederson said he’d contacted nearly a dozen cities across Canada, and none of them had been experiencing mechanical failures like Saskatoon.

“I actually reached out to properties across Canada last week to find out if we’re having a parts supply shortage,” he said. “I can tell you I’ve talked to Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary, Regina, Lethbridge, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton (and cities in) Nova Scotia. None of them, not one of them, is seeing a parts supply shortage.

“Edmonton actually suggested that, ‘Hey, we have such a big supply of parts here, we’re even willing to share with Saskatoon.’ I don’t know where (McDonald’s comment) is coming from.”

Coun. David Kirton said he’d done some of his own investigating as well and several cities including Regina had not been having the same issues as Saskatoon.

“The short answer is no. They had not cancelled runs because of bus shortages, and they haven’t done that in many, many years,” Kirton said. “They said they have had parts availability issues, but it hasn’t been enough to cause a shortage of equipment.”

McDonald has said some of the reasons for the mechanical failures include the cold winter weather, an aging bus fleet, and trouble sourcing parts necessary to fix Saskatoon buses.

A report to the city’s Transportation Committee is due on April 11.

Saskatoon Transit maintenance manager ‘moving to a different position’ | 650 CKOM