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Saskatoon bus riders to face shortage of buses, route cancellations for a while

Chris Tebo, 20, taking a break at the Saskatoon Bus Station during his Greyhound bus trip on August 6, 2008.

Jimmy Jeong/Jimmy Jeong/Epic Photography

The City of Saskatoon did not have enough working buses available to run full transit service for the first day of classes and work due to a backlog of buses needing repair.

And the city says bus riders can expect more of the same for at least until the end of next week.

All direct routes, some high school specials, and extra buses for high volumes of customers during peak hours start were cancelled Tuesday.

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Jeff Jorgenson, Saskatoon's general manager of transportation, says one reason for the backlog is that several mechanics are retiring and the city is having difficulty finding replacements.

Currently, the city has 15 journeymen mechanics, eight apprentices and they want to add another hire two more journeymen mechanics.

The city announced Friday afternoon that the cancellations would happen on Tuesday.

Jorgenson says he knows not giving much notice has angered people, but adds they didn't know until Friday how many buses they would be short.

There was confusion and frustration at many of Saskatoon's bus stops Tuesday.

"I didn't know about it myself until now, so there definitely is going to be a change in my plans," passenger Travis Bitner said at a bus stop.

"I guess I'm going to have to find a ride with a roommate or try and make my way here a couple hours earlier."

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"I use the bus every day to get to and from work and the route that I was just on has actually been cancelled a few times since it started in the summer, apparently for the same reasons," said Wes Sutherland, who works at Royal University Hospital.

"It's awkward for me because I don't know until it doesn't show up. Every time, so far, that it has been cancelled, even when you go online after... it doesn't say anything until people start tweeting, 'Where is the bus?"'

Max Fineday, president of the University of Saskatchewan Students' Union says he got calls and emails throughout the long weekend from students concerned about how they would get to campus.

"It seems pretty ill-thought-out that the Friday before school starts, basically without any warning, they announce that all university direct routes are being cut," Fineday said.

The students' union has been promoting transit as the most convenient way to get to campus and students are upset that the city is unable to provide the service.

Jorgenson says the city is bringing in 20 used buses and five new over the next month to ease the situation.

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