End of the line

Rider Express has ceased its Prince Albert operations after it didn't obtain a business licence and the city refused to grant it a one-year extension. (Facebook photo)

Rider Express, Forward Coach Lines cease trips between P.A. and Saskatoon due to lack of funds.

One of the private companies operating passenger van trips to Saskatoon has been forced to shut down their route because they didn’t have a business license.

Rider Express posted to their Facebook page Wednesday announcing they were ceasing operations, blaming the service disruption on city hall.

“Unfortunately he have to close our Prince Albert road effecting from today,” the Facebook update said.

“We are having issue with PA city hall. If you guys want this service to be back on again please contact the PA city. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

When reached by phone, company founder Firat Uray said the company was already struggling to sustain the Prince Albert route. Paying for a business licence to keep operating wasn’t worth it.

“We don’t have the money right now to buy it,” Uray said.

“There is no budget because this route was not making money. We were okay doing it until we heard we had to pay more for a business licence. It doesn’t make sense to buy a licence for nothing.”

Uray said he was subsidizing the P.A. route out of his own pocket. He didn’t mind, as many of the passengers using the service were heading for necessary medical appointments. He proposed a compromise to the city – allow them to operate without a licence for a year while they build up their business. The city turned them down.

Mayor Greg Dionne questioned the competency of a business that can’t pay a few hundred dollars for a business licence.

“A business license for the whole year is $500,” Dionne said. The 2017 license would have been for a reduced rate, somewhere around $200 – $300, since it wasn’t for a full year.

“They said they couldn’t afford a $200 business licence,” the mayor continued.

“I couldn’t give them a break because we have other companies supplying the same service that are licensed.”

Saskatoon and Prince Albert once STC was wound down. They began operating in the city in July.

Another passenger van company, Forward Coach Lines, was also operating in Prince Albert.

Forward Coach Lines couldn’t afford to keep operating and was forced to close down. Both their phone numbers are now out of service, and their website redirects to Rider Express.

For more on this story, please see the November 3 print or e-edition of the Daily Herald