The University of Saskatchewan is conducting a study on the Kikinahk Friendship Centre’s bus service for over a year.

The service, which began in October of 2022, drives clients to and from Prince Albert five-days a week and is free.

Jacob A.K. Alhassen who is an Assistant Professor at U of S and the director of the study said he contacted the Friendship Centre as soon as he heard about the service.

“I phoned up Ron immediately. I didn’t know Ron before that time and I said, ‘you’re really doing this? This is fantastic, I have done this type of research before, I want to study this because I think it’s unique and I genuinely don’t know of any other community in Canada that has free inter-city transportation,’” said Alhassan.

The statistics showed that the majority of people using the bus travel to Prince Albert to visit family and friends, the second most common reason is for medical appointments, while the third being for work.

Other stats show that 53 percent of clients are female, 71 percent are adults and 67.7 percent are Status First Nations.

“I see it as a benefit quite frankly not only for La Ronge I mean I’m proud that I was able to get the funding and my board allowed it to expand for La Ronge because it’s needed here, but realistically it’s needed everywhere in the North and probably just as much in Alberta and Manitoba as well,” explained Executive Director of Kikinahk Friendship Centre, Ron Woytowich.

The overarching goal of the study is to showcase the need for transit services in northern communities.

“We are going to do a more in-depth survey on the bus in the next little while to understand how the bus affects people’s quality of life, how the bus affects people’s social participation,” said Alhassan.

Woyotowich told MBC that he hopes funding in the future will allow the bus service to expand further, potentially with a bus that can drive clients to Saskatoon and a bus to drive clients within La Ronge.

(Photo by Jenna Smith.)