brt debate

The debate over rapid transit in Winnipeg is on again as the city prepares to expand the corridor from the Jubilee Underpass to the University of Manitoba. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

Is anyone else out there scratching their head and wondering what year it is? 

Our city councillors are having discussions this week about Bus Rapid Transit and whether or not phase two should be set aside in favour of improving the roads instead.  

One councillor even raised the idea of Light Rail Transit as a better option than continuing with phase two of BRT.

What the heck is going on? 

Wasn't the time for hammering out all of these details sometime before we spent the money on phase one? 

Why is there a petition going around that has thousands of signatures on it supporting redirecting the millions of dollars earmarked for this into road projects? 

Imagine if this were a house.  

It's like they designed and debated it for years, took out loans and then built the kitchen, and then decided to move on.  

I am not the only person baffled by city council.

Information Radio listeners Friday heard two councillors on the air debating the pros and cons of phase two of Bus Rapid Transit and the listener line started ringing. 

"Am I hallucinating?"  one caller said, "I can't believe what this debate was about.

I would suggest that these two councillors ride a bus, specifically the North Main bus and you will immediately observe that we have the worst service in North America." 

Another said this: "We're in the middle of this rapid transit and we should just continue and get it done. I can't believe I'm still hearing these same stupid conversations. And I'd like to point out clearly to Scott Fielding, for a city that has two major bus companies as major employers. Why would we not be doing something to further that technology instead of barking up the LRT trail which is going to cost billions more?"  

In fairness to Scott Fielding it was Councillor Russ Wyatt that has brought up Light Rail Transit again.    

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this, however, is the show of support for not moving forward with a plan that has been hammered out over thirty years.

Here are some comments from our Facebook Page where we asked: 

Should we continue BRT as planned? Switch to LRT? Or scrap it and use that money to fix roads?

Jen Rohl: 

Fix the streets! I live 2 hours north and our gravel roads are better maintained. Heck even our "back roads" to no where would put St. James to shame. Time for city council to realize the infrastructure they have is rapidly crumbling into the black holes formerly known as pot holes!

Babcha Dawn:

Neither now. BRT is a joke. I drive under the Osborne Street underpass everyday. There's never more than 6 people coming and going from it. We missed the boat on light rail. Time to fix the streets and build some decent thoroughfares so the city isn't in gridlock 9 out of 12 months!

Linda Buckmaster:

A rapid transit that feeds one small part of the city is pointless. Plus people aren't going to be enticed in minus 50 degree weather or raging snow or rain storm to walk blocks to get to a bus stop or stand at a stop waiting a half hour or more for a late bus. People have become lazy. Door to door is what most want these days. Buses don't fit this bill. That being said, fix the roads.

Not everyone was so quick to stay in their cars: 

Peter Pich: 
LRT. Winnipeg continues to expand...If we do not want to suffer later....we need to think ahead. The Floodway was not seen as necessary to a lot of small thinkers...but we certainly are NOW thankful we have it. Manitoba has electricity. We do not import it. Let's use it right. They are looking at electric bus service for Winnipeg, So they do understand the importance of this source of power. Winnipeg needs to grow. Flexible bus use is not the answer to our long term needs.

Ian Walker:
Winnipegers need to get with the times. Having everyone commute in personal motor vehicles is terribly inefficient. What we need to do is invest in making transit more efficient and invest in more active transportation.

And so it seems that the debate has begun again both at City Hall and on the streets of Winnipeg. 

Where it's going to lead I will not begin to guess.

I will say this.  If we don't get on the same page soon...we aren't going anywhere rapidly.

What do you think?