Despite getting city council approval, the second phase of bus rapid transit could be in jeopardy – depending on who gets elected to be Winnipeg’s next mayor in October.
Three months ago, city council approved a $590 million plan to expand bus rapid transit from the existing Southwest Transitway corridor more than seven kilometres to the University of Manitoba.
- Coun. Browaty cans rapid transit expansion, wants referendum
- City report lays out plan for Phase 2 of Winnipeg rapid transit
But at least two people running for mayor want to scrap those plans.
Candidate David Sanders said if elected, he would toast bus rapid transit and instead go back to the drawing board.
Sanders wants to explore options with rail companies to bring light rail to the city.
"It appears that council has been hoodwinked into going out of the way to provide glorified express bus service to assist certain land developers,” said Sanders.
He said the planned bus line, which will run directly south of a huge Shindico development on Taylor Avenue, stands to benefit developers.
"A boondoggle is quote, ’an unnecessary, wasteful or fraudulent project,’ and as approved by the present city council, this project may deserve all three of those labels," he said.
Recently, candidate Gord Steeves has also said he would quash Phase Two of BRT – something he initially supported in May of this year, prompting harsh criticism from fellow candidates.
But Steeves has not been clear about what alternatives he would replace it with – if any.
“That would depend on what form that comes forward, and when we say high-speed, what does high-speed mean?” he said.
Neither candidate has said what it might cost taxpayers if the projects are scrapped at this stage.
On the other side of the issue, candidates Brian Bowman, Coun. Paula Havixbeck and Judy Wasylycia-Leis.
Bowman wants to build six rapid transit corridors by 2030, but he has been vague about how he would come up with the cash to do that.
Wasylycia-Leis also hasn’t offered specifics on how the city will fund Phase 2, which will come at a $20 million price tag over the next 30 years.
“There are questions about financing, but that doesn’t mean we stop now, dead in our tracks once more and go back to the drawing board,” she said Thursday.
Winnipeggers go to the polls on Oct. 22.