What would it cost to buy 500 new buses, hire 500 new bus drivers and keep them on Winnipeg's roads for the next 10 years?
No, it's not a trick question. It's the question a group of Winnipeggers is posing in a grassroots effort to scrap rapid transit.
"We would get so much more for our money if we just invest in the transit system we've got now," said Joe Kornelsen, one of the creators of functionaltransit.com.
"This way, all of Winnipeg would benefit from it."
According to Kornelsen, $450 million could buy commuters a bigger, better and more expansive transit service — especially when compared to the roughly $590-million price tag that Phase Two of rapid transit would cost us. (For that kind of money, we could pay for close to 1,500 new buses and 1,200 more drivers, he says.)
That's one reason functionaltransit.com launched its lobby effort.
"We're not engineers, we're not traffic analysts," Kornelsen said, adding that he did the number-crunching based on Winnipeg Transit statistics.
"We're just commuters looking for a better solution."
Admittedly, he's a disgruntled commuter at that. Kornelsen said he spent eight years relying on Transit Tom to get around town, most often from the city centre to the South End, but got fed up with missed connections, overcrowded buses and delayed service.
"They just made it extremely difficult to get anywhere," he said. "I just couldn't do it anymore."
It's a sentiment that Fort Richmond resident Norlan Page can relate to. It takes him three buses, one scooter and more than an hour — on a good day — to get to work each day.
"I work at Red River College's Notre Dame campus and going down Notre Dame, especially when there's construction, is really frustrating," he said.
"So sometimes it's easiest to jump off the bus, use my kick-scooter to get past the construction and grab another bus later."
What's worse, he figures he's got it easy compared to others on the bus.
"I know that my commute is not the worst in Winnipeg. Many of the others on my bus are already well into their daily journey when I start," Page said.
Broadcasting live from Confusion Corner
Both Page and Kornelsen will join Marcy Markusa on CBC's Information Radio this morning as she broadcasts live from Winnipeg's busiest morning intersection, Osborne and Corydon — also known as Confusion Corner.
Each day, more than 91,100 vehicles make their way through that intersection. Right behind it is the city's first rapid transit corridor, which each day, gets 28,000 people to their destinations, too.
Each of the city's seven mayoral candidates are also expected to join Markusa to share with listeners what they would do to make Page and Kornelsen's commute go faster, too — if they're voted into office later this month.
In the meantime, Kornelsen said he hopes they look at functionaltransit.com, do some number-crunching of their own, and give their commuting ideas the green light to move forward.