New rapid bus lines could mean massive changes for Winnipeg Transit

The opening of the extension of the southwest rapid transit line could mean massive changes as dozens of routes are cancelled, added or changed. It also means new drivers are needed and Winnipeg Transit's budget goes up by millions of dollars.

Winnipeg Transit proposes adding 15 new routes, cancelling 18 others, plans to hire dozens of drivers

Winnipeg Transit hopes its new spine and feeder system in southwest Winnipeg will move passengers faster and more conveniently. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

The completion of the southwest rapid transit line to the University of Manitoba could bring massive changes to routes, funding and staffing for Winnipeg Transit.

Transit is asking councillors on the city's infrastructure renewal and public works committee to approve the changes, included in a report delivered to the committee on Tuesday, and name the completed busway the Blue Line.

The proposed Blue Line would connect downtown Winnipeg with the U of M and form the "spine" of the network, while neighbourhood routes in southwest Winnipeg would run feeder buses.

The $467-million rapid transit line is scheduled to open in April 2020.

Plans for the new system would see passengers transfer buses more often but get them to their destinations faster, with more frequent service and fewer "pass-ups" — loaded buses that drive by passengers because they cannot take on more riders, Winnipeg Transit officials say.

"The idea is that if somebody is going anywhere along the Blue Line, or if they're transferring to a feeder route at one of the stations, they don't need to check the schedule anymore," Bjorn Radstrom, Winnipeg Transit's manager of service development, told reporters on Tuesday.

"They just show up at the stop [and] the bus comes every three to four minutes."

Radstrom says the plan should also make bus trips to get to the rapid transit line much faster.

"The feeder routes themselves shouldn't be subject to much delay at all, because they're not operating through all the congested conditions downtown, on Pembina Highway, through Confusion Corner and whatnot," he said.

"So it separates these two things. You've got shorter, more reliable feeder routes, and then the frequent service on the long route."

Transit officials say the new system will deliver an average wait time of of two to three minutes for transfers from feeder routes to the Blue Line, and an average wait of five to eight minutes for transfers from the Blue Line to feeder routes. (CBC)

Under the proposal, 18 bus routes will be cancelled to accommodate the addition of the new transit line, 15 new routes will be added and another 10 routes will see changes.

The service changes and new routes would require Transit to hire 38 new drivers and 11 other full- and part-time staff.

The proposed changes would cost the city $2.5 million in 2020, rising to $3.5 million by 2023. The new funds would require approval from city council.

Transit has purchased 28 new 18-metre articulated, or bendy, buses to run the length of the Blue Line.

The public works committee will discuss the proposal at its Nov. 4 meeting.

U of M trip could be 10 minutes faster

Transit believes the new system will deliver an average of two- to three-minute wait times for transfers from feeder routes to the Blue Line, and an average of five- to eight-minute wait times for transfers from the Blue Line to feeder routes.

Despite the many proposed alterations, there are few actual stop changes or stop cancellations in the plan. Passengers will still see bus stops in the same locations as in the past.

"One thing that we were very careful of is to make sure that we're maintaining coverage across southwest Winnipeg. So we didn't want to leave people out in the cold with no transit routes," said Transit project manager Adam Budowski.

"There are a few special cases where … that might not be the case."

The city hopes under ideal conditions, the ride from downtown to the U of M will improve by eight to 10 minutes.

A spokesperson for Amalgamated Transit Union 1505 applauded the possibility of new drivers and staff in an emailed statement, but expressed concern the city's proposed budget for Transit was less than the rate of inflation.

Proposed cancelled routes:

  • 51 St. Vital/University of Manitoba
  • 64 Lindenwoods Express
  • 72 South Pointe/University of Manitoba
  • 76 St. Vital/University of Manitoba
  • 84 Lindenwoods/Fort Rouge Station
  • 86 Bridgwater/Fort Rouge Station
  • 94 Whyteridge/Wildwood
  • 99 Downtown/Misericordia/Windermere
  • 109 St. Norbert DART
  • 137 Richmond Super Express
  • 161 University Super Express
  • 162 Downtown/University of Manitoba/St. Norbert/Turnbull Drive
  • 163 Waverley Heights Express
  • 170 Downtown/University of Manitoba/St. Norbert
  • 180 Industrial Express
  • 181 Whyte Ridge Express
  • 183 Richmond West Express
  • 185 Osborne Village Express

Proposed changed routes:

  • 23 Broadway (formerly 29 Sherbrook – Broadway branch)
  • 29 Sherbrook (Stafford branch)
  • 47 Transcona and 160 Pembina (merged into one route)
  • 60 Pembina
  • 65 Grant Express
  • 66 Grant
  • 68 Crescent
  • 74 Kenaston
  • 78 Waverley
  • 91 St. Norbert

Proposed new routes:

  • Blue Line
  • 635 Osborne Village
  • 641 Lindenwoods West
  • 642 Lindenwoods East
  • 649 Chevrier
  • 650 McGillivray
  • 662 Richmond
  • 671 Dalhousie North
  • 672 Killarney
  • 676 Bridgwater/River Road
  • 677 Wilkes
  • 690 Industrial
  • 691 Whyte Ridge
  • 693 Waverley Heights
  • 694 Wildwood
A map provided by the City of Winnipeg shows proposed route changes that may come into effect after the rapid transit lines start operating. If approved, changes will come into effect April 12, 2020. (Submitted by City of Winnipeg)


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