Winnipeg Transit riders, students angry with last-minute route changes

Sudden reductions to Winnipeg Transit's fall schedule, caused by a bus maintenance backlog, is angering those who rely on the bus to get around the city, including post-secondary students who are being encouraged to take transit.

University students' associations say Transit should have told them about service changes sooner

Bus riders frustrated with long waits on some transit routes Thursday morning 0:45

Sudden reductions to Winnipeg Transit's fall schedule, caused by a bus maintenance backlog, is angering those who rely on transit to get around the city.

Service reductions on dozens of routes were announced late Wednesday, as tens of thousands of students are converging upon the city's universities and colleges for a new academic year.

While no routes are being cancelled, it means Winnipeg Transit is scaling back service on some routes, as it currently cannot meet the demand required at peak service times.

Winnipeg Transit will release a revised schedule early Friday morning. It is expected to remain in place until December.

Elizabeth Britney Vagi, who relies on the bus, said she's angry with Winnipeg Transit's poor planning.

"They want people to take the bus service? They should improve the bus service, not decrease the bus service, you know?"

Amber Schellenberg, who was waiting for a bus at the Osborne rapid transit station on Thursday morning, said she hopes there won't be too many delays. She also expressed her frustration with the city's transit system.

"Considering it's supposed to be rapid transit, it's not going to be very rapid if there's only a couple of buses running down it," she said. "Seems like a waste of money if they're going to extend the track [rapid transit corridor]."

Saida Basic said she already got into trouble on Wednesday, when her bus did not show up.

"Usually I take at bus at quarter to four. But I come from my apartment at 3:30, but no buses. I'm waiting almost one hour," she said.

Others took to social media to criticize Winnipeg Transit and the short notice it gave to riders about the schedule changes.

Students late for classes

Student associations at the University of Manitoba and University of Winnipeg both said bus delays caused students to be late for classes on Thursday morning.

"There's a few worried that they're not going to get to campus on time or at all, and they're scared their lives will grind to a halt as a result of this," said Jeremiah Kopp, president of the University of Manitoba Students' Union.

Transit should have put out a warning earlier than Wednesday night, enabling students to plan for the disruption, he added.

"The city, they didn't have this problem fall out of the sky, right? We would have known that there were maintenance issues on the buses," Kopp said.

"If Transit had reached out earlier, maybe we could have worked together to communicate to students rather than having everybody have to change their schedule at the 11th hour."

Peyton Veitch, president of the University of Winnipeg Students' Association, said 60 per cent of students rely on transit and many are concerned that their schedules may be affected by the bus changes.

Veitch said the students' association plans to meet with the Canadian Federation of Students in the coming days to determine how to address their concerns with the city.

The delays come at a time when the associations are pushing for more students to take transit. Students at both universities voted in favour of the universal transit pass (U-Pass) program.

Students will have an annual fee of $260 tacked onto their tuition for the pass, which will allow them to ride transit without paying any fares between September and April.

The pass was approved by city hall in February 2015 and is supposed to be implemented by the fall of 2016.


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