Transit Master Plan Phase Two underway

By Cody Sellar

The 26 bus pulls past the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute. /CODY SELLAR

Winnipeg Transit proposed a redesigned network after a quarter of responses in a recent public engagement campaign expressed dissatisfaction with bus efficiency, frequency or both. 

The new design relies on a Primary Network divided into rapid, frequent and direct lines running every five to 20 minutes with feeder routes extending into low traffic neighbourhoods. 

Rapid lines along Portage Avenue and Main Street will serve the Exchange District Campus while more intermittent frequent lines will cover the Notre Dame Campus, according to maps provided by Winnipeg Transit. 

Derek Koop, president of non-profit advocacy group Functional Transit Winnipeg (FTW), said in an email the changes are substantial, and his organization is excited about the proposal. 

Derek Koop and Carly McNeill advocate for frequent transit. /SUPPLIED

FTW’s main concern is the upcoming transit budget only adjusts for inflation and doesn’t allow for the profound changes outlined in the Transit Master Plan, he said. 

The province reports an inflation rate 0.5 per cent higher than the budget increase. 

The project is expected to cost $2.6 million dollars split equally between the City of Winnipeg and the federal government, who stepped in to help fund Winnipeg Transit after the province eliminated a long-standing 50-50 cost sharing agreement in 2017. 

In a recent media release, Functional Transit Winnipeg said low frequency feeder networks could lead to long wait times if connections are missed, and we must remember the purpose of transit goes beyond commuting. 

“Frequent service is about making transit-oriented lifestyles possible. It’s not just about commuting to work, it’s about getting to grocery stores, daycares, hairdressers and all the places Winnipeggers travel to regularly,” said Koop. 

Daily bus user and Red River College student John Mihychuk said the plans are overdue for the city. 

Red River College student John Mihychuk waits for his bus. He takes the bus daily and says the proposed transit changes are overdue. /CODY SELLAR

“Consistency would be nice… We have an overabundance of buses on routes that don’t get a lot of traffic, and we have an under amount of bus drivers on routes that have heavy traffic, so there needs to be a rebalancing,” said the 36-year-old Electrical Engineering Technology student. 

The proposal contained little information on Winnipeg Transit Plus (Handi-Transit). 

A Manitoba Ombudsman report recommended 19 changes to the service earlier this year. 

Winnipeg Transit is asking for public feedback to the proposed network. 

A new draft considering the results of their survey is slated to be released this winter with a final draft submitted to City Council in spring.