Students say cuts to Transit are bad idea



by Skye Thorleifson

Students traveling to and from university or college might find it harder to catch the bus if cuts to Winnipeg Transit service go through next year.

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman announced the potential cuts last Wednesday, Nov. 15 when the city released the budget plan.

The possible changes included laying off 125 bus drivers, the cancellation of 59 bus routes, and a bus fare hike of 25 cents in addition to the annual five-cent increase.

These changes are to compensate for a $10-million loss following the end of the 50-50 transit funding arrangement between the Progressive Conservative government and the City of Winnipeg.

Rob Altemeyer, Member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba for Wolseley, said that with the PC government pulling their half of the funding, some combination of changes to transit are definitely going to happen.

“It’s going to be brutal,” he said.

According to the Winnipeg Transit website, the company currently uses 623 buses and employs roughly 1,100 bus drivers.

Ally Don, a Digital Media student at Red River College, rides the bus every day to and from school. She said she spends an hour-and-a-half on the bus every day, and that reducing the number of buses on the road would be a bad idea.

“I know downtown and stuff, it’s pretty convenient for buses, but in the further regions like Transcona and wherever else buses don’t come as often, it’s kind of inconvenient,” she said.

Altemeyer said that students have been very clear about their dissatisfaction not just about transit, but other concerns relating to them as well.

This potential transit funding freeze follows in the wake of the PC government passing Bill 31, which allows post-secondary institutions to increase tuition by five percent plus inflation. Several students from different faculties gathered on Oct. 25 to oppose this bill.

Altemeyer, a member of the NDP party, said that he hopes students will continue to be vocal about these issues. “They’re the future and if we’re not listening to the future, I don’t know what the heck it is that we’re doing,” he said.

The first draft of Winnipeg’s budget for 2018 will be presented this Wednesday, Nov. 22.