Category Archives: Winnipeg Transit

23 Sep

Random Thoughts – Old Country Transit, Brian Bowman, Grande Parade and More

1. I was astounded to read that Winnipeg Transit, cash-starved to the point that they’re faced with having to cut back on routes, will be spending a whopping $300,000 on a pilot project to put Wi-Fi on a dozen of their buses. Judging from just a sample of the comments I’ve been seeing on my Twitter feed, I’m not the only one who feels that way.

Obviously, Transit remains as unreliable as ever with schedules acting as little more than rough guidelines, a source of much frustration for me when I lived there. Yet such serious problems along with mounting driver and passenger safety issues get nothing more than lip service from City Hall as they instead plough ahead pouring tons of cash into that silly Rapid Transit and other boutique projects. As Winnipeg Sun columnist Tom Brodbeck once put it, it’s like building a pool in the backyard of a house with a crumbling foundation.

2. No incumbent Winnipeg mayor since Unicity has been defeated at the polls, but as he piles on debt with reckless spending while allowing core services to deteriorate, it sure sounds like Brian Bowman is trying awfully hard to become the first.

3. This morning, I spotted a cyclist headed north on Merritt Street with a helmet strapped to his handlebar. His skull might get cracked open if he gets into an accident, but at least his handlebar will be well protected.

4. I know some people like to gossip, but I never saw anyone proud enough to put it up on a sign before.

5. I’m sure the neighbors appreciated the homeowner on Powerview Avenue who was blasting his radio so loud this morning that I could hear it from a block away.

6. Call me a skeptic, but I get the feeling that these bikes may be a little, shall we say, warm. Not just because of the heat.

7. “Your” not an English major, are you …

8. They don’t seem to get the “pictur” …

9. I spotted this interesting character/”community resident” downtown today. I was particularly intrigued by the plastic bags he was using for shoes and a shirt.

10. “Coorlight.” For the taste of the Rockie.

11. From the St. Catharines Department of Redundancy Department:

12. I know the Grande Parade is a big deal around these parts, but I never realized how big of a deal it was until I saw people laying out towels and chairs more than two hours before the first float. It’s just a parade, folks.

13. An older gentleman on Carlton Street genuflected as I passed by. Have I suddenly become the sign of the devil?

03 May

Classic Bus Story

This morning, I saw a bus pulling out of the Polo Park bus loop. Someone on the sidewalk behind me must have wanted that bus, so he took off in full sprint after it. I got out of his way and watched as he put Jesse Owens to shame while the bus sat and waited at Portage Avenue.

I didn’t think he had much of a chance to catch it, but he completed the 40-yard dash in a time that would make NFL scouts swoon and made it to within spitting distance of the bus.

Then the bus took off.

A knife to the gut that only Winnipeg Transit can deliver.

Been there.

Done that.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Or both.

06 Feb

Another Bus Adventure

When I got on the bus this morning, standing in front of the fare box
Was a young woman with long, brown locks

With so much room, she still chose to block our way
Did she not want us to pay?

I sat down opposite a teenage girl, her smile unnaturally wide and bright
Perhaps there was some white powdery substance travelling up her nostrils last night

Needing directions, an older gentleman asked the driver to be a sleuth
He thought the bus was a mobile tourist information booth

A young punk darting in front of the bus nearly caused the health care system to be billed
Because he came a whisker away from getting killed

I don’t take the bus very often, yet there’s always a story to be told
Each time I use Transit Tom in this bitter cold

11 Jan

A Bus Ride through the Heart of Winnipeg

A bus ride through the city’s toilet
Begins with an evening that a bum would like to forget

He drifts in and out of a conscious state
I don’t want to know what happened last night so late

Someone gets on with a hat from the Witness Protection Program
Does he want to get shot, or is he just being a ham?

A young woman applies her many cosmetics, how much is anyone’s guess
Among this group, who is she trying to impress?

At City Hall, the bus shelter is not just a place to wait
For some it’s a residence with a cheap rate

At the Sutherland Hotel, an ambulance is parked outside
Likely another repeat customer will get a free ride

The Selkirk Avenue clientele fill the bus with an eclectic aroma
The mix of vomit and beer is enough to put anyone into a coma

On the dark street a jogger runs, what the heck?
He’s probably not playing with a full deck

Weirdos abound causing a fuss
And in Winnipeg, they’re all taking the bus

25 Dec

Christmas Day Bus Ride

Twas the day of Christmas and all through the bus
Plenty of creatures were stirring, maybe even a mouse

A rotund woman squeezes through the aisle with a great deal of trouble
After getting on, the bus’s weight surely did double

Under her arm, a large box of chocolates she did bring
It had to be empty, ‘cause it looked like she ate the whole thing

The first of a number of bums staggered onto the bus
After sitting down, he flashed his few remaining teeth to us

He soon caused those around him to scatter
Bathing more than once a month does matter

The next one showed that standing on his feet is truly an art
For someone who smelled like he just held up a liquor mart

A scruffy character with an IQ of about five
Had to have picked up his U of M backpack in a dumpster dive

Two teenage hoodlums showed no shame
As they scoped out their next claim

A woman boarded after her holiday eggnog
Inside her stroller was not a baby, but a dog

She didn’t look to have problems with her vision
Being a guide dog was not Rover’s mission

Another day on the bus that saps holiday cheer
It makes me want to get out of here

12 Feb

Winnipeg Transit Introduces the Eco-Ram

Winnipeg Transit announced that it will begin selling a new, environmentally-friendly battering ram for the convenience of riders who frequently board the so-called “Easy Access” line of buses in Transit’s fleet.

“A constant complaint we hear from our riders is how difficult it is to get out through the back door on our Easy Access buses,” said a Transit spokesman. “We are at last pleased to be able to offer some relief to those riders.”
Filled with 100% recyclable material, the devices, called the Eco-Ram, will be made available for general sale as well as at a discount as part of the employer-sponsored Eco-Pass program.
Winnipeg Transit’s new Eco-Ram

“When riders leave for work in the morning, they’ll just have an extra item to sling over their shoulders. They will be lightweight, yet effective. Our testing has shown that, with a good thrust, it can dislodge as many as three or even four stragglers standing in front of the back door and with another thrust, it can force open even the stickiest door in our fleet,” said the Transit spokesman.

“This just shows how Transit is responding to the needs of their customers. Though we introduced the Easy Access line to accommodate the 0.001% of Transit riders who found our old line troublesome, the remaining 99.999% deserve some attention once in a while. I couldn’t be happier to see the Eco-Ram introduced”, said a spokesman for Mayor Sam Katz. “It’s a tribute to Transit’s ingenuity and another reason why I’m so proud to live in this city.”
Reactions from Transit’s rider community were mixed.
“I think it’s great. I might be able to start using Transit again thanks to the Eco-Ram,” said one former Transit rider. “Since they put in that Easy Access bus, the frustration just hasn’t been worth it. I’d rather be out on my bike in -30º weather.”
“Might have to put some spikes on that thing. Wonder if they’ll start selling stun-guns to go along with it,” said a current Transit rider. “Right now, I have to ring the bell three stops ahead of time and hope that I can get off without having to walk too far back by the time I get through the mob in front of the back door.”
“We admit that it’s not a perfect solution. But when you’re an organization like ours that caters to the need of a few over the need of the many, tradeoffs like this are going to be necessary,” said the Transit spokesman.
The Eco-Rams will be on sale shortly at Transit’s Customer Service Center in Winnipeg Square and plans are in the works for additional distribution sites, such as drug stores and convenience stores.

18 Jan

Winnipeg Rapid Transit: A Look Ahead

April 9, 2012 – Winnipeg Transit launches its long-awaited Rapid Transit service. Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz and Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger lead a host of dignitaries at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Harkness Station near the corner of Main Street and Stradbrook Avenue. “This marks another step forward for Winnipeg as a first-class city,” said Katz. “And the Jets are back,” said Selinger, who leaves the ceremony early to answer a call from True North chairman Mark Chipman asking for another government handout.
April 10 – Two joggers on the Transitway are hit by a Rapid Transit bus. The joggers are attended by paramedics and Winnipeg Transit, on orders from Winnipeg Police Service, shuts down the Rapid Transit service. Despite clear signage and laws prohibiting pedestrian traffic on the Transitway, the joggers are not cited by police, who, instead, turn their attention to the driver and harangue him incessantly. Later in the day, Winnipeg Transit announces it will launch an investigation into the incident and, as a matter of procedure, pull the driver off the road and assign him to a desk job pending the outcome of the investigation.
April 15 – After an examination of the scene, Winnipeg Police grants permission to Winnipeg Transit to resume Rapid Transit service.
April 21 – Following Winnipeg Transit’s decision to allow the driver to resume his regular duties, from their hospital bed, the injured joggers hold a press conference. “We have rights!” they exclaim to a large media gathering also attended by Manitoba Justice Minister Andrew Swan, who announces that his office is considering laying charges against the driver.
May 5 – Two northbound cyclists in the Transitway are struck by a southbound Rapid Transit bus. After the cyclists are taken to hospital, Winnipeg Police tapes off the scene and Rapid Transit is shut down until further notice.
May 6 – The front-page headline in the Winnipeg Free Press reads, “Open Season” and features a color picture of the mangled bicycles covered in the blood of their riders. The newly-formed Winnipeg Coalition for Social Justice demands that Winnipeg Transit adopt a more compassionate approach to its Rapid Transit service and that a public inquiry be held into the “reckless actions of its operators.” “Rapid Transit has become a scourge on our community,” says a spokesman for the group.
May 13 – Winnipeg Police removes their yellow tape from the scene and grants permission to Winnipeg Transit to resume its Rapid Transit service.
May 31 – Winnipeg Transit announces an extension of its Request Stop program in response to complaints from riders who have to walk farther to their nearest Rapid Transit stop than they do for their regular bus service. A spokesman for Transit says that its operators will be instructed to make additional stops along the Transitway when requested. “I asked to get off one block after my stop and the driver refused,” said a young mother pushing a baby stroller. “I don’t know what they didn’t build more stops in the first place.”
June 5 – One month after the incident with the cyclists, a homeless man sleeping on the Transitway is struck by a Rapid Transit bus in the early morning and nearly killed. Winnipeg Transit immediately suspends Rapid Transit service.
June 8 – The Winnipeg Coalition for Social Justice holds a rally at the steps of the Manitoba Legislature demanding changes to Winnipeg Transit’s “inhumane” Rapid Transit service. The rally, attended by more than 1,000 people, gets national media attention. “Winnipeg Transit is out for blood!” screams one supporter.
June 30 – Winnipeg Transit resumes its Rapid Transit service but instructs its operators in the dedicated Transitway to drive slowly and stop and wait for joggers and cyclists. A spokesman for Winnipeg Police Service says that “of course, we will not enforce the sections of the Highway Traffic Act prohibiting joggers on roadways.”
September 1 – Winnipeg Transit reports a sharp decline in ridership for its new Rapid Transit service. “I can get out and walk faster,” says one disgruntled former rider.
September 15 – The jogger hit by a Rapid Transit bus in April is granted an audience with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The jogger, called a “victim of brutality” by the Winnipeg Coalition for Social Justice, pleads for changes to Canada’s Criminal Code to ensure that “reckless bus drivers” are taken off the road and incarcerated.
December 15 – Winnipeg Transit discontinues its Rapid Transit service, citing a lack of ridership. “It is no longer economically feasible,” said a spokesman for Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz. “There are clearly other priorities for this city. We must address the problem of homelessness first,” said councillor Harvey Smith.
December 16 – In a hotly-debated session of City Council, a motion tabled by councillor Harvey Smith and seconded by councillor Jenny Gerbasi is narrowly passed that calls for an undisclosed compensation package to be paid to the joggers, cyclists, and the homeless man hit in the dedicated Transitway. In a separate motion, City Council also passes a motion to cover the expenses of the Winnipeg Coalition for Social Justice, including the cost of bus tickets for their members to attend the council meeting.
May 1, 2013 – Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz and Manitoba Minister of Healthy Living Jim Rondeau are present at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the official opening of the Southwest Winnipeg Trailway that follows the path of the abandoned Transitway. Both Katz and Rondeau join a gathering of joggers as they run down the pathway.