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Transit Woes

This article was submitted by Martin Green, some readers may remember him from the long ago era of community-access cable TV as the host of Math with Marty. This article about his displeasure with the transit system is pretty noteworthy for a couple reasons. First off for any fans of Math with Marty this might seem like a nostalgic trip back to the days where Marty would lecture in front of his chalk board before a country music interlude. Secondly I think any discourse on public/mass transit for Winnipeg is always timely, we’re the city thats grown too big for its bus system and yet might never be big enough to validate a subway/mass transit solution.  So here is an outline of the situation as Marty sees it with an explanation of his solution soon to follow.


I hate standing on a corner waiting 20 minutes for a bus. I used to work in Transcona and get off at 3:00 pm. The 42 downtown would come at 3:23. I didn’t like that. I live in Wolseley and used to get home around five.

I hate standing on Sherbrook street and watching bus after bus rolling past (mostly empty) because the aren’t going my way. The 17, the 20, even the 10….you can wait half an hour for the 29 if you’re trying to get to the Health Science Center. It’s much worse if you want to get to Red River college. You can take the downtown option and then spend countless hours meandering up and down Graham, Fort, Kennedy and whatever before you get back on track. Or you can hold out for the 29 and take your chances. Either way the midday transfer can take up to 20 minutes for the 19 Notre Dame.

I hate visiting my son on Alfred and Powers and taking the bus home. My options are walking one block to Salter and waiting 22 minutes between buses or walking two blocks to McGregor and waiting 24. Actual best bet: walk three blocks to Main Street for a chance at a 12-minute wait.

I hate those stupid alternating loops…now clockwise, now counterclockwise. I come out of the Giant Tiger on Logan and McPhillips with my package of pecan tarts and want to go downtown. Do I stand like an idiot at the corner waiting up to 27 minutes for the 19 or do I make a run for Notre Dame to catch the same bus on its “alternate” loop…possibly missing both in the process? Yes there’s also a 26 Logan Berry downtown which theoretically improves my odds for staying put…but its on a thirty minute cycle, which is impossible to coordinate with the 27-minute cycle of the 19. There are times when you can wait the full 27 minutes for either one, and then have them both show up at the same time. And chances are they’re both empty. Who’s being served by all this???

One time I was in East Kildonan near the Superstore on Raleigh and I wanted to meet my wife at Polo Park. Hey look, 77 Crosstown North…that looks like a good idea. Just cut across the Chief Peguis Trail and circle around Winnipegs “inner loopway”, right? Wrong. The 77 is an unbearable milk run that winds interminably up and down, up and down the Maples. With the obligatory thirty-minute wait the total trip time was one hundred and five minutes.

(And while were at it I despise the bastards who decided that my ass is more comfortable sitting on hard-shell molded plastic than in a vinyl-upholstered bench seat like they always used to have. Thanks a lot, jackass.)

But there is another side to the coin. I’ve actually had one really good bus experience in recent memory. I needed to get to work in Fort Richmond at 8:00 am one day and thought I’d catch the 62 Express. Forget about going downtown and transferring…I’ll just walk to the bus stop. It’s half an hour on foot from my house to Confusion Corner, but it was worth it. The 62’s come ten minutes apart in the rush hour, and it was only another fifteen before I was getting off the bus at Pembina and Markham. That’s the way to travel.

The irony of this 62 experience is that the people who are going to “improve” our system with their so-called rapid transit are spending all that money to fix the only route that actually works! Double up the 62 express so it’s every five minutes, or triple it up if necessary, and you’ve solved the problem of getting to the U of M. You don’t need to spend $200 million dollars.

Could we fix this system so it works? You’re darn right we could and that’s the subject of my next article. The problem is that the game is rigged so that the necessary changes to make things right will never get through the politicians and the bureaucracy. I know, I’ve tried. But more on that when we continue.

Image 70’s couch or transit bus Originally uploaded by sanchom

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