Winnipeg Transit

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Winnipeg Transit
Winnipeg Transit Flying-T.png
Winnipeg Transit 865.jpg
A Winnipeg bus still in the older transit orange and cream paint scheme
Founded 1882
Headquarters 421 Osborne Street
Service area Winnipeg, Manitoba
Service type Public Transit
Routes 94 routes
Stops 6,000 stops
Fleet 589 buses
Daily ridership 120,000+[1]
Operator City of Winnipeg
Website Official Website
Inside a Winnipeg Bus

Winnipeg Transit is the public transit agency in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. It is a bus-only operator.

The Winnipeg Street Railway operated a horse car operation from 1882 to 1894. It was rendered obsolete and acquired by the Winnipeg Electric Street Railway (1892, later Winnipeg Electric Railway and Winnipeg Electric Co.), which ran electric streetcars, regular buses from 1918, and electric trolley buses from 1938. The system was purchased by the City of Winnipeg in 1953 and was renamed the Greater Winnipeg Transit Commission. The Commission oversaw the end of streetcar services in 1955 and trolleybus services in 1970. The Commission was merged into the Metropolitan Corporation of Greater Winnipeg from 1961 until 1972 when the amalgamated City of Winnipeg absorbed both entities under the current name of Winnipeg Transit.

History[edit]

1882-1899[edit]

Public transit in Winnipeg began in 1882 with the horse-drawn Winnipeg Street Railway Company (WSR) under the direction of Toronto businessman Albert William Austin. The WSR experimented with electric cars in 1891, but the city gave the electric rights in 1892 to the competing Winnipeg Electric Street Railway Company (WESR), headed by William Mackenzie and James Ross of Montreal. The width of Winnipeg's main streets allowed both companies to operate simultaneously. Austin's company lost 68 horses to a disastrous fire in 1893. He tried to fight for exclusive street railway rights in court, all the way to the Privy Council in London, but after losing his case, he sold almost all of its assets to the WESR for $175,000 in 1894.

Horse car operations ended the next day, except for the Kennedy Street line, which city council required to operate for another six weeks. Austin kept the Elm Park horse-car line to operate as a private venture; his company had opened the park in the 1890s to drum up business on the line during off-peak times.[2] With the ending of a price war between the two companies, fares doubled, from 50 up to 25 tickets for a dollar, or 5¢ cash.

The WESR continued to expand its lines, its inventory of rolling stock, and its car barns. It bought the Manitoba Electric & Gas Light Company for $400,000 in 1898, changed line voltage from 250 to the standard 550 volts in 1899.

1900-1924[edit]

Winnipeg interurban lines
Lines c. 1930
 
Selkirk
Stonewall
Stony Mountain
Master Junction
Middle Church
Winnipeg
Charleswood
St. Charles
Headingley
University of Manitoba
St. Hubert
City
Interurban
trackage

The Winnipeg General Power Company was incorporated by officers of the WESR in 1902, and amalgamated with railway company in 1904. The combined company adopted a new name, the Winnipeg Electric Railway Company (WER), and now controlled all street railway, electric power, and gas utilities in the city.

The Suburban Rapid Transit Company (SRT, 1902), operated west of Winnipeg along Portage Avenue, inaugurating a line as far as Charleswood in 1903. It initially leased cars and bought power from the WESR. It was bought up by the amalgamated WER in 1905, which finished expansion of its line to the village of Headingley by the end of the year.

The Winnipeg, Selkirk & Lake Winnipeg Railway, an interurban electric transit company incorporated in 1900, operated cars from the WESR's Main Street terminal to the town of Selkirk, with a later spur line from West St Paul to Stonewall. Its stock was bought by the WESR in 1906, although it continued to operate as an independent company (to be spun off much later as Beaver Bus Lines).

Also in 1906, a hydroelectric plant was completed in Pinawa, and streetcars started operating on Sundays, following a plebiscite.

The company did well during the economic boom of the early 1900s, and built a new headquarters in the eleven-storey Electric Railway Chambers building at Notre Dame Avenue and Albert Street in 1911–13. In 1914, the Public Utilities Commission ordered the WER to start collecting fares on a pay-as-you-enter system (PAYE), which required some rebuilding of cars.

From 1914 to 1915, the WER would start to experience competition from jitneys, privately owned taxi cabs. The financial pressures of this competition, tensions with the Public Utilities Commission about route planning, complaints regarding the poor state of rolling stock all led to a crisis in 1918. Negotiations with the city led to a repealing of the jitney bylaw, some route changes, a program of rebuilding old trolley cars, and the first appearance of motor buses in Winnipeg. The company was also affected by the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919, a terrible explosion and fire at the Main Street car barn, after which some rolling stock was bought from the Twin City Rapid Transit Company of Minneapolis (most of the WER's stock been built by the company in Winnipeg, or by the Ottawa Car Company).

In 1921 it also bought some Birney Safety Cars from Preston Car & Coach, which would start service in 1923 after delays caused by controversy over the safety of the one-man cars. Increasing competition with the automobile and the post-war economic slump led to the company rebuilding the rest of its own fleet as one-man cars.

On March 13, 1924, the Manitoba Legislature passed a bill changing the company's name to the Winnipeg Electric Company.

1924–1953[edit]

Winnipeg Electric Company (WECo.)

In January 1940, William Carter was named the new President of Winnipeg Electric Company.[3]

During the summer of 1948, a Public Utility Board inquiry took place questioning the depreciation costs claimed by WECo. and its predecessors on streetcar equipment. This led to a difference of $495,000, part of which WECo. overclaimed $363,504, overestimated $30,000 for snow removal costs, and didn't include a $99,000 "saving" on conversion to trolleybuses.[4]

The River Ave. bus route was extended and its name changed to Crescent in October 1949 after a six-month battle over the routing.[5]

1953–1960[edit]

Greater Winnipeg Transit Commission (GWTC)

A referendum was conducted in March 1953, where only the electorate in the city proper were eligible to vote. It created the Greater Winnipeg Transit Commission because the Winnipeg Electric Company did not want to operate the transit system any longer.[6]

Express bus service was introduced on the Portage route starting November 4, 1957. A 5-cent premium fare was charged to passengers.[7]

In response to an expressway plan published in 1957 that was sponsored by the Downtown Winnipeg Association, a city councillor sponsored the hiring of Norman D. Wilson to design a subway plan for the greater Winnipeg area. This plan was published on April 11, 1959[8] as the Future Development of the Greater Winnipeg Transit System.

1960–1971[edit]

Metro Winnipeg Transit

In October 1962 a report on transit was released which recommended scrapping the idea of a 'downtown bus terminal' for Winnipeg Transit. It also recommended a price reduction of 50 cents for monthly passes.[9]

As part of the new Metro administration, a metropolitan development plan, which took several years to complete, was begun in 1962.[10] The transportation component, the Winnipeg Area Transportation Study, whose recommendations were published in January 1969, called for five freeways, a suburban beltway, and a 5.4-mile underground subway.

Bus fares were raised from 15 cents to 25 cents in April 1969.[11]

In 1969 the main transit garage was moved from Assiniboine Avenue to a new location on Osborne St.[12]

During the 1960s Metro Winnipeg Transit was phasing out the trolleybus fleet. At one point Winnipeg City Council begged Metro to stop this phase out, but it continued nonetheless.[13]

In August 1970 several River Heights residents opposed a jointly managed Unibus shuttle service for University of Manitoba students. Riding Unibus would save students from paying the regular adult fare, instead they would pay $20 for six months' use. However, residents were upset that the routes would depreciate housing where the buses traversed and that the service was only available to University students.[14]

1972–current[edit]

Winnipeg Transit
a white Winnipeg Transit bus in service.
Winnipeg transit in new white livery

In the late 1970s Winnipeg Transit paid an outside design firm to create a new logo for the transit department, although it wasn't until two or three years later when bus stops begun to feature the new design.

In April 1982 the Works and Operations Committee awarded Mediacom, Inc. a contract to build and maintain 200 transit shelters with advertising for a period of 15 years.[15]

During the week of September 23, 1982, Winnipeg Transit tested a GM-built articulated bus on the Portage and Pembina routes. The bus, numbered 900, was constructed from parts of a GM New Look with a Classic front end. It was destined to operate as part of the Mississauga Transit fleet.[16]

When Edmonton and Calgary completed the first phase of their light rail (LRT) systems in the early 1980s, they found that they needed fewer diesel buses. They sold some of them to Winnipeg Transit, which in turn bought 10 double-rear-door Flyer models from Edmonton (380 series), and another 10 GM New Look buses from Calgary (290 series).

During the summer of 1985 all bus stops in Winnipeg were replaced with new ones bearing a telephone number that started with 235-. When a transit passenger called this number he/she would hear a computerized female voice give the current time, and the transit routes and times those routes passed through that particular stop. Telebus, which is based on software by Teleride Corporation, was officially launched in February 1986. Costs were shared 50-50 between the Province and City to pay the $1.3 million to set up the original system.[17] However, in 1987 all bus stop decals were replaced with the 287- telephone exchange.

After Calgary Transit's C-Train LRT expanded into the Northeast in April 1985, 30 more New Flyer buses (600-630 series) were sold to Winnipeg and put into service in 1986.

Graham Avenue Transit Mall in 2012

After several years delay, the Graham Avenue Transit Mall was completed over a two-year period 1994-95 at a cost of $5.7 million.[18]

The Winnipeg Free Press conducted a downtown idea contest in 1994, which Jeff Lowe won with an idea for a rail-based streetcar to serve the downtown Winnipeg area.[19] Subsequently this idea was added to the CentrePlan report, the CentrePlan formed a "downtown connector" committee, of which a representative from Winnipeg Transit participated. In 1999 the Downtown BIZ had put forward a request for a feasibility study on a streetcar connector for downtown. However this did not happen until 2002. The subsequent report, which was never released, was very soft on recommending any form of connector service.

Recent Developments[edit]

There have been changes to Winnipeg Transit since the completion of the Graham Avenue Transit Mall in 1995. In the early 21st century, the three levels of government made a deal to fund the development of three infrastructure projects: Kenaston Underpass, Phase I of the Southwest Transit Corridor, and funding for expansion of the Floodway. The Kenaston Underpass was completed in the fall of 2006, and the Floodway expansion project and Southwest Transit Corridor are underway.

It was announced in early 2007 that if 25 centimetres or more of snow were to fall, only seven mainline transit routes would operate.[20] Since then, Winnipeg Transit has devised a more detailed winter snow plan that has three phases.[21] In the first phase, the "Blue Snow Plan", most suburban and short-trip routes (including DART service) would not operate, and most other routes would operate on shortened or simplified routes. In the second phase, the "Red Snow Plan", transit service would be reduced to thirteen routes running along major arterial roads and serving downtown, major hospitals, and the airport. In the third phase, transit would cease to operate completely. Winnipeg Transit has not had to implement the snow plan as of September 2009.

On November 16, 2007, the federal, provincial, and municipal governments announced the Transit Improvement Program, in which it includes upgrades and improvements to existing infrastructure for buses, such as transit priority signals, transit-only lanes, and new bus shelters. In addition to an order of 33 new regular 40-foot low-floor buses, Winnipeg Transit also ordered 20 new 60-foot articulated Diesel-Electric Hybrid buses; the first bus was delivered by the end of 2007.[22] The test of the first articulated bus was not successful, and that part of the order was cancelled.[23]

In 2008, Winnipeg Transit added the "Next stop" program. "Next stop" announces the next bus stop in a computerized female voice, and shows the street name on a small display on the roof in the front of the bus. It also shows whether a stop has been requested by a passenger. The program was preceded by a phase where transit operators called out stops, which led to debate over whether this would distract drivers from the road.[24]

As of 2009, Telebus operates through one telephone number - 287-7433 or BUS-RIDE. Users can access information about buses stopping at a specific bus stop by entering the five-digit code located on the sign for that stop. The first number of the stop designates the municipal area the stop is located in (1 for the old City of Winnipeg, 5 for St. Boniface and St. Vital, etc.).

Rapid Transit[edit]

Main article: Winnipeg RT

On April 8, 2012, service on Phase one of Winnipeg's Bus Rapid Transit line; the Southwest Transitway begun. All RT routes terminate at the Balmoral Station in Downtown Winnipeg next to the University of Winnipeg. RT routes then run along the Graham Avenue Transit Mall to Main Street, then south down Queen Elizabeth Way to Stradbrook Avenue where buses enter the 3.6 km Southwest Transitway and travel southwest. There are three stations on the Southwest Transitway; Harkness Station, Osborne Station, and Fort Rouge Station. Buses enter/exit the Southwest Transitway either just past Osborne Station or the Jubilee Overpass and continue to their final destinations in South Winnipeg, the University of Manitoba or Inverstors Group Field. The Cost of Phase one was 138 million dollars.[25]

Phase two will see the Southwest Transitway extended south from the Jubilee Overpass to Bison Drive just west of the University of Manitoba. The cost for the second phase is around 275 million dollars and the project will start once funding is secured. Winnipeg Transit also is looking at other corridors for the city including the East Corridor to Transcona, as well as a proposed West Corridor, along Portage Avenue to Polo Park, with a spur line to the airport. [26]

Operations[edit]

Bus stop at the University of Manitoba, showing typical signage.

Winnipeg Transit has a staff of 1,366, of which 950 are bus operators.

There are about 6,000 bus stops across Greater Winnipeg area, 800 bus shelters and 1,500 transit benches.

To facilitate use of the system, Winnipeg Transit's web site provides a service called Navigo[27] which allows users to specify a starting location and destination (either by address, Winnipeg landmark, or intersection) and the desired time of arrival or departure (specified as "before" or "after"). It then produces all the available bus routes that meet the criteria, estimating how much time is spent walking to bus stops and waiting for buses, as well as how many transfers are required to arrive at the destination.

Current Fleet[edit]

Winnipeg Transit has 589 buses. 565 are low-floor easy access buses. The following fleet roster is as of July 2014[citation needed]

Facilities[edit]

  • Winnipeg Transit Base & Fort Rouge Garage (1969)
  • North Main Garage (Main St. @ Carruthers)

Former[edit]

Streetcar barn at Main and Assiniboine - now Bonneycastle Park

St. James Garage, Route 90, now a U-Haul location.

Routes[edit]

A "Downtown Spirit" bus

As of April 2012, Winnipeg Transit operates 94 routes. Of these, 29 are labelled either as express routes or park-and-ride, 13 are RT (Rapid Transit) routes running on the Southwest Transitway, 28 are regular routes connecting the city centre with the suburbs, 20 are suburban routes, 5 are crosstown routes, 4 are Downtown Spirit/Osborne Village Connector routes, and 4 are dial-a-ride transit (DART) routes.

Most routes serving downtown have an official route name as well as number, and are usually named based upon their main streets they travel on. (The exceptions are the Routes 53 and 56, which connect downtown with the northern section of St. Boniface). Some routes travel in two directions from downtown, each direction carrying the same number but different signage. Some routes' ultimate destinations also vary from trip to trip, and carry secondary signage to designate the specific sub-route. For instance, the route 16 Osborne (southbound) may have one of five different ultimate destinations depending on the time of day, day of the week, and intended route: two of these destinations (St. Vital Centre and Kingston Row) are in St. Vital, two (Southdale Centre and Island Lakes) are in St. Boniface, and one (Plaza Drive) is in Fort Garry.

Rapid Transit routes are numbered in the 100 series, with the exception of routes 64, 65, and 66, which do not operate on the entire busway. Most routes operate to Downtown at the Balmoral Station, while some operate to a terminal at York and Memorial or Osborne Village. Some RT routes are express routes after they exit the Southwest Transitway when travelling outbound, while others operate as regular routes.

Most express routes also have official route names and connect downtown with either the suburbs or the industrial areas. Suburban express routes normally operate inbound in the morning and outbound in the afternoon, weekdays only, while routes connecting downtown with industrial areas operate as required.

Suburban routes do not enter the downtown core. They are scheduled according to customer demand; some only run during rush hour, while some run whenever transit is operating.

The three "Downtown Spirit" routes use smaller accessible buses and serve the city centre. Two connect Main Street, Broadway, the Exchange District, and The Forks, one running clockwise, the other counter-clockwise; the other connects the University of Winnipeg with the Graham Transit Mall and City Hall.

Many routes that do not have official names still may display signage. Route 53 has no official name but buses on the route use the signage "Norwood".

The DART routes serve communities in south Winnipeg. Three DART routes replace regular transit service to neighbourhoods (Riel/Plaza Drive, St. Norbert, and Southdale/Island Lakes) during times when demand for transit service is insufficient to justify running a regular bus route, while one DART route provides daytime service to residents of the northern section of St. Boniface.

Winnipeg Transit operates accessible buses on most routes. Non-accessible, high floor buses are commonly used only during peak hours.

Major Bus Terminals[edit]

Rapid Transit Stations

  • Balmoral Station
  • Harkness Station
  • Osborne Station
  • Fort Rouge Station

Fares[edit]

Effective January 1, 2014[28]

Fare Cash Ticket Monthly Pass Superpass (Mon-Sun) Max 5 (Mon-Fri)
Full $2.55 $2.20 $84.70 $22.00 $19.80
Reduced* $2.05 $1.53 $58.90 $15.30 --
Senior† $2.05 $1.10 $42.35 $11.00 --
Handi-Transit $2.55 $2.20 $84.70 -- --
Post-Secondary† -- -- $67.75 -- --
  • Reduced Fare applies to Youths 6-16, High School Students 17-21 (with GoCard)

†Senior Fare requires Federal Government Blue Card or Transit issued Photo ID

†Post-Secondary Fare requires valid student ID

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~wyatt/alltime/winnipeg-mb.html
  2. ^ "Elm Park information". Closed Canadian Parks. Coaster Enthusiasts of Canada. Retrieved 2008-07-31. 
  3. ^ "William H. Carter New President Of Winnipeg Electric". The Winnipeg Tribune. June 25, 1940. 
  4. ^ "Tram Firm Charged With $495,000 Error". The Winnipeg Tribune. August 23, 1948. 
  5. ^ "Bus to Run on Grosvenor, Ending Six-Month Battle". The Winnipeg Tribune. October 4, 1949. p. 1. 
  6. ^ "EDITORIAL: Transit Referendum". The Winnipeg Tribune. March 26, 1953. p. 6. 
  7. ^ "Non-stop Bus Service Next Week on Portage". The Winnipeg Tribune. November 1, 1957. 
  8. ^ "Cost Estimated At $449 Million". The Winnipeg Tribune. April 11, 1959. p. 1. 
  9. ^ "Bus fares won't be increased: Transit report hints of failure". The Winnipeg Tribune. October 3, 1962. p. 15. 
  10. ^ O'Malley, Martin (December 11, 1963). "Keep public transit wheels moving is the aim of WATS". The Winnipeg Tribune. 
  11. ^ "Bus fare boosted to 25¢?". The Winnipeg Tribune. January 24, 1969. p. 1. 
  12. ^ "Bigger and better bus base". The Winnipeg Tribune. July 7, 1966. p. 8. 
  13. ^ "'Keep trolleys': City". The Winnipeg Tribune. December 2, 1969. 
  14. ^ "River Heights group fights Unibus plans". The Winnipeg Tribune. August 5, 1970. p. 29. 
  15. ^ Pona, Steve (April 14, 1982). "U.S. firm claims shelter tender cost city better deal". Winnipeg Free Press. p. 3. 
  16. ^ Olsen, Glenn (September 23, 1982). "Stretching it". Winnipeg Free Press. p. 4. 
  17. ^ Rollason, Kevin (January 25, 1986). "Winnipeg Warms to Telebus". The Winnipeg Sun. 
  18. ^ Robertson, Bud (May 3, 1994). "Transit corridor coming to life". Winnipeg Free Press. p. B1. 
  19. ^ Flood, Gerald (June 27, 1994). "A desire named streetcar: Proposal to bring back trolleys draws applause from experts". Winnipeg Free Press. p. B1. 
  20. ^ King, Tamara (February 4, 2007). "Too snowy for Transit?". The Winnipeg Sun. p. A6. 
  21. ^ Winnipeg Transit Snowplan. Accessed September 28, 2009.
  22. ^ "Transit Improvement Program: News Release". Winnipeg Transit. November 16, 2007. 
  23. ^ "Hybrid bendy-bus rolls out". The Winnipeg Sun. December 15, 2007. 
  24. ^ "Calling out Winnipeg bus stops spurs debate". CBC News, December 31, 2007. Accessed September 29, 2009.
  25. ^ http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/Rapid-Transit-read-to-roll-146259275.html
  26. ^ http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/City-plan-calls-for-four-rapid-transit-corridors-by-2031-132796233.html
  27. ^ Navigo Trip Planner
  28. ^ Transit Fare Page

Sources[edit]

  • Baker, John E. (1982). Winnipeg's Electric Transit: The Story of Winnipeg's Streetcars and Trolley Busses. West Hill, Ontario: Railfare. ISBN 0-919130-31-3.

External links[edit]