‘That’s our goal - to deliver a transit experience that Winnipeg will prefer to driving.’ Robert-Falcon Ouellette.
As Mayor we will work with council, Winnipeg Transit and the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) to bring in a package of measures designed to make riding Winnipeg Transit safe, clean, convenient, and affordable – including strengthened security for buses, more buses on high demand routes, and ‘a-buck-a-ride’ fare.
For Winnipeg to work and to build the city we all want, we need a transit system that works. It has to get people from stop to stop safely, with the minimum cost and effort to them,
That’s our goal - to deliver a transit experience that Winnipeg will prefer to driving.
And getting people out of their cars is one of the best ways to reduce emissions and our carbon footprint, to make Winnipeg a Green City.
MAKING BUSES SAFE
Our first priority is assuring the safety of everyone – passengers & drivers - and that means starting with security measures for buses.
- Introducing a ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy for disruptive, violent and dangerous behaviour, including banning persistent problem passengers
- Establishing a Transit Security Program that would 1) properly train and certify willing Transit Supervisors as peace officers who could respond to and deescalate emergency situations and 2) would, in the short term, hire well trained security personnel to ride buses on routes with high rates of incidences
- Equipping buses with full protective shielding for transit operators and a quick response emergency button tied to Transit Security and Winnipeg Police Service.
We need to use the right tools for transit safety, and dedicated security will improve the transit experience and is a better solution than putting police on buses or relying on volunteer community organizations.
MAKING TRANSIT CONVENIENT
Over the last 40 years Transit ridership has dropped from 60-million annual riders to an estimated 34 million riders in 2022, while Winnipeg’s population has grown from 591,000 to 823,000 and Transit has added routes & buses. (1) (2) (3) An estimated 14 million of this ridership drop is the result of the pandemic, but It is unclear if the slow return of riders is a result of a ‘work from home’ change, riders not coming back to transit for other reasons, or both.
To encourage and grow ridership, we will work with Transit on a number of initiatives.
- Build out capacity on routes based on ridership demand, focusing on creating a ‘metro bus’ model of service like Quebec City, which relies on frequent, dependable service, so that if people miss one bus, they don’t have to wait long for the next
- Bring back the no-fare Downtown Spirit routes, that those who live downtown — and in particular seniors — rely upon it the most (4)
- Introduce new and better payment options, including “tap payments” so that people can pay their bus fare through debit, credit card or phone options
MAKING TRANSIT AFFORDABLE
Under the campaigns ‘Child Friendly Winnipeg’ transit policy, riders 17 and under would ride free on transit, saving families money and encouraging the next generation of riders to use transit. (5)
In addition to this policy, we will simplify the fare system and introduce ‘a-buck-a ride’ fare which would provide substantial savings for families, seniors, students and workers who rely on the bus and would encourage others to jump back on the bus or try it for the first time.
While detailed Transit numbers are hard to come by we estimate a decrease in revenue of 20% or $12-million from the fare change but would expect this decrease to be made up by an increase in ridership at the new buck-a-ride fare. (6)
Ouellette noted that monthly bus passes would be capped at $53 to keep in line with existing WINNpass and senior fares. (7)
Transit Master Plan (8)
We are committed to the Transit Master Plan but will not put the financial well-being of the city at jeopardy just to speed it up, something proposed by another candidate.
We can’t bankrupt the city just to speed up the Transit Master Plan. Increase ridership is key to the success of Transit and getting Winnipeggers on the bus should be our priority now.
As well, we will include the impact on the Transit Master Plan in the study looking at moving heavy rail traffic outside of the city, and whether there would be any potential enhancements or cost savings in using existing rail right-of-ways. (9)
Electrification of Bus Fleet
Recently, the City along with the Provincial and Federal governments came together providing funding to purchase 100 Electric buses for Winnipeg Transit. (1)
This is a good step forward and full electrification of the bus fleet is something we are committed to over the long term.
Our short-term priority will be getting people out of their cars and back riding the bus or trying it for the first time. This will have the greatest impact on our carbon footprint.
If we want more people to start taking the bus, we have to stop making it so hard to catch a bus or even to pay for a fare once we’re on board. We want to provide Winnipeggers with a bus system where you don’t have to worry about your safety, where you can get on board and pay easily, and where if you missed your bus, you’ll still be able to get where you need to go because there’s another one coming. If that seems like a radical proposal, it’s only because the system we have right now is so far behind.