City committee approves route for second phase of rapid transit line
The second phase of Winnipeg’s bus rapid transit line will likely dog leg off Pembina Highway.
The city’s public works committee voted for the route on Feb. 26 after a recommendation from Winnipeg Transit.
The line chosen will stretch from Jubilee Avenue through the Parker neighbourhood and then to Pembina Highway, ending at the University of Manitoba.
Transit says the route is cheaper, faster and less land would have to be expropriated.
"Although it has a higher construction cost, the actual expected cost of land acquisition is considerably lower," said Dave Wardrop from Winnipeg Transit.
"This is the cheapest option and, believe it or not, this is the option with the least impact on neighbours," said Coun. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface).
But several people, including some councillors, oppose the route and want it to go straight down Pembina Highway.
"I'm not sure it's the best option...financially, ridership-wise, development-wise, traffic-wise," said Coun. John Orlikow (River Heights - Fort Garry).
Parker resident Cal Dueck said he's not happy with the plan to route the rapid transit line through his neighbourhood.
"If they bring any (rapid transit) line through here, they will destroy numerous trees - a big part of this forest is an old forest," said Dueck.
The proposed rapid transit line still needs to go before council as a whole for a vote.
The city has earmarked $138 million for the project, but still needs funding contributions from the federal and provincial governments.
City officials hope to have the bus corridor to the University of Manitoba in place by 2018.
The city is also considering subsidizing U-Pass transit passes for all university students.
The plan to build bus passes into every university student’s tuition would cost millions, but it would increase ridership. A report says a universal bus pass for Winnipeg university students would cost the city $3.6 million a year.
As well, eight new buses would be required for a one-time expense of another $3.6 million.
The passes would cover the school year and cost students up to $85 at the University of Manitoba and $100 at the University of Winnipeg, paid along with their tuition payments.
Other Canadian universities have seen a 50 per cent increase in ridership among post-secondary students with similar programs.
A Winnipeg city councillor also wants expanded Transit services on Sundays to accommodate the province's new Sunday shopping hours.
Coun. Devi Sharma (Old Kildonan) said the Sunday bus schedule remained the same after the province expanded Sunday shopping last fall.
Because of that, she said a number of people have told her they are unable to get to the mall for when it opens.
- with a report from Jeff Keele