Riders and transit union praise increase in bus schedule.
(CTV News file image of a Winnipeg Transit bus.)
WINNIPEG -- As of the long weekend, your bus may be driving by more often.
The City of Winnipeg announced that effective August 2, Winnipeg Transit will be returning to a regular summer schedule, with full weekday service set to start after the long weekend.
The change is good news for riders who have been feeling the squeeze on crowded buses.
Riders like Wanda Jones, use Winnipeg Transit every day to get to work and to run errands.
She said with COVID-19 restrictions beginning to loosen, more people have been riding the bus with her.
"They've gotten busier, not as busy as normal, like prior to March, but they have gotten busier, seats are all being taken." Said Jones.
The city is also recommending the use of non-medical face masks while riding the bus or transit plus.
Jones said if there are more than five people on her bus, she wears one.
"I'm hoping the recommendation [to wear a mask] will be enough, and people will take it into consideration when the buses start getting fuller." Said Jones.
Romeo Ignatio, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union (AUT) Local 1505, encourages riders to wear masks while riding transit to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Transit operators and inspectors will not be enforcing their use.
Ignatio said the union is pleased that the city made the recommendation.
"To us, it's a step in the right direction because you have to start somewhere," he said.
The City of Winnipeg is recommending passengers maintain a reasonable distance from others on the bus whenever possible, and that passengers don't judge others who may not be wearing a mask, as there are a number of reasons some people may not be able to wear one.
Ignacio said Winnipeg Transit had to lay off 253 operators when COVID-19 first hit.
One hundred were called back in June, and the remaining operators were brought back for the return to regular service.
He said ATU is happy with the decision and believes this move will reduce overcrowding on buses.
"We're glad they're listening and that they're working with us to provide that service," said Ignacio. "Our members are happy to go back to work."
Jones said she takes an express bus to get to work, but with the reduced transit schedule, all express buses were converted to regular routes.
She's hoping to shave some time off her commute now that the schedule is back to normal.
"It's going to be great. It'll be nice to have them onto their regular schedules," said Jones.