News / Winnipeg

Winnipeg Transit to buy 12 new buses for completed Southwest Transitway

The department has budgeted spending $9.8 million for the new buses in 2019.

A bus at Harkness Station in Winnipeg seen in this file photo. Winnipeg Transit plans to put 12 new buses on the road once construction on the Southwest Transitway is complete.

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A bus at Harkness Station in Winnipeg seen in this file photo. Winnipeg Transit plans to put 12 new buses on the road once construction on the Southwest Transitway is complete.

Winnipeg Transit plans to put 12 new buses on the road once construction on the Southwest Transitway is complete. 

“With the new corridor, we’re expecting an increase in demand with the improved service,” said Tanis Yanchishyn, a department finance manager, on Wednesday.

The city has already set aside $9.8 million for the purchase, according to the 2017 six-year capital budget.

Yanchishyn said the plan is to buy the buses in 2019, which coincides with the completion date for the second leg of the rapid transit line, a $467-million extension from Jubilee Avenue to the University of Manitoba.

She anticipates the buses will run in 2020.

“In order to do any service enhancements, we always have to have the buses in place first, so it just enables us to respond to an increase in demand.”

Last year, city officials learned the price of building the second phase of the transit corridor had dropped by $120 million due to savings found through a public-private contract with Plenary Roads Winnipeg. 

Yanchishyn couldn’t say exactly how much of a ridership uptick the department is expecting once the buses are fully running.  

Joseph Kornelsen, a spokesperson for citizen transit lobbyist group Functional Transit Winnipeg, believes that regardless of corridor expansion, the new U-Pass at the University of Manitoba will guarantee more riders.

Besides, he said, increasing service frequency is always a good thing.

 “If you’re a transit rider, you know intuitively why that’s the case,” Kornelsen explained.

 “It means you wait at bus stops shorter, it means transfers are easier to make, it means that there’s a bus coming when you want it."

Coun. Jeff Browaty – who is usually a vocal opponent of bus rapid transit – fully supports the city spending millions to buy new buses.

Even if the demand for transitway routes are less than the department expects, the buses can be used elsewhere in the city, he explained.

Back in 2011, the city spent $2.4 million on 10 buses for the opening for the first stage of the transitway.

The first stage of the corridor was built for $138 million and takes passengers from Queen Elizabeth Way near The Forks to Jubliee Avenue and Pembina Highway.

Mayor Brian Bowman maintains a far-fetched goal of seeing all six bus rapid transit corridors built by 2030.

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