Tuesday 5 October 2010

Winnipeg Transit, take me home

I haven't posted a profanity-strewn tirade in a while, so without further ado...

I live in a 40 year old middle-class suburb that we'll call "Southdade" for the purposes of this post. One day last week, I worked little later than normal and left work at 5:30 to catch the express "57" bus home. I get to the bus stop and check the electronic time board ... no '57'. What? Must be some kind of mistake. Phone telebus ... "Route 57. Next bus: 7:10. Following bus: 6:15. This is the last bus of the day". WHAT?? What the Hell?? What happened to my 5:45 bus? Since when is there a 7:10 bus? ?

I'll tell you what happened: the 7:10 bus is my 5:45 bus -- delayed by an hour and a half:

Lest you think this is an isolated incident, there have been at least three other incidents recently where I have noticed this schedule "glitch", including one incident where my wife was left standing on Marion for an hour waiting for the bus, until I finally came and picked her up with the car.

Okay. So. I don't want to wait around 45 minutes for the next 57. The only other bus that goes to my neighbourhood is a version of the 16 that meanders through Osborne Village, Fort Rouge, St.Vital, and part of Windsor Park before finally arriving at the north edge of Southdale. It only comes once an hour, but maybe I'll get lucky and catch that one. Oh, but Graham avenue is under construction ... so where do I catch it now? Well, I see that transit taped a handy little map to the sign post over here ... let's have a look:

Route 16 ... "north on Smith, west on Portage". OK. So I can catch it at Portage and Donald.

Cross the street to the westbound Portage and Donald stop ... look at the electronic signboard .......... No sixteen! What? Ok, phone telebus for the second time in five minutes .... "invalid route number". What the FUCK? I cross the street again to double-check the sign. Yup, there it is, the yellow line right at the little dot: Portage and Donald. Hmmm.

So here I am downtown at 5:35 and I have no bus to take home. The 57 isn't coming for 40 minutes and I don't know where the fuck the 16 goes. Why the farking hell is it so hard to get a stupid bus!?! Anyhow, a 19 to Windsor Park came by, and for lack of a better option I decide to hop on that and take the 30 minute walk to get home from Drake Ave.

I don't doubt that the civil servants who run Winnipeg Transit are either sleeping on the couch by 5 o'clock or stick-handling on the 9th green at Pine Ridge, so perhaps they can't comprehend that somebody might actually have to work past 5 and take a bus home. But here's the kicker: as I was riding home (and by "home" I mean "to a different neighbourhood in roughly the same quadrant of the city") on the 19 bus, I saw two more 19s going the same way. In fact, by chance at one point there were three 19s on the same block going the same way. Why the hell are so many buses going to Windsor Park when none are going to Southdale? Do the geniuses at Winnipeg Transit think that Windsor Park is some inner city slum where nobody can afford a car, while Southdale is a posh suburban paradise where everybody drives their Range Rovers in to the office?

It wasn't always this bad, but a couple of years ago Transit cut back the number of routes run by the 57 bus, and around the same time they also chopped the route 50 bus completely, diverting it instead to the transit-riding hotbed of Sage Creek. Urban sprall: decreasing the level of service for all of us. Like I told Transit (via. 311) "Bus service to Southdale has been cut back substantially in the past few years to the point that it is barely adequate. If it cannot at least be reliable then it is completely useless. "

footnote 1:
When I finally got home, I checked the Transit web site to see what was up with the 16 bus, and voila: it goes down Ellice, not Portage. The map at the bus stop was wrong. Me being the good guy that I am, immediately sent a note to 311 telling them that the map is wrong. I even sent them a picture. This was a week ago -- Sept 28. Did they fix it? No. I walked by the bus stop today and the incorrect sign was still up there.

footnote 2:
You'll be happy to know that I didn't pay for my bus ride. Even though I had a pocket full of bus tickets, I asked for a courtesy slip instead, which I properly filled out with my phone number. If they ever call looking for their two dollars and thirty-five cents, I will politely explain to them that I am not paying because they failed to provide adequate service.

somewhat related: Rise & Sprawl


Brian F. Kelcey said...

Glad someone raised this, since what I recently called "busmageddon" screwed up my existence too while I was in the City. If you stand on Portage at rush hour, you'll see that someone decided the best way to cope with the Graham problem was to send several hundred buses down the same lane at the same time. Pure chaos, and there's no way in hell the schedules are predictable with that level of traffic. Things seemed awfully improvised - and I'm stunned the work is still ongoing.

Speed of construction and reducing disruption could be sleeper issues for an ambitious councillor, if they wanted to wake up and tackle them.

cherenkov said...

Speed of construction is definitely something that would resonate with a lot of people.

Footnote 3: The should teach bus drivers to look in the review mirror before they pull away. Me and another dude missed the bus this morning by seconds, as the driver pulled away oblivious to the fact that two people were running for the door right beside the bus. Oh well... walk back home and get the car ...

Shaun M Wheeler said...

Cheren, if you come to the New Winnipeg meetup next week, I have a couple of stories for you regarding this matter...

cherenkov said...

I plan on being there. C U Then!

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