Winnipeg Transit needs to be faster than walking if it wants to be competitive

How to get from Grant and Stafford to St. Vital Mall in a hurry on a Sunday afternoon (From Navigo; © Winnipeg Transit)

A mile is a long way in Winnipeg.

A mile separates the troubled Spence-Langside neighbourhood north of the Assiniboine from the swanky palatial homes that line Kingsway and Ruskin Row on the Assiniboine’s south bank. A mile separates entire social networks on opposite sides of high school catchment boundaries, which can make a difference in a city where high school cliques — and rivalries — survive well into middle age.

Despite the recent arrival of the new rapid transit corridor in Winnipeg, a mile is even still a long way to go by bus.

Take the following table as an example. It shows 12 random locations in Winnipeg within roughly a three-mile straight-line distance from Portage and Main. It also shows how long it would take to get to a location about one mile away as the crow flies at a random daytime departure time on either a Saturday or a Sunday.

Note that in six of the 12 cases, it would be quicker to walk than to take the bus. In four more cases, taking the bus saves less than five minutes compared to walking. (A 25-minute walk is in fact good exercise, but a bit difficult with groceries on a cold, windy day.)

FROM

TO

READY-TO-LEAVE TIME

WALK TIME

TRANSIT TIME

BUS CONVENIENCE SCORE*

Kavanaugh
at Dufresne

St. Boniface Hospital 

2:01 p.m. Sunday

28 mins.

18 mins.

10

Daly at Beresford 

Corydon at Hugo (dining, retail)

8:12 a.m. Saturday

35 mins.

27 mins.

8

Grant at Heath 

Corydon at Wentworth (light retail) 

3:21 p.m. Saturday

26 mins.

22 mins.

4

Admiral at Fife 

McPhillips at Jefferson (supermarket)

1:58 p.m. Sunday

24 mins.

23 mins.

1

St. Matthews at Minto 

Polo Park 

3:57 p.m. Sunday

22 mins.

21 mins.

1

Young at Balmoral 

Osborne Station 

10:15 a.m. Sunday

21 mins.

20 mins.

1

Denson at Riddle 

St.  James at Sargent (big-box
retail)

10:09 a.m. Saturday

25 mins.

27 mins.

-2

Stapleton at Talbot 

EK Pool 

2:57 p.m. Sunday

29 mins.

32 mins.

-3

Brazier at Leighton 

Gateway at McLeod (supermarket)

12:10 p.m. Saturday

27 mins.

34 mins.

-7

Cabana at Des Meurons 

The Forks Market

10:27 a.m. Saturday

25 mins.

35 mins.

-10

Levis at Poplar 

Munroe at London (retail)

4:48 p.m. Saturday

28 mins.

43 mins.

-15

Brunet at Drake 

Autumnwood
at Cottonwood (school, church, light retail)

1:31 p.m. Sunday

25 mins.

46 mins.

-21

* – Based on walk time minus transit time

Another factor which might discourage Winnipeggers from using the city’s transit system is that the system is not always intuitive to navigate.

Take the trip from Talbot and Stapleton to the Elmwood-Kildonans Pool on Concordia Ave. as an example. Winnipeg Transit’s Navigo trip planner shows five possible scenarios between 3:04 p.m. and 3:28 p.m. for the one-mile trip.

The five scenarios involve five different bus routes — the 43, 44, 45, 85 and 90 — leaving from three different bus stops. The most direct route is on the 90 – Concordia bus, which runs at inconvenient 75-minute intervals on Sundays. The most convoluted routing, on routes 45 and 85, require the passenger to literally travel north, south, east and west en route to the destination.

Now try figuring out the easiest way between the two points without Internet access. Much easier — and faster — to just keep walking north to Concordia Avenue.

When it comes to shopping and recreation, many Winnipeggers want to be able to get to locations within their own general part of town. Yet Winnipeg Transit seems to lack sensitivity to neighbourhood needs, with meandering bus routes that connect Corydon Avenue to faraway Garden City Mall more than 20 times per day, but not to the much closer Grant Park Mall; and South Tuxedo to South Osborne every 27 minutes on a weekday afternoon.

To be competitive with the car and even merely walking from one place to another, Winnipeg Transit needs more than just rapid transit. It needs a route system that is easy to navigate — straight lines along major thoroughfares, hub-to-hub nonstop routes, and even circle routes connecting various landmarks in a given area are good, meandering lines are bad — and it needs frequent service so that a missed connection doesn’t mean a wait of half an hour or more.

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About theviewfromseven
A lone wolf and a bit of a contrarian who sometimes has something to share.

5 Responses to Winnipeg Transit needs to be faster than walking if it wants to be competitive

  1. Marty Gold says:

    God forbid a bus should go straight north on Main from Broadway to Jefferson. Or connect St Boniface to Osborne Village.

  2. I think your analysis is a little flawed. You are using Saturday/Sundays as an example, when service is decreased. I would also argue that if you were planning trips on the weekend and transit was your method of transportation, you would plan your trip for the most efficient transit time. You also don’t list the routes – unless they are core routes, then service is decreased and area is increased on the weekend. Our transit system is designed as hub and spoke system which by definition makes access anywhere without going through downtown difficult.

    However, I do agree that sometimes it is quicker to walk than to take transit. When I took night courses at U of M, if I missed my bus to St Norbert, it was almost quicker to walk ( I’d hit the Mc Donald’s at Pembina & Bairdmore before my next bus would show).

    Perhaps more extensive data, or testing at different times and days

  3. Had to laugh when I got to the end of the post & saw the Luminosity ad that included section “Spatial Reasoning”. Perhaps Wpg Transit could benefit? On a serious note, you’re correct when you point out Wpg Transit routes too often fail to meet ‘local’ (i.e. neighbourhood) needs & they must seriously re-evaluate how they configure certain routes.

  4. The Analyst says:

    From my understanding, Winnipeg’s Rapid Transit is currently very good at getting people from the far south to Osborne Junction. Aside from that, not much – a friend even stated that it should be called PBRT – Pembina Bus Rapid Transit. Given the lethargic pace that work on BRT has progressed at thus far, I’m not holding any high hopes for a more extensive trail anytime soon.

  5. The Analyst says:

    From what I understand, BRT is good at getting people from the far south to Obsorne Junction and not much else. A person I know even suggested that it should be called PBRT – Pembina Bus Rapid Transti – for that very reason. In many cases, cycling is a lot more efficient when traveling between core neighbourhoods.

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