I grew up in a town without a public transit system. When I moved to Winnipeg as an adult, taking the bus was a skill I had to learn. And in Winnipeg, unlike some other cities I’ve spent time in, using the transit system is indeed a skill.
Around the same time that I was learning to take the bus, I was also trying out riding my bike in an urban environment for the first time. Perhaps surprisingly to anyone who is familiar with Winnipeg’s winters, riding a bike has proven a more efficient and reliable method of transportation for me than taking the bus – how crazy!
Using Winnipeg Transit is an exercise in patience, time management, and organization. I have found it easier and faster (not to mention cheaper!) to ride my bike rather than suffer the long waits, inconvenient timing, and missed transfers of our transit system. Believe it or not, even last winter’s abominable cold did not make the bus a more appealing option. Standing and waiting at a bus stop for a bus that might come late or not at all will get your toes colder, faster, any day, than bundling up and hopping on a bike.
As an able-bodied, active person with a short daily bike commute, cycling is a reasonable option for me. But for many folks in a similar car-less situation, active transportation is just not a possibility. The bus is the only way to get around. The City of Winnipeg should invest in transit that will make a difference to those who use it. Investing in existing routes and increasing connectivity downtown through increased bus frequency will best serve bus riders and make taking the bus more appealing to those of us who cycle or drive instead..