I am writing on behalf of Functional Transit Winnipeg, a grassroots group of Winnipeggers who want to see transit improved in Winnipeg. We are deeply concerned that the Southwest Corridor is not an effective way for the city to invest in public transit at this time. I am writing to encourage you to take a stance in support of investing $225 million for increased bus frequency throughout the city, rather than in one ineffective bus corridor.
Increasing transit ridership in Winnipeg is an important goal for the city. Both the personal automobile and urban sprawl have resulted in a $7.4 billion infrastructure deficit. This is equivalent to $10,000 per Winnipegger or $30,000 per Winnipeg household. The most economical way to curb the growth of our infrastructure deficit is to invest in increasing transit ridership.
The amount of money promised by the City and the Province, $450 million, is enough to transform transit in Winnipeg but it won’t if it is spent on one six kilometer transitway. The Southwest Corridor does not address the transportation needs of a vast majority of Winnipeggers. The corridor is located far from existing high-density housing and medium-density commercial developments on Pembina Highway, the stops are located up to three times further apart than current transit stops on Pembina Highway, making stops less accessible, and it effectively serves only one very specific transportation need: those who need to travel between downtown to the U of M.
Transit investment should be devoted to increasing frequency and reducing overall trip time throughout Winnipeg. Although there are many expenses associated with increasing bus frequency, for $450 million Winnipeg could purchase 500 buses and pay the salaries of 500 operators for ten years. While the annual cost of financing the Southwest Corridor loan is $20 million, the cost of 500 operators’ salaries is $25 million; as an operating expense, City Council could create a significant amount of good jobs by investing in operators rather than paying off a loan.
Transit investment in Winnipeg is way behind. In 1989, Winnipeg Transit was operating 560 buses, now it is operating 570; meanwhile the City of Winnipeg grew by 105,000 people. We need to invest the full $450 million now and we need to do it efficiently and in a way that meets the diverse transportation needs of Winnipeggers. Investing in bus frequency could significantly improve Winnipeg’s public transit system and make transit a viable choice for Winnipeggers in every neighbourhood throughout Winnipeg.
You can find more information about our campaign at www.functionaltransit.com.
We have an opportunity to transform public transit in Winnipeg. Can we count on your support in investing $225 million in bus frequency in Winnipeg?
Please let us know where you stand on this issue, and if you would be willing to meet with us to discuss it further.
Joseph Kornelsen, on behalf of Functional Transit Winnipeg