Winnipeg Blue Bomber fans will have a plethora of bus options for Thursday’s season opener but the Blue and Gold Express won’t be one of them.
The neighbourhood pick-up service will be replaced by an expanded fleet of Winnipeg Transit buses focusing on 60 Pembina, 75 Crosstown E, 78 Crosstown W, 160, 161 and the University Super Express routes.
Nearly 200 buses will take fans to Investors Group Field via "significantly" enhanced "Fan Fare" and "Park & Ride" programs. Both are free to fans who show the driver their game-day ticket.
But the elimination of the Blue and Gold Express, which traditionally runs loops through West Kildonan, North-East Kildonan, Transcona-St. Boniface, Windsor Park-Southdale-Island Lakes, St. Vital and St. James-River Heights, hasn’t been universally embraced.
"I’m disappointed," said Coun. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan).
"Now you can take a regular bus to downtown and transfer to one of the express buses to the stadium from there. It’s less convenient but it’s still free."
Browaty said he understands why the Bombers and Winnipeg Transit would want to have some overcapacity built in for the first regular season game, but he hopes when they have a firmer idea of the demand, that they’ll redeploy back into the neighbourhoods with the Blue and Gold Express.
Bomber spokesman Darren Cameron said the goal is to enhance the overall transit experience into Fort Garry after years of moving fans to St. James.
"We efficiently moved nearly 10,000 fans to the (Taylor Swift) concert using this system," he said.
The Park & Ride service starts at 5:30 p.m. Buses will depart as they fill from the following locations:
- Assiniboia Downs, 3975 Portage Avenue - 300 stalls
- Club Regent Casino, 1425 Regent Avenue West - 500 stalls
- Garden City Shopping Centre, 2305 McPhillips Street - 100 stalls
- Kildonan Place Shopping Centre, 1555 Regent Avenue West - 100 stalls
- McPhillips Station Casino, 484 McPhillips Street - 500 stalls
- Manitoba Hydro, 820 Taylor Avenue - 500 stalls
- St. Norbert Hotel, 3540 Pembina Highway - 200 stalls
- St. Vital Centennial Arena, 580 St Anne's Road - 200 stalls