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Free ride on rapid transit Thursday

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If you’ve spent your entire life looking for a free ride, here’s your chance.

The city has issued an invitation to everyone in the city to take a free test ride on the 3.6-kilometre first leg of the city’s new rapid transit service on Thursday from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.

The city’s long-awaited Southwest Transitway, until recently known as the Southwest Rapid Transit Corridor, swings into full operation on Easter Sunday, but this Thursday you can check out the first leg without digging into your wallet.

"For the purposes of the special April 5 one-day, free ride offer, RT (rapid transit) buses will operate every 15 minutes and will travel between Balmoral Station at the University of Winnipeg and Pembina Highway at Windermere via the Southwest Transitway," Dave Wardrop, Director of Transit, said in a news release Monday.

The 3.6-kilometre transitway is a high-speed roadway for buses, physically separated from the regular street system. Buses on the Transitway will operate at speeds up to 80 km/h, free of any other traffic, providing very fast, reliable service, the news release boasted.

"This is a great opportunity for Winnipeggers to test drive the new RT before it goes into full operation on April 8," Mayor Sam Katz said.

Detailed route and schedule information for the new rapid transit service, branded as "RT," which includes 13 rapid transit routes, is now available at Winnipegtransit.com. Customers can also use Transit’s Navigo Trip Planner and TeleBUS to plan their travel in advance of April 8.

In addition to a free ride on the new transit system, customers are also being invited to tour three new transitway stations located at:

  • Fort Rouge (in the Fort Rouge Yards)
  • Osborne (on a new bridge over Osborne Street near Osborne Junction)
  • Harkness (at Harkness and Stradbrook)

The city has said 10 bus routes will use the entire transitway for trips between central and southwest Winnipeg. Among them is a new No. 185 express bus to the University of Manitoba that includes a loop through Osborne Village, picking up some of the slack from reduced coverage on the No. 60 Pembina route.

Another three bus routes will use the transitway between Queen Elizabeth Way and Warsaw Avenue before exiting onto Pembina Highway on their way to Grant Avenue or Linden Woods.

A further four routes have been amended to connect with rapid-transit routes, while a brand-new No. 99 Downtown-Osborne Village route has been created to continue to cover Smith and Donald streets.

During the first few weeks of the transitway's operation, Winnipeg Transit staff will circulate around downtown stops and be present at the new stations to offer route advice in person.

- With files from Bartley Kives

More info

Find out more about rejigged and new transit routes on Winnipeg Transit's website.

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