Mayoral candidate Brian Bowman has pledged to complete all six of Winnipeg’s proposed bus-rapid-transit corridors by 2030 — a multi-billion-dollar infrastructure promise.
Bowman stood before Osborne Station today and said as mayor, he’d make it clear to Ottawa, Broadway and developers the city intends to complete the Southwest Transitway and build new East, West, North, Northeast and Southeast corridors in 15 years.
"Rapid transit does not just move people more efficiently. It promotes development and stimulates revenue," he said.
The city’s current Transportation Master Plan calls for the first four to be completed by 2030, but the next two by 2050.
Bowman said future development alongside transit corridors and transit hubs would cover the cost of the construction, which he declined to estimate. The Transportation Master Plan placed the price tag in the billions in 2011.
The Tory-affiliated lawyer said it will cost Winnipeg even more not to build the corridors. He said a lack of leadership at city hall has delayed rapid-transit development for decades and has created uncertainty that has dissuaded transit-oriented development.
Bowman said he won’t be asking Ottawa and Broadway to fund rapid transit until the city presents a cohesive plan.
He dismissed concerns an aggressive buildout timeline would create capacity issues for the engineering and construction industry, calling that "a good problem to have."
Bowman said his pledge is markedly different than that of conservative rival Gord Steeves, who promised not to complete the Southwest Transitway after initially expressing support for the project. Bowman also said he is not trying to carve votes off mayoral frontrunner Judy Wasylycia-Leis, the former NDP MP and MLA.
He also pledged to ensure transit buses are equipped with Wi-Fi and promised more transit nodes with services and artistically designed bus shelters.
Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry candidate Shane Nestruck, who is trying to unseat incumbent Coun. Jenny Gerbasi, shouted at Bowman during the end of his media event, expressing skepticism with the candidate’s plan.