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Ride high in Assiniboine Park this year

IT'LL be double the fun riding around Assiniboine Park this summer.

The park is getting a double-decker bus -- a 1967, red Routemaster -- that will shuttle people around the park this spring and summer.

The bus was originally purchased by retired senator Douglas Everett and his wife for nostalgic reasons, said a press release issued Friday.

Routemaster buses were well-known in London until they were phased out in 2005.

"We've always had this image in our mind that at one point in the future we would have some sort of a tram or a people-mover within the park to help people move from area to area," Don Peterkin, chief operations officer at the Assiniboine Park Convervancy, said Friday.

The bus will let visitors "jump on, jump off" for free and stop at major destinations such as the Conservatory and the new Assiniboine Park Zoo entrance.

The full route and hours of operation have yet to be announced.

Winnipeg another $3.4M in the black

WINNIPEG recorded a surplus $3.4 million higher-than-projected in 2012.

A city finance report released Friday said that Winnipeg recorded a $15.9-million surplus last year -- higher than the estimated $12.5 million, which was put toward Winnipeg's 2013 operating budget.

A city statement said the remaining $3.4-million surplus will go toward any budget challenges this year, such as higher-than-normal snowfall or balancing estimated budget shortfalls for 2014.

Council's finance committee will review the report at a meeting next week.

Bus passes could cause budget shortfall

WINNIPEG need to add eight buses to its fleet if it moves ahead on universal transit passes for students.

Winnipeg Transit has been in discussions with student unions from the University of Manitoba and University of Winnipeg about implementing a UPass. The mandatory pass would be purchased by students as part of their tuition payment for a given semester and cover an academic term.

A city report released Friday said universities in other provinces have seen as much as a 50 per cent increase in transit ridership from similar programs, along with decreased traffic flows into the universities. The idea is to spread the city's existing fare income from students across the entire student body, the report said.

However, the report said it would further reduce the cost of a student pass, which currently costs $66.25, and cause a budget shortfall for the department. Winnipeg expects the number of students taking the bus would increase by 20 per cent, and the city would need to expand its fleet by eight buses.

The report said the two student unions will refine their enrolment estimates to bridge the funding shortfall.

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 23, 2013 B5

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