Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Riders find reworked system confusing, inconvenient

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WELL, they don't call it "convenient" transit.

Rapid transit commuters at the new Osborne Station were all over the map during rush hour Tuesday morning. Even those who thought the system made sense said they had to walk farther to take the right bus.

Others were a little less charitable.

"I hate it," said Melissa, who asked that her last name not be used as she blamed rapid transit for making her late for work in the south end of town.

"Instead of taking one bus, like I used to, I have to take two, and the connections aren't the greatest."

This morning she actually took three buses, thanks to what she called misinformation from 311 operators. She also found the chimes at Osborne Station, which ring when a bus comes through in either direction, whether it's in service or not, get annoying after a while.

"I'm looking forward to riding my bike as soon as the weather gets a little warmer," she said.

Shelley Fridboim, a Grade 10 student at Grant Park High School, wasn't a fan, either.

"I don't like it at all. I have to walk farther and I have to get up 20 minutes earlier in the morning," she said.

With 18 affected routes, Bill Menzies, manager of service development for Winnipeg Transit, anticipated a few disgruntled passengers for the first few days.

"When we do large changes like this, it takes a few days for people to get the gist of how things work. They'll learn it once they get the experience of riding it for a couple of days," he said.

The learning curve is pretty steep, he noted, and he saw a marked improvement on Tuesday, the first day of full ridership after the holiday weekend, from Monday.

To minimize confusion, Menzies recommended riders visit the Winnipeg Transit website (www.winnipegtransit.com) and click on the "Navigo" button. Type in a starting point, destination and time of travel, and it will generate a detailed map and instructions, including a walking path map to finish off your journey.

Not every rider needed a hand. Bill Kerr, a theatre professor at the University of Manitoba, said he considers the new rapid transit system to be "fairly straightforward."

"So far, so good," he said. "I trusted the bus would be here soon and it was, within four minutes."

But he doesn't think it's as fast as it should be, especially with the new football stadium being built at the U of M.

"It's crazy to think what it would be like on game day," he said.

Winnipeg Transit has supervisors at the various rapid transit stations as the service is introduced to Winnipeggers, helping commuters get on the right bus and passing out maps and schedules.

Melissa, who is originally from Quebec City, gave Winnipeg credit for trying to do something bigger cities do.

"Quebec City is a bigger city but it's not as confusing as it is here," she said.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 11, 2012 A4

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