Transit overhaul proposal tops $1 billion
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/03/2021 (755 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Winnipeg Transit Master Plan proposes to create a network of six rapid transit corridors and redraw most existing local bus routes over the next 25 years.
That entire plan could cost up to $1.5 billion, according to early price estimates, should council approve it.
A new proposal calls for the city to seek federal and provincial funding under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program to support the first six capital projects within the plan, which would cost a combined $539 million.
While the provincial government recently lobbied the federal government to transfer money earmarked for Winnipeg Transit under that program to fund unspecified “green projects” throughout Manitoba, Transit is banking on the cash to make its vision a reality.
“We’re obviously pinning our hopes on getting that funding from the federal government and the provincial government because it’s really key to improving the system in the way that we think is needed,” said Bjorn Radstrom, Winnipeg Transit’s manager of service development.
The price would include between $600 million and $1 billion for rapid transit infrastructure, which would link corridors to form three rapid transit lines that extend throughout the city, one of which includes the Southwest Transitway.
If approved, funding from the two senior governments would cover 69 per cent of the cost for the first set of projects, which include a $17.3-million radio and intelligent transportation system replacement, a $200.1-million North Garage replacement, a $280.4-million investment in zero emission buses, a $7-million design for rapid transit downtown corridors, a $20.4-million primary transit network infrastructure project and a $13.8-million wheelchair securements retrofit. The city would cover the remaining 31 per cent.
While many funding and final design details have yet to be worked out, Radstrom said the investment would make transit a practical transportation option for far more Winnipeggers.
“In the new transit network, almost three times as many homes in Winnipeg will be within a 500-metre walk of all-day, frequent transit service (than the current one),” he said.
Winnipeggers can expect plenty of changes to meet that goal.
“Every single route that exists outside of Southwest Winnipeg will be replaced with something new. We’re redrawing the whole network from scratch,” said Radstrom, stating the plan would create a more grid-like system.
While the city has previously noted that much of its future rapid transit expansion will take place on existing streets, instead of dedicated corridors, Radstrom said the new plan does require plenty of downtown construction.
For rapid transit, a downtown “mobility hub” at Union Station would be built where all six corridors and three lines would intersect.
The rapid transit lines would also link up to smaller neighbourhood routes, creating a more integrated system.
Council will soon be asked to seek funding for the first six projects. A city staff report says the federal government wrote to the city in February, stating it “will always remain a committed partner in supporting transit expansion.”
On Monday, Manitoba Central Services Minister Reg Helwer said it would be premature for him to comment on the master plan until city council has had a chance to consider it.
“Should council decide to advance it, we’ll go through our analysis and make recommendations to Treasury Board … the province doesn’t proactively respond to the mayor of the City of Winnipeg on his wishes,” Helwer told reporters at the Manitoba legislature.
— with files from Larry Kusch
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.
Updated on Monday, March 8, 2021 9:38 PM CST: Fixes typo.