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This article was published 10/10/2013 (2577 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeg Transit’s ridership has been growing twice as fast as the city’s population.
Transit director Dave Wardrop said the ridership increase is being fueled through a combination of the department doing things right and a change in the public’s attitude towards public transportation.
"We’re grabbing market share from the automobile, which is a great thing for Winnipeggers," Wardrop said. "There has been a greater appreciation of some of the service provisions provided by Transit – the convenience of the service, the electronic information systems … and some of the comfort amenities.
"In the last six to eight years, we have seen ridership growth in the three per cent per year range, which is double the growth of the city itself, which is about 1.5 per cent."
Ridership was at a low point 10 years ago, Wardrop said, but since then ridership has grown a total of 30 per cent.
Wardrop told the finance committee this morning Transit plans to stay on top of changes coming to the industry, adding it will be participating in a pilot study next year of electric buses.
Transit will have four electric buses incorporated into its daily schedule late 2014.
The study is a joint effort with New Flyer Industries, Mitsubishi and Manitoba Hydro.
Wardrop said Transit is spending $18 million annually on diesel fuel, adding he expects developments in alternative fuel will see that expense reduced drastically.
There are a range of alternative fuel operating systems employed now, Wardrop said, adding its difficult to know which will emerge as the winner, but he believes electric will come out on top.
Winnipeg Transit will continue to monitor developments of alternative fuel systems before committing to any one type.
"We want to make sure we get it right."
In the meantime, Wardrop said Transit has been bringing an additional 2-3 buses annually into its fleet but expects that to jump to eight new buses annually beginning in 2016.
Wardrop said he expects the rapid transit corridor will generate some of that growth as the new residents of Waverley West become Transit riders.
Transit now has 565 buses in its fleet and it will soon increase by 20 with the addition of articulated, "bendy" buses.
The eight-year-old articulated buses were among 200 taken out of service by Ottawa’s transit agency. Wardrop said New Flyer Industries offered Winnipeg Transit the 20 best out of those 200 at the discounted price of about $50,000 – eight per cent of their brand-new price - and refurbished them.
The first four "bendy" buses will be on city streets in early November during a training period for drivers, Wardrop said, and into regular transit service shortly after that. To extend the lifespan of the "bendy" buses, Transit will only use them during morning and afternoon rush hour, for concert and sporting events, and large charters.