Winnipeg’s plan to revamp its transit system by 2045 is rolling forward, but a call to speed up electric bus purchases isn’t on board.
Council’s public works committee voted Tuesday unanimously in favour of the overall Winnipeg Transit Master Plan, which aims to redraw most bus routes, add some zero-emission vehicles, and expand rapid transit.
Coun. Matt Allard’s motion to add 20-24 more zero-emission buses and supporting infrastructure to a funding request linked to the plan was rejected in a split vote.
Couns. Markus Chambers and Allard voted in favour; Couns. Devi Sharma and Jeff Browaty opposed.
Allard argued adding more green buses would help the city meet its climate change goals and possibly help secure senior government funding for the master plan.
"I think there is a moment here in terms of accessing funding… We know the province of Manitoba is favourable to zero-emission buses, we know the federal government is favourable to zero-emission buses," said Allard.
The opposing councillors expressed concern about the plan’s call to free up $49.8 million of funding for the extra green buses by removing four projects from a $539-million Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program request tied to the plan.
It includes: a bus radio and intelligent transportation system replacement; a rapid transit downtown corridors preliminary design; a primary transit network infrastructure project; and a wheelchair securements retrofit.
Allard’s motion suggested the city seek alternate funds for those projects, possibly through federal gas tax revenue.
The funding request does seek $280.4 million to replace 100-110 diesel buses with zero-emission models by the end of 2027.
Allard said he will raise the motion to add more zero-emission buses again, as soon as he can.
Meanwhile, the committee voted 3-1 in favour of studying the cost to reduce the cash transit fare to $1, as part of the master plan.
The transit master plan still requires full council approval.
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.