November 22, 2019

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Winnipeg Transit predicts growing pains for Bombers fans this season

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Winnipeg Blue Bomber fans that use city transit to attend home games might not be smiling this season. The footbal club will no longer be subsidizing extra buses on Winnipeg Transit routes to the stadium during CFL home games. As a result, bus drivers will now have to collect fares after games — which is expected to slow things down when passengers are loading.</p>

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Winnipeg Blue Bomber fans that use city transit to attend home games might not be smiling this season. The footbal club will no longer be subsidizing extra buses on Winnipeg Transit routes to the stadium during CFL home games. As a result, bus drivers will now have to collect fares after games — which is expected to slow things down when passengers are loading.

Fans seeking bus rides for Winnipeg Blue Bombers games next CFL season should prepare for some growing pains, Winnipeg Transit says.

That was the message delivered to the City of Winnipeg infrastructure renewal and public works committee Tuesday, as it voted to approve a motion to grant Transit director Greg Ewankiw the ability to dispatch additional buses during large events.

The motion comes on the heels of news the Winnipeg Football Club — the non-profit which runs the Blue Bombers — will no longer be subsidizing extra buses on Winnipeg Transit routes to the stadium during CFL home games.

As a result, bus drivers will now have to collect fares after games — which is expected to slow things down when passengers are loading — and there will also be fewer Transit buses in service.

Coun. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan), who is a Blue Bombers season-ticket holder, said even though the agency has predicted "delays" will result, he’s hopeful the impact on traffic in general will be limited.

"By the time the 2020 season rolls around, the majority of the Winnipeg Transit buses that use the rapid transit route will get down that Pembina Highway stretch that gets really backed up, because they’ll be off the traditional road and on the rapid transit route," Browaty said.

"We’ve grown into the site and figured out ways to mitigate some of the impacts… Although, it was mostly taxpayers that paid for the transit mega-facility there (at IG Field)."

During the meeting, Browaty put forth a motion — which passed — calling on the public service to look into what it costs taxpayers to provide extra buses during large events in the city.

While Blue Bombers games are not the only events which require extra buses being put into service, they are more taxing on transit resources than any other large events, the city said.

Browaty said he’s hopeful looking into the costs will show whether Winnipeggers are getting a good bang for their buck.

"When it comes to special events, you have to sort of weigh it. Does it make sense to provide special service for these venues? In the case of Investors Group Field, it’s not located in the most ideal place (the University of Manitoba campus) to provide additional service," Browaty said.

"What the Bombers have done is they’ve set up a whole network, they’ve gone really heavy into these park-and-rides (services). They’ve even, since they got that bus terminal built, they’ve gotten more involved in providing shuttles."

While the Winnipeg Football Club has decided to no longer chip in for the extra Transit buses needed during home games, it plans to continue operating its park and ride services, which provide round-trip transport from seven locations, for a fee.

ryan.thorpe@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @rk_thorpe

Ryan Thorpe

Ryan Thorpe
Reporter

Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.

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