Tranzwatching in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
On Monday, Winnipeg city officials gave journalists a tour of the $138-million first phase of the southwest rapid-transit corridor, due for completion completed later this year. While much of the dedicated transit road is still under construction, it will create a 3.6-kilometre bus only corridor, at one stage passing under the rail yards, to bring buses from outer area suburban areas, straight into the city. The system uses a purpose built segregated corridor that shaves a minimum 10 minutes off travel time for commuters, and avoids even longer periods caused by buses trapped in traffic, particularly at an area called Confusion Corner.
The corridor will be used by multiple bus routes coming from a large spectrum of suburbs but the Mayor of Winnipeg Sam Katz has never committed himself to the project, still calling for light rail which would cost much more and require transfers from buses or cars at park and ride stations for most outer area commuters. Senior levels of Government have indicated that their studies show light rail is not cost-benefit realistic in the Winnipeg context and they are not prepared to fund it.
Last year, Katz turned down $130 million in Government infrastructure-stimulus funding for the second phase of the transitway that would create a six-kilometre extension to Bison Drive near the University of Manitoba. According to the Winnipeg Free Press he said it wasn't enough money and said he would rather see the Building Canada Fund used to finance road and bridge projects.
Note; Winnipeg's metropop is just below 700,000 people