Winnipeg Transit: Not In Public Service

I am a bus person. I have a serious driving phobia, always have. No accident to blame. I have a beginner’s and two years ago dropped several hundred dollars and muscle relaxants on lessons in a bid to get my license. Epic fail. So back to the bus.

Not in Service

I’m outraged at Winnipeg Transit’s lack of planning and resulting service cuts this fall. Melissa Martin’s recent article on the topic struck a chord with me and stuck. “Expectation needs to be more realistic,” Mayor Bowman?! Excuse me?

I remember the Friday before the announcement. Total chaos. Buses not showing up and the ones that did drove right by, stuffed to the gills. I checked Twitter for some kind of disaster. I watched the evening news. Nothing.

It all became clear within a few days. I shuddered, recalling the frantic days of worker action this spring. Desperately refreshing transit’s website to see which routes were cancelled. It changed every 15 minutes, the time it takes me to walk to my stop. Out the door, checking my phone in a game of commuter Russian roulette.

I’m still adapting to the new “service level” and pissed off not for my suburban sake, but for Winnipeggers working shifts, working three jobs, trying to raise a family in poverty. Students, seniors, New Canadians, people not working due to chronic illness, people on social assistance, all relying on a public transit woefully lacking in public service.

Winnipeg Transit director Dave Wardrop has played the whole mess to his advantage:

Service cuts until December + Doug McNeil city chief administrative officer apology = Wardrop free pass to keep his job and keep the media away.

There is no accountability in this equation. Is Transit not a public service? Is Wardrop not a public servant?

Come December, Wardrop will be singing ‘Ooops, we did it again’, not Christmas carols. Here’s what I would like to see to add some public service back into transit:

  1. Since they aren’t getting fired,  Wardrop and his senior management should take transit to work until regular service is restored. You made your bed, now lie in it.
  2. While we’re at it, McNeil and Mayor Bowman should do the same. Sam Katz and some city councilors did this a few years back and it opened their eyes to transit reality.
  3. Fast-track apprentices, bring back recently retired mechanics to help train them, partner with community programs to recruit more mechanics.
  4. Weekly updates on transit metrics: #buses fixed, #new breakdowns, #mechanics in training, #new engines, etc…

Get on the bus Dave Wardrop, Doug McNeil, Mayor Bowman. Get Winnipeg Transit in public service.


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