RAPID TRANSIT TASK FORCE
Rapid Transit is leading-edge public transportation that can move more people, more quickly and create powerful solutions to many challenges our city faces. It can have a positive impact on economic development, downtown revitalization, renewal of inner city neighbourhoods and environmental stewardship. By embracing technological advancements in transit, we can rejuvenate public interest and accelerate growth in our transit system — an essential element of any major progressive city.
The issue of rapid transit has been discussed for years in Winnipeg, but really came to the forefront in early 2004 when a tri-lateral funding agreement included $43 million for the establishment of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in Winnipeg.
In September 2004, Winnipeg city council voted to shelve the planned “BRT” system. Council decided instead to redirect $50 million planned for the first segment into other uses. On Nov. 26, 2004, the City of Winnipeg launched a Special Rapid Transit Task Force, chaired by Councillor Russ Wyatt, to investigate the issues and “recommend a direction for Winnipeg” by summer 2005.
The task force recommended developing BRT corridors along existing roadways. Buses on these routes would have the ability to override traffic signals at intersections and move ahead of traffic using jump queue lanes. Separate busways, closed to other traffic, would also be constructed. Recreational paths for biking, walking or in-line skating would be constructed alongside the busways, while cycling lanes would be included on many BRT corridors. Heated transit stops and real-time schedules (based on GPS technology) were also proposed.
In an effort to provide input into the City’s process, The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce launched a task force to gain input from members on the issue and develop Chamber policy.
Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce Recommendations:
Examine the following criteria to determine whether The Chamber supports rapid transit
- Sustainability – Is rapid transit sustainable?
- Public support – Is there public support for rapid transit
- Good for business – Does rapid transit serve as a catalyst for a healthy and prosperous community that offers a strong foundation for business location and expansion
- Value to taxpayers – What is the cost of the different modes of rapid transit?Is there a return on investment? The cost must be transparent to the public.
- Financing options – How will the City pay for rapid transit? There must be a strategy for obtaining substantial federal and provincial government funding and public/private partnership.
- Improved customer service – How measure success?
Proceed with rapid transit only once the City of Winnipeg puts clear and specific measurements in place with respect to identified objectives (i.e. - increased ridership, customer satisfaction, improved travel times/flow).
Implement a rapid transit system in stages that would allow for an evaluation to determine the success of rapid transit before taxpayer dollars are spent on subsequent stages.
Clearly articulate the implementation plan for rapid transit and provide opportunities for public consultation.
Adopted by The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce board of directors, June 2005