Categories
Active Transportation Climate Policy Congestion Pricing Public Transportation Winnipeg Winnipeg Transit

Decongesting Winnipeg’s Finances With a Spoonful of Congestion Pricing


As municipalities grasp the challenges, financial shortfalls, and meeting transportation infrastructure needs, the debate is occurring on addressing these concerns.

In an era where many cities are failing consistently to address climate action, finance, health and urban sprawl issues. Congestion pricing offers a solution to many of Winnipeg’s needs.

Photo by Adam Johnston

So what is Congestion pricing?

The best definition of it comes from the US Department of Transportation (UDOT), citing its “a way of harnessing the power of the market to reduce the waste associated with traffic congestion.”

What types of Congestion pricing strategies?

UDOT offers four methods.

1.       Variably priced lanes: Separate variable toll lanes.

2.       Variable tolls on all roadways can induce rush-hour toll-free facilities or bridges and roads

3.       Corridor/zone-based charges: Vehicles driving in a congested city are charged fixed or variable rates.

4.       System/area-based charges: A system where all roads on a network or area are charged per mile can be based on congestion.

Why Congestion pricing?

Winnipeg is facing many challenges, including financial (heavy reliance on property taxes, population (the city is aiming to reach the one million population mark by 2035), and the climate crisis (Winnipeg released its climate action plan in 2018).

Meanwhile, suburban sprawl is putting tremendous pressure on our cities. Residents commute from satellite communities and use city services without adequately paying for them.

Combining all the above factors and the climate crisis advances the need for making congestion pricing a solution for our environmental and financial markets.

Other cities have adopted this policy. London, England, implemented a 5 pound/day congestion pricing policy in 2003 to address automobile congestion. Analysts said London’s solution was successful financially (with a net income of 238 Euros), while improving infrastructure for sustainable transportation modes (public transit and cycling), roads, and road safety. Congestion fell by 30%, while between 2000 and 2013, transportation modes shifted towards cycling and public transportation.

What method would work best in Winnipeg when seeing the success happen in London? A mixture could work.

For example, a zone-based charge could be applied to Winnipeg’s most congested areas (Kenaston Boulevard, Portage Avenue between Arlington Street to Main Street)  during rush hour (lets say $6.00 a day). It’s the ultimate in a driver’s deterrence should they attempt to go into these hot zones during rush hour period (morning 7 am to 9 am; afternoon 3:30 to 5:30 pm).

How should the revenue be spent?

Winnipeg could for example allocate most of its congestion pricing revenue to make the transportation system more climate-resilient (40% towards public transportation and 30% towards active transportation infrastructure). The remainder should go to city reserves (15%), education on road safety (10%), and the remaining 5% to support cycling theft prevention.

I am sure that many people would not be happy with a congestion pricing regime in this city. I am sure some would say that congestion pricing is a communist takeover. However, I challenge those who say this to look at our backyard. Look at the shape of our city’s roads. Potholes, potholes, and more potholes. It seems like it’s a Winnipeg right of passage every spring. It’s a glaring faux pas that many of us do not realize until we finally wake up that perhaps it’s not just how we build our roads but also how we get around and the type of vehicles that we drive around that has caused this problem. As ESPN soccer analyst Taylor Twellman famously once said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing with no result”. Well, we have done that for too long. Snow falls, potholes come, fill the hole, drive your pickup truck or SUV over it, winter comes again, repeat the cycle.

We break the cycle of insanity and look and congestion pricing. A few years ago, carbon pricing was a far-fetched idea in mainstream media, and it’s now a part of Canadian tax policy. Its twin cousin, congestion pricing, should become a part of municipal and provincial financial policy to save Winnipeg from many concerns.

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Active Transportation Recovery process

My Recovery and my War on Cars


It’s been just over six months since being hit by a car, where I needed surgery on my right pelvis and part of my spine, spent a month in the hospital, and then quarantined for three weeks near the end and returning home. I won’t go to much detail on the ordeal, as you can read about it here.


All I can say is thank goodness that phase in my life is mostly completed, except for some odds and ends. Physically, I would say I am about 90% normal. I can do normal daily activities. This includes walking, lifting basic stuff, and of course, cycling. In early February, I started cycling back on my fat bike with small rides (nothing more than 5km), which has steadily progressed to the point I can cycle to work some days. Unfortunately, the weather has done more to put a dent into full-time commuter cycling with the freeze-thaw cycle from the large amounts of snow this winter plus this recent snowstorm on April 13th. Now after that, and the big rain storm ten days later, I am ready to go full blast as a commuter cyclist again with the snow gone. Next fall, I plan to get studs on my fat bike tires and a rear rack. I’m not risking my bike slip next winter.

In my recovery process, I have learned a few things.

First, You appreciate people who help out whenever. Thank you to those who sent me well wishes, small gifts during my dark period, and shoveled snow. Bless you.

Second, I learned the importance of resilience in living on your own in a small house. I could not rely on everyone to get stuff done, I had to get some items done. Taking out the garbage, cleaning when I could. It was not easy. At times painful, but I appreciated that I could rely on myself, for the most part, to get some of the much-needed items done.

Third. I made two new friends. Physiotherapy from the Pan Am Clinic, was world-class. Going twice a day for almost two and a half months to get me where I needed to be to get back on my bike, but also not missing tax season was key. We all could use more physiotherapy, and we should make it affordable for all. I was thankful MPI covered the costs, but it would have been a costly experience without them, even if Blue Cross dented some of the prices. Perhaps better health insurance coverage would be a good start.

Also, Winnipeg Transit, I consider my second-best friend. It, strangely enough, played a part in the recovery process. When I could walk with assistance, I started to take the bus to malls to walk around or get the basic stuff that I needed. Public Transit, despite its challenges, plays a crucial role in helping those folks who don’t have a car get around town get to where they need to. Also, by taking Winnipeg Transit, I had to walk to my bus stop and destinations, helping to strengthen my right pelvis and back.

However, While I am thankful for many things during this recovery process, its not been easy in certain aspects.

First, heading back to work has been a challenge. Going from working seven days a week to not working for four months to back at full blast has made my mind mush and what I want to make next career wise. I feel like eventually, I owe myself some new career challenges down the road. Why not? Finally, there is only so much listening to customers complaining about being stuck in a drive-thru for 40 minutes for fast food, right?

Time for a discussion on real Active Transportation planning, rather then just “sharing the road”.

Second, being hit by a car last fall was my declaration of my own “War on Cars” (The podcast of the same name is worth a listen to). When I mean “War”, I don’t mean slashing tires or spaying painting cars. My own battle with cars is the personal automobile’s occupation of our transportation system. Examples include the yo-yo effect of high gas prices, slow deployment and high mineral extraction for electric vehicles, personal safety, environmental impact, and government costs. Since the incident, I have read many books on the need to make our cities more sustainable by making them more accessible to public transit, cycling, and walkability.

From what I have read, the videos I have watched, I am convinced that we as Winnipeggers, owe it to ourselves to change how we look about moving around our city. For those with low to moderate incomes, owning a car is not feasible. Car sharing programs like Peg City Co-op make more sense for those who drive. Cycling and taking public transit are two game-changers in mitigating climate change and saving people a few dollars in their bank account to go do things. I’m not opposed to cars. I get that many need them to get around, including older people who do have some mobility issues. However, we need to have a hard look at ourselves in the mirror; if, as a city, we are going to get to a million residents by 2035, we will need to accelerate alternative methods of transportation and provide incentives for this (congestion pricing, anyone?).
That is all I have to go to say. Have a great day.

Categories
Book Review Public Transportation Steven Higashide Sustainable Transportation Winnipeg Civic Election 2022 Winnipeg Transit Winnipeg Transportation Master Plan Winnipeg Transportation Master Plan 2050

Review: Better Buses, Better Cities: How to Plan, Run, and Win the Fight for Effective Transit


Synopsis: American transit analyst Steven Higashide provides an engaging, well researched book on how cities can effectively win the battle to improve local public transit.

With gas prices on the rise, thanks to the Russia/Ukraine War, consumers are looking at other transportation modes, including public transportation, to get their commuting done.

Photo by Adam Johnston

While many scoff at taking transit daily for their transportation needs, public transportation has been here for centuries and will continue to play a vital role in our future. Factor in it one of the most efficient ways to move people around and one of the most sustainable modes of transport around, and you see why Winnipeg Transit is getting a second look.

However, although numerous proposals to attach the rocket strap on setting our public transit system to the stratosphere have previously crash-landed, maybe its time to adhere to the words of American Transit analyst Steven Higashide in his 2019 book Better Buses, Better Cities: How to Plan, Run, and Win the Fight For Effective Transit

In his expose, Higashide writes that for successful public transit has to be more about efficiency and grit and less about being sexy with bells and whistles.

He writes for a public transportation system to work effectively, which comes down to making the bus more frequent. Higashide also argues systems must be faster and more reliable, walkable and noble; improve the lives of their current riders, and not fall under the trap of various schemes, like micro-transit and driver automation.

Higashide provides some great examples of how some US cities have improved their public transportation systems, from Seattle increasing its transit efficiency by increasing property, sales taxes, and vehicle license registration fees, to Minneapolis-St. Paul’s program to enhance bus shelters in low-income communities.

One of the key points I took home from this book Higashide stresses is building broad-based coalitions to get important structural change done to improve the basics of public transportation and make it more attractive for people to ride. In one chapter, He points to Indianapolis, where the olive branch coalition of transit activists, faith-based groups, and local chamber successfully educated local voters on key tax proposals to improve their system. These types of alliances illustrated from Indianapolis’s successful transit vote are required for Winnipeg to push for The Transportation Master Plan ahead of this fall’s civic election. A wide range of climate, urban, health, and social activists, Indigenous and newcomer groups, small businesses, could be the rallying cry to move a lethargic city hall on improving Winnipeg Transit.

Overall, I recommend this book be on the shelf of anyone who has an interest in improving Winnipeg’s transit system. We could learn a lot from what this book has to offer in improving the functionality of our own system and how we grow those coalitions necessary to get the work done. Afterall, our communities, and Planet Earth deserve better.

Four Buses out of Five.

Categories
Active Transportation Car Culture Commuter cycling Cycling Winnipeg

Welcome Back to…. Insanity


After nearly five months since getting smacked by a car, I decided to commute to work by bike on March 14th.

And the first trip was breathtaking, frustrating, and baffling, reflecting the mood Winnipeg cyclists have faced this winter with the overabundance of snow and shotty removal services.

One of my two jobs involves commuting from home in Elmwood to way down Portage Avenue near Grace Hospital. Instead of taking Winnipeg Transit, it was time to run and gun on my fat bike.

First thing I noticed was how poor the side streets were. Rutty? Check. Slippery. Double-check. Mushy? Triple check. It seemed like it was either rutty or sheer ice where I went. Riding towards Waterfront Drive, on side streets including Herbert, and William Newton, were rutty. You especially have to have good skills down back lanes, where you have a mixture of deep ruts and ice. You have to be super skilled when there is nothing but ice. On my morning ride down Bruce Avenue as an alternative route to Yellow Ribbon Greenway (which is the alternative route to Portage Avenue, more on that in a few moments) was make no mistake skating on an NHL hockey rink. It was a mixture of adrenaline, slight anxiety, and composure to ensure that a) I made it in one piece riding down this street and b) and having the focus and mad skills to ride at a good pace. The afternoon commute was a little better as the snow was softer. Point to me, but lets just say, this was not for the faint of heart.

Cyclists need bike lanes and trails. City of Winnipeg response: Ahhh screw them. Note number two. Despite the City attempting to promote themselves as much more bike friendly than a few decades ago, Winnipeg continues to fall flat, report after report. This winter has been no exception, with many cyclists bombarding Twitter every day, with just poor snow-clearing efforts on our bicycle lanes and many of our trails.

With spring around the corner, I was not disappointed with the City of Winnipeg’s snow cleaning shenanigans. My usual two routes to my St. James job are going through the Forks, to Wellington Crescent, leading to Assiniboine Park, or Ellice, to St. Matthew’s, to Yellow Ribbon, leading to Ness then Bruce. I chose route number two. And, boy, I must wonder if it was a smart move. First off, unsurprisingly, the Maryland bike lane was buried under the snow. No sign of any life of a bike lane around. Finally, getting to St. Matthew’s, I would be rocking and rolling right? Dead wrong. Blooper number one: none, and I mean NONE of the St. Matthews bike lane ( aka known as sharrows, aka a sexy name for a driving lane cut in half slapped with paint made for cyclists) was correctly cleared.

Although its marking did try to come out, the painted portion of the lane was not transparent. So you guessed it, I fought between traffic, going on the sidewalk. Ok, fine, I did that. I get to the final a straightforward protected bike lane after Century, right? Wrong again. St. Matthews westbound was a battle to try to ride my bike through it where you guessed it… went back on the normal road.

Then I finally get to Ferry Road, leading to Silver Avenue, thinking I will pick up the pace once I get to the Yellow Ribbon Greenway. Three strikes, and I was out. It looked like it was not properly clean enough at the time, and I could be wrong I had to go down a side street from Silver Avenue to the ice rink known as Bruce Avenue.

Eventually, my 16 km journey, of start stops, partial walks, ended to my destination at the Courts of St. James. It took me about 110 minutes at 12.3 km/h. Not great. When all things are equal, a normal winter ride would be about 70-85 minutes. My ride back home was highlighted by nearly being side swiped on Ellice Avenue. Oh goody. Insanity at its best.

Regardless the positives from this ride, it got my blood flowing after a long hiatus from commuter cycling. I plan to ease into it slowly. Perhaps two days a week this week, 2-3 days, 4 days two or three weeks and five days in about a month. That is an important and modest success, compared to where I was a few months ago sitting in a hospital bed, with nothing to do that I am thankful for.

Now, if we can only coax our Winnipeg city council into supporting policies that accelerate active transportation 12 months of the year, not just spring and summer. After all, our city’s health, climate action plan, and finances depend on it. That would be great thanks.

Categories
Active Transportation Adult worries Adults Car Culture Childhood Childhood wonders

Dear Adults: Cycling is the Way Forward


Dear Adult Friends:

I hope you are doing well so far early in 2022.

Now may I tell you something truthful. Something that can lead to the path of sustainable transportation enlightenment.

Image via Pexels Andrea Piacquadio

In this climate change era, I believe cycling is the path forward on so many levels if we are going to cut our transportation emissions. Now I know this is not everyone’s cup of tea, and most don’t want to give up the comfort of the automobile. However, there are many reasons why cycling is best.

More money In Your Wallet

Guess those gas prices to fuel your SUV are eating up your wallet, like a main course meal?

Who does not LOVE saving money, right? Money, they say, is king these days.  It can be better spent on a bicycle instead of car payments, gas, and insurance. According to bikecommuterhero.com, commuter cycling alone can provide substantial savings compared to car ownership. The money you save from choosing to cycle can go to paying the mortgage, saving money for education, or even better support groups who are battling the fight against climate change. And why would you want to spend $1.40/litre of gasoline, which goes to large fossil fuel companies anyways, when your money can do better work.

Healthier society

If you choose to ride your bicycle as your form of commuting, you will realize many health benefits. Cycling provides excellent cardiovascular exercise while also providing a perfect workout for some muscles. You may be able to cancel the gym membership, which can also offer substantial savings monthly.  Meanwhile, there are well-known mental health benefits within the medical community. A 2011 study from The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry said outdoor physical activity compared to indoors provided more significant mental health benefits, including decreased confusion, tension, and anger, while increasing positive feelings, energy, and revitalization. By taking up cycling as your primary form of transportation, you will quickly see improvements to your mental health. I can attest to this as I work two jobs, leaving me minimal time for exercise. By cycling to one of my jobs round trip 32 km, I feel this has helped me to relieve tension, stress, but also helps sharpen my focus at work. As adults, we already have enough strain in our daily lives by working daily while facing the constant challenges of juggling family duties. The less mental clutter we have in our head, the sooner it gets a whole lot better.

Better for the Environment

We, as adults, are always talking about how to preserve our planet for future generations as much as possible. However, yet fall flat when it comes to this. Favoring a bike over a car is another good reason this is the most adult thing we can do.

Studies have shown when we commute by bicycle; there are immense benefits environmentally.  A March 2021 article noted, cycling has ten times more of a positive impact then electric vehicles when trying to reach net zero emissions in cities. Given the most recent IPCC report to drastically reduce emissions as soon as possible, cycling is one of the best ways to reduce our transportation emissions dramatically. Even more important, the infrastructure in building active transportation networks is very cost-effective, including increasing property values, boosting retail sales, and even creating more jobs than road projects alone, according to the CBC. A bike lane alone can cost as little as $20,000/km, vs. $1.2 million/km for widening a road.

Cycling can provide more benefits than a motorized vehicle from financial savings, improved health, and protecting our environment.

The Most Adult Thing We Can Do, and Feel, like a Kid Again

While there may be times automobile use is necessary, most trips are under 10 km and don’t require a car. Cycling is the best option for getting around in a city.

If we take climate action seriously and more swiftly, we should take up the call whenever possible, ditch the car and take up an excellent rugged bike as the best way to get around our cities. After all, we owe it to ourselves and future generations to do this in battling the climate crisis. And the best part is we can feel like a kid again, too, which we all could use from time to time to appreciate the wonders of this world.

Shell Gas and Duff Roblin Parkway Trail Photos Taken By Adam Johnston

Categories
Active Transportation Bunn's Creek Cycling North Kildonan Winnipeg

Bunn’s Creek Trail: Scenic Trail Rekindles Childhood memories


The second of my Winnipeg trail review series looks at the scenic, beautiful Bunn’s Creek trail.

They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and Bunn’s Creek is no exception. This 3.0 km trail is a hidden gem in North Kildonan for cyclists, hikers, and nature lovers alike.

Founded in late 1970, after several years of the North Kildonan municipalities plan for Bunn’s Creek to become a provincial centennial project. Eventually, the City of Winnipeg took over the park in 1972, when North Kildonan amalgamated with the City of Winnipeg. Walking trails were eventually added in two years later.

Photo By Adam Johnston

Toboggan runs and skating rinks have added to the park upgrades over the years.

Located between Raleigh, and Henderson Highway, the trail meanders through various streets in North Kildonan adjacent to the Creek, including Rothesay Street and Bonner Avenue. Bunn’s Creek provides vivid memories of my childhood, with its scenery and accessibility.

Advantages

Natural and Scenic Beauty: If parks can sell themselves, Bunn’s Creek’s natural scenic beauty is worth the bike ride or hike any part of the year. From luscious blooming trees in the spring to colorful leaves in the fall and crisp snow in the winter, the urban trail offers you a chance to be in touch with nature without driving lots of kilometers away from Winnipeg. Analysts have said nature can be simplistic medicine in reducing the daily stresses we face. There is something for everyone. Start your adventures at Raliegh; your reward through the meandering trail is seeing the Red River, just past Henderson Highway. Regardless, what time, day, or season or go, seeing the birds chirping away along the bustling Creek on your bike or shoes is worth your time.

Photo By Adam Johnston

Accessibility: Besides its scenic beauty, the one thing I appreciate about Bunn’s Creek is its ease of accessibility to everyone. You can access the trail on Henderson, Raleigh, in adventuring the whole trail. When city dwellers need more green spaces, accessibility to them is critical for a person’s mental health. Bunn’s Creek is one of the better greenspaces within the North Eastern area of Winnipeg, where people can walk, cycle, have barbecues or enjoy other outdoor activities.

While there is plenty to take away from your time at Bunn’s Creek, I have some minor criticisms (and I mean very minor).

Issues

The trail is frequently busy: If there is one thing that provides the odd hiccup I have found when crossing paths, it is trendy, its often busy and can be crowded at specific points in the day (namely late morning afternoon) if you are going to go to the trail, its best to go very early in the morning or later in the evening when the trail is not as crowded.

Too Short: Bunn’s Creek is a beautiful trail if you walk or cycle. However, the trail can be short. Bing, bang boom if you are zooming through it by bicycle. If you want to get the most out of the trail, perhaps walking the 3.0 km plus trail may be your best bet to take in everything.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Bunn’s Creek is with a trip when you are not busy, thanks to its scenic beauty and accessibility to green space within North East Winnipeg. Minor problems, including high foot traffic and the trail, is too short if you are a cyclist, can put a slight damper on your visit—however, it’s still worth your time.

On a personal note, It’s been nice to reconnect with the trail since I have been commuting by bicycle everyone in recent years. I can recall often going on field trips during my elementary time at Polson School with the opportunity to run around in the park and go for picnics.

I first rode my bicycle back in October/November of 2020 to the trail and frequently traveled there most early Sunday mornings to get a few kilometers in (before my motor vehicle incident). I can always find something new personally to enjoy here. I have seen the Creek near-drought after a rainstorm, and its added my heightened sense of awareness about nature and the need to support urban parks.

I look forward to doing my routine Sunday morning cycling adventures back to Bunn’s Creek this spring.

**** out of 5 bicycles.

What do you think of Bunn’s Creek Trail? Is it one of Winnipeg’s hidden gems? What don’t you like about it? Let me know what you think via Facebook, Twitter, or by email at adamjwpg@teksavvy.com.

Categories
Kansas City Kansas City Transit Winnipeg Transit Winnipeg Transportation Master Plan Winnipeg Transportation Master Plan 2050

What’s Fare is Fair


Synopsis

Winnipeg Transit’s Future fare ideas move in the right direction with WTMP, but needs more to address equity and privacy concerns.

Winnipeg in 2021 had laid out its second phase of the Transportation Master Plan (TMP), which attempts to address the challenges of moving our city towards more sustainable transportation modes. Winnipeg Transit is expected to play a vital role in the TMP, and transit plans to create fare parity by streamlining its fares and towards digital payments. However, Transit needs to address fare equity and possible privacy concerns.

Photo by Adam Johnston

The City of Winnipeg gave its thumbs up to the second stage of the TMP last year as it attempts to address its climate action plan. Approximately 50% of the cities emissions come from transportation alone. Most of Winnipeg gets around by automobile (78%), followed by Transit (14%), then cycling/walking (7%).

Public transportation is expected to play a crucial part in the TMP and active transportation. By 2030, approximately 15% of all trips in Winnipeg by 2030 are expected on Winnipeg Transit.

Even Winnipeg Transit acknowledges this as a lofty goal:

This represents a substantial increase from the estimate of 7-8% in 2011 by the Transportation Association of Canada in its 5th Urban Transportation Indicators report. This shift away from private vehicle travel toward more sustainable modes will be an extremely challenging goal that can only be met through the bold and innovative plans that are proposed in the Winnipeg Transit Master Plan.

Winnipeg Transit Master Plan (P.15)

Bus fares are one of the main ways factors if passengers will take the bus or not. It’s their best subliminal marketing tool to wow people to take the bus.

Transit in the Winnipeg Transit Master Plan (WTMP) is planning to streamline its future fare structure to create parity as they say its “confusing for passengers”, while creating barriers. Its also planning to go towards all digital payments.

Future transit fares could look like this under the WTMP: Less similar products (i.e., three days, 14, and 21-day fares); discontinued cash fares for youth and seniors. Expanding the WINNPASS option to youth, seniors, and deep discounts for monthly fares to offset single fare increases.

Meanwhile, the city is looking to trade in physical payment options (bus tickets, cash) and expand digital payment options (Peggo, mobile, digital station docks) while allowing passengers to go on the bus without using the farebox. Instead, proposed transit inspectors would check to see if passengers pay their fares.

This provides some positives as Winnipeg Transit looks to move forward:

Positives

Recognizing the importance of simplifying and streamlining fares:

In recent years, Transit’s fare system was cluttered and somewhat confusing. Take similar options with three and five-day passes on the Peggo card when it came into effect 8-9 ago. It’s likely to see the three-day pass axed under a streamlined system while encouraging users to go with monthly passes.

Streamlining fares is a good step for Transit as it evolves.

Photo by Adam Johnston

More digital options: Like everything else, things are going digital. It’s not surprising Winnipeg Transit plans to go this route. Gone (if they get their way) will be the days of paper bus tickets, coins, and putting them in the fare machine. Mobile systems and e- payment stations will be in their place and hopping on the bus without putting coins in the machine or dealing with failed transfers not being read. Instead, you would have to keep your tickets if Transit enforcement check you to pay your fare. Winnipeg Transit’s attempts to modernize, at least having the conversation about going paperless, is a step forward. Its been the trend this century, since the explosion of mobile technology in the early 2010s. However, this could be hard and have some push back.

Encouraging higher discounts for passes: We see that with monthly passes, currently, as well as the EcoPass program for employees. The same thing with future plans with WINNPASS, as they prove to offer WINNPASS as an alternative for seniors and youth to reduce cash fares (which are proposed on being phased out). Winnipeg Transit may get a more steady stream of revenue with passes to passengers that they could use to continuously improve our cities transit system, which Winnipeg desperately needs. Other ideas could include expanding the eco pass to include cyclists who may ride during spring-fall but not winter/or different adverse weather conditions.

Offering deep discounts on a marketing basis is a smart idea for Transit to entice users to get out of their cars and take Transit Tom, making it as attractive as possible. Streamlined and decent fares are a public transportation organization’s best marketing tool.

Criticisms

Streamlining fares is not always about equity: What about those who can not afford monthly bus passes, including WINNPASS? What if you are a senior or youth who want to use the bus here and then and does not use it all the time? What if you don’t have a cell phone or do digital? The challenge for Winnipeg Transit moving forward is while streamlining its WTMP long-term fare proposal, it needs to ensure no one is left behind, including the poorest people, Indigenous, immigrants and those who don’t use digital payment methods. These groups often heavily rely on our public transit system. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) suggests having sharp discounts on single fares, while children under 18 should ride the bus for free. Shouldn’t the goal be to make fares as low as possible for everyone? Ask Kansas City, who are offering zero fares through 2023 in an attempt to improve ridership. There would be significant financial challenges if Winnipeg were to go this route. However, proper financing (increased city revenue streams and a return to 50/50 transit financing between the city and province) would make zero fares one step closer.

Privacy concerns: Digital is here to stay. Nothing wrong with it. Yet, some caution needs to be thrown into the wind within the privacy aspect. While I like the idea that possibly in the future, you pay your fare ahead of time and go on a bus without dealing with the farebox, it does have possible privacy drawbacks. Transit acknowledges some legal concerns, yet they really need to do their homework to ensure they find a proper balance between a efficient and equitable digital payment system.

Terry O Reilly best said it in on the importance of good service withing marketing a product:

Every customer. Every time. No Exceptions. No Excuses. Its a big promise. But do it right, and you’ll discover that making people happy makes you happy. Its a wonderful reciprocal experience. And delivering consistent, superlative, standout customer service is one of the best ways to cause your competitors to find you “really, completely, irritating”. It’s all a game of inches.

Marketing Lessons from Under The Influence (P. 183)

That competition Transit really needs to irritate in the future is against automotive traffic with a world class transit system that is backed by a modern payment system that recognizes equity for all. At the same time Winnipeg will attempt game of inches with Transit in addressing its own climate action plan to mitigate the worst effects for future generations.

Conclusion

Winnipeg Transit in its WTMP is finally addressing the concerns of fare parity, streamlining, and modernizing the payment system by looking to go completely digital as Winnipeg Transit will play a vital aspect of the Transportation Master Plan. However, concerns about not addressing equity amongst marginalized groups and privacy with a digitized payment system may cause legal issues. All need to be addressed before the Transportation Master Plan (TMP) completion.

What do you think? Is Winnipeg’s WTMP on the right track with its fare proposals? Will a complete digitized payment system work? Feel free to reach out to me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN or by email at adamjwpg@teksavvy.com.

Photo by Adam Johnston
Categories
Miscellenous

North East Pioneers Greenway: Past rail history lead to compelling modern AT Trail


As a commuting and recreational cyclist in Winnipeg in recent years, I have had the opportunity to go on some of Winnipeg’s trails. Today is the first of my reviews of various trails within the city.

Whether it’s Elmwood being one of the heaviest industrialized areas in Winnipeg’s history, ranging from furniture manufacturing and meatpacking to East Kildonan being an early agricultural hub for the city, the area has always been the working-class heart of the city. Its rail lines were tied to the Elmwood/East Kildonan area, including the Marconi rail line between Gateway and Raleigh. Eventually, the line ceased in 2005. One year later, John Buhler purchased the land and turned it over to the city for $1.5 million, which the city paid $150,000 to pave the trail.

Since then, the 6.9 km North-East Pioneers Greenway trail (NEPG) has expanded to include East St Paul. Eventually, the long-term goal is to stretch to Birds Hill.

Since the NEPG opened nearly 16 years ago, it’s been one of Winnipeg’s busiest and well-known trails. Despite the trail’s success, some challenges are facing this trail, and what can be done to improve the NEPG, making it a critical focal point of Winnipeg’s Active Transportation network.

The Positives:

The convenience of ease and accessibility: My favorite thing about the NEPG is its accessibility, which can lead you to key destinations by bike or foot.

I really enjoy the idea of me getting out of my house, going straight to the trail, and being able to key access points. For example, a straight 7 -10 minute ride can lead me to Superstore on Gateway. Or how about another 5 minutes ride over the Chief Peguis active transportation bridge, leading to Bunns Creek. How about recently going to East St Paul, accessing the scenic Duff Roblin Parkway Trail to places like Birds Hill Park or Lockport?

All paths lead to East St Paul. Photo by Adam Johnston

In the past, you would have had to go down Henderson or Gateway/Raleigh to go to Lockport, but now with the NEPG and Duff Robin Parkway trail, you can go for the day to these places easier.

Snow cleared in decent time: Another positive for winter active transportation is the NEPG is frequently clean after a significant snowstorm. While the city has changed its policy to address clearing bike lanes and active transportation trails, its faced criticism after the first major snowfall this winter by citizens over the lack of care of other sidewalks, active transportation trails and bike lanes.

However, NEPG, from my own experience living near the trail in the last two years, has been very positive. It’s cleaned right after a significant snowstorm (24-48 hours), and at times sanded. For those in the area who use the trail to bike or walk during winter, its frequent cleaning is a bonus. Now it’s time to improve other trails and bike lanes.

Honoring Elmwood/East Kildonan History: If you start the NEPG at its very beginning, you notice the trail pays respect to the proud working-class history of Elmwood/East Kildonan, including information about the history of the area, key personalities, and history of the rail line. It’s a nice touch to symbolize the future of where transportation is going (being more environmentally sustainable) while honoring the past of an industry that built up the working class in the early 20th century.

While I really enjoy the NEPG, some things could enhance the trail now.

Challenges:

Add more lighting: This is my biggest beef with the NEPG. There is a lack of lighting north of Chalmers Avenue, leading to East St Paul to the North Perimeter. While I have ridden my bicycle at night on this trail and generally have not too many issues, safety is a factor with minimal lighting currently, especially for female cyclists at night. Given the concerns of a female being assaulted on other unlit Winnipeg trails, the need to add more lighting on NEPG is critical for everyone’s safety. Adding lighting would cost at least $1 million from Chalmers to the North perimeter, according to a conversation I had with a City of Winnipeg official back in early 2021, most likely done through a capital budget (Hey Jason Schreyer, and Jeff Browaty are you listening?).

Last summer, the federal government announced their Active Transportation strategy, releasing $400 million to improve and expand active projects across Canada as a way to mitigate climate change and health concerns. Perhaps the city of Winnipeg should look at dipping its toes to get some funding to install low-cost LED solar paneled lights across the trail to the perimeter.

Beautifying the trail: Besides limited lighting, one challenge is to enhance the beauty of the NEPG further. While the trail is good, overall, I find its lacking places for shade, seating, and, yes, trees, is something that can be overcome. While some seats are scattered for relaxation and some shade, a few more points for benches along the trail will benefit NEPG for those who can not go on a long walk, especially when it’s hot out. Planting trees would also help green the trail while helping to reduce the heat island effect and facing heavy winds in the future. After all, planting trees on the trail would help the City of Winnipeg’s goal of planting a million trees, right?

Overall, the NEPG is an excellent trail. The benefits of its ease of accessibility to key points, quick snow clearing, and node to the working-class community override some of the challenges facing the NEPG, including improved lighting and beautifying the trail. The NEPG is a brick and motors trail representing one of the best examples of low-cost City of Winnipeg infrastructure this century. Buhler’s donation cost was $1.5 million to the city while city pavement costs were $150,000. The NEPG is a crucial aspect of our city’s active transportation network, which should be utilized in the Transportation Master Plan.

3.5 bicycles out of 5.

What do you think of the NEPG over 15 years on to its existence? What needs to be done to improve the trail moving forward? Drop me a line at on Twitter, Facebook or at adamjwpg@teksavvy.com

Categories
Miscellenous

Its Prediction time, 2022 Style


Now that 2022 is knocking on the door, its predictions time.

These predictions are not scientific. Rather, it’s a mixture of fun, gut feeling, and past situations.

I believe there will be many good stories that will come out this year that will surprise you. While other stories, I believe, will not be pretty. And others will begin to wind down (The pandemic).

So let’s go.

News

The COVID19 pandemic will continue right through 2022, with more contagious but less deadly variants, along with more medical options, including pills and more boosters to limit the risk. Expect restrictions periodically by provincial officials during waves. The World Health Organization will declare COVID19 an endemic in early 2023.

Don’t expect a Canadian federal election in 2022. The Liberals will survive 2022, with the NDP, Green Party, and occasionally the Bloc Quebecois propping them up on key policy including health, climate change, and the post COVID19 economic recovery. However, All roads lead to a non-confidence vote on the 2023 budget, leading to an early spring 2023 federal election.

On the Manitoba political scene, Heather Stefanson and the Progressive Conservatives (PCs) will be on the defensive for most of 2022 as she tries to limit the damage from her poor performance on COVID19 since taking over Brian Pallister. Although the PC’s did regain some of their polls back in the fall once Pallister left, there was no new leader bounce in the latest polls, including Winnipeg to the Manitoba NDP to the where they are trailing significantly. I would expect those polls to become a little closer as 2022 matures due to COVID19 winding down, tying it with voter shot-term memory of the PC’s poor handling of COVID. However, I believe that other topics have also sunken the Pcs including handling education, relations with Indigenous people, and climate. It will be hard for them to win the next provincial election. There is ideas a provincial election could be sooner than expected. Candidate nomination meetings have been held in anticipation. It’s not out of the realm a provincial election could happen in the early fall of 2022, but more likely late spring 2023. Regardless, Wab Kinew and the Manitoba NDP are looking to be in the prime pole for an extremely close election.

In nearly twenty years, the most significant Winnipeg civic election will see a slow yet much needed change on city council. Expect some game-changer candidates to win seats. As for who will replace Brian Bowman, that is anyone’s guess. While there is one declared candidate, Shaun Loney, expect a wide-open field where we could have the same situation from 2018 where there is 6-10 candidates running for the mayor’s chair, splitting votes. Posturing for a possible provincial election call will also impact who runs for council and who voters will vote for. Voter turnout is frequently low for Winnipeg municipal elections, with 2018 the lowest since 2006. I expect increased voter turnout compared to 2018 due to the wide-open mayoral race. While Winnipeg municipal voters have tended to vote more centre-right since the beginning of the 21st century, I expect it to change this election. More candidates will run on police reform, mitigating homelessness, tackling racism, and putting a climate lens on transportation (increasing public and active transportation investment) policy, giving voters more choice. Afterall, similar issues ran were winning issues in other municipal elections like active transportation. Will this change Winnipeg’s slow, steady as she goes attitude overnight? No, likely not. However, I believe this upcoming election will be the start of a shift towards 2-4 elections of the electorate becoming more progressive, as the city faces a post-COVID 19 recovery while looking at key climate action in the rear view mirror.

Expect extreme weather to continue to dominate in 2022 as climate change continues to be on the mind of people. This year, Manitoba’s drought will slowly ease, thanks to an increased snowpack. Don’t be surprised if we see another summer of at least 30 days of 30C temperatures again, along with frequent severe summer rainstorms in Winnipeg, causing flash flooding numerous times.

Sports

COVID19 and the Omnicron variant will continue to impact sports leagues in the first quarter of the year, causing postponed games in the NHL, NBA, and European soccer leagues. However, as the year rolls along, expect leagues to return to some normalcy. Thanks to the World Cup, the Canadian Premier League will see increases in attendance and the world recovering from COVID.

Canada will reach the World Junior hockey championship finals and just come short of winning gold.

The Los Angeles Rams will win the Super Bowl over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Canada will continue its dominance at the Winter Olympics, with at least 24 medals, with the Women’s ice hockey team winning gold, and men’s hockey team will win bronze.

Meanwhile, 2022 will be the year of soccer as Canada’s men will clinch a ticket to the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar in March on the last day, causing jubilant celebrations. Canada will win one game, draw one, and reach the knockout stage of the World Cup. They will be the 2022 Canadian Press team of the year.

The Canadian women’s soccer team will get through a tough CONCACAF Women’s Championship to qualify for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The Winnipeg Jets, for the first time since, 2017 will not make the playoffs or a play-in due to frequent inconsistency during the season. Interim coach Dave Lowry will be replaced, and Winnipeg will receive a high draft pick in the lottery.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will make the CFL playoffs for the sixth straight season and reach the CFL western final. Will they get the Grey Cup? Stay tuned.

Valour FC, lead by coach Phillip Dos Santos, will reach the Canadian Premier League playoffs for the first time, overtaking the final playoff spot over Halifax Wanderers, if they keep most of last years squad.

Professional basketball will return to Winnipeg for spring 2023 when the Canadian Elite Basketball League announces an expansion team in the fall of 2022. Thunder or Cyclone, anyone?

WWE will try to keep its Winnipeg base happy with a near sold out crowd for its Smackdown show in September with a loaded card. Meanwhile, my bold prediction is All Elite Wrestling will plan its first Canadian tour, with Winnipeg being featured for a Dynamite show either in late 2022 or early 2023, as it attempts to gain a foothold in the Canadian Market.

Categories
Miscellenous

Dear Canada: Embrace the Change


In a few short weeks is 2022, and the calendar will turn a new page.

While I know, many think the most significant sports stories will come from the Winter Olympics, particularly the Women’s and Men’s hockey teams if they win gold (becoming less more likely for the mens team as the NHL is not likely going to send players due to the COVID Omnicron surge. However, you may have to look beyond Beijing.

The biggest sports story could come from The Canadian mens national soccer team, possibly qualifying for the November Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Yep, that is correct. The Canadian men’s national soccer team is knocking on the door of reaching the biggest sporting event on the planet for the first time since 1986 as they are currently first with 16 points in CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying.

And this team was not built overnight.

After the team failed to qualify for another World Cup campaign, the team headed into the 2017 Gold Cup with teen sensation Alphonso Davies, a refugee from Ghana, born to Liberian parents, honed his skills in Edmonton. His inclusion inspired the team to reach the knockout stages, only to lose to Jamaica in the quarterfinals. Davies won the best young player in the tournament.

Fast forward to January 2018, with Canadian men’s coach Octavio Zambrano fired. Canadian Women’s head coach John Herdman took over the role with mixed reactions. However, he has been able to recruit the likes of Johnathan David and Stephen Eustáquio, to name a few.

The team reached the knockout stages of the 2019 Gold Cup, only to lose to Haiti in the quarterfinals. They did defeat the US that fall in the CONCACAF Nations League group stage play.

Despite the odd setback, they provided the building blocks for what was to come. Canada reached the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-finals to lose to Mexico 2-1. Meanwhile, the team has put the soccer world on notice. They defeated Mexico at home 2-1 in November on a frosty evening in Edmonton, putting them in the driver’s seat for qualification for the first time in 32 years.

If they do reach the World Cup, such an event would profoundly impact our sporting culture on many levels.

  1. Enhances Canada as a Multisport nation

Ok, maybe I am going slightly overboard here. The women’s team won the Olympic Gold medal this year. But the men’s team reaching the World Cup next year would start to rest a stigma that this country is only about hockey. Sure hockey is ingrained in our brains; however, that has changed over time, as millennials prefer soccer as their second sport to watch. Other winter countries have strong hockey and soccer programs. Ask Germany and Russia, whose countries consistently reach European Championships, World Cups while contending for Olympic hockey tournaments. Add to the rise of basketball here; we are fast becoming more than just ice hockey and winter sports.

  1. Proof that immigration makes our country stronger

Without immigration, there would be no Davies on our team. Without immigration, our World Cup hopes would be much slimmer Despite far right anti immigration sentiment falsely being spread thanks to the COVID19 pandemic, immigration plays a key role of us being a cultural mosaic. Qualification to next year’s world cup would be a testament to this.

  1. Having someone to look up to besides Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid.

Sidney Crosby has been the gold standard for Canadian sports idols as he has won numerous Stanley Cups and two Olympic gold hockey medals. The Edmonton Oilers Connor McDavid stock is on the rise. With the rise of Canada’s men’s soccer team, Davies, David, Larin are impacting the Canadian sports scene. No longer are kids starting to wish to be the next Crosby or McDavid. Instead, kids are becoming savvier in their sporting icons in a globalized sporting world and a multicultural country. Once they see these players reach the pinnacle of world soccer, more of them will want to kick the soccer ball around then hit the ice. More kids will dream of becoming the next Davies, David, then Crosby and McDavid.

Sure it’s early yet. Sure they still might disappoint us and not make it. Sure hockey will still be number one, but you can not deny the changing sporting landscape within Canada. And it will only continue to change as our country’s top professional league, the Canadian Premier League, gains legitimacy here and around the globe, attracting sponsors and supporters while improving the quality of play and providing a pool of Canadian players beyond 2022. After all, we have the 2026 World Cup to look forward to.

Canadian soccer has arrived. Embrace the change.