Add to the fact that another recent IPCC report earlier this year AGAIN with a final warning that we need to dramatically cut our emissions or face the risks of a scorching planet seems almost game over, right?
Sure, it sounds like the banks have given up on climate solutions. The Royal Bank gave US $42B in financing to fossil fuel companies in 2022. Energy companies, well, let’s not go there. BP is planning on doubling 2023 gas and oil investments vs. renewables. Lovely.
We need to engage the public more, not just in supporting cleaner technologies but in systematic change that will make sustainability accessible for all. This includes, as mentioned above, improved active and public transportation networks and opportunities for community renewable energy projects like solar gardens and small-scale wind farms.
We must do a better job of engaging with our Indigenous community during the climate crisis. We need to support them to lift them out of poverty by developing accessible housing, entrepreneurial opportunities in the sustainability sectors, and helping build our public and active transportation networks in mature neighborhoods, including the core area.
We also need to encourage more indigenous leadership in our environmental non-profit organizations by getting out in the community and facilitating those to volunteer on committees and boards. We all win when we offer greater engagement and opportunities for Indigenous peoples to be involved more in the decision-making process at the community level. We need to jump over the systematic problems to reach this.
Despite many problems, This is the hope I see, and this is the hope I want for our city. We owe it to ourselves and our community.
Millions tune into the escapades of World Wrestling Entertainment and All Elite Wrestling on Television each week. With the likes of Roman Reigns, Cody Rhodes, MJF, and Chris Jericho gracing our weekly screens. With engaging storylines and action, the colorful world of professional wrestling tugs at our heartstrings.
While some may think that professional wrestling being scripted is inaccurate (it’s natural to us folks who invest our time and money), here are a few reasons why we love it.
We live vicariously through wrestlers serving up motivational inspiration
Whether its Cody Rhodes battling through a torn pec muscle to beat Seth Rollins last year at the 2022 WWE Hell in a Cell to Adam Hang Man Page winning the AEW World championship from Winnipeg’s own Kenny Omega at Full Gear in 2021, we often see our trials and tribulations through pro wrestlers as they battle it out in the squared circle. These storylines can often inspire many who may be down in their lives. When we see Cody Rhodes battle a gnarly torn pec to beat Seth Rollins or Adam Page, go through a two-year storyline of facing more downs than ups to capture the AEW World title to go on a six and half-month run with the belt (before losing to CM Punk at Double or Nothing). Once again, we can overcome adversity with a little effort and determination. Want more proof? Check out Johnny Gargano’s first-ever WWE NXT title win, which he chased for several years before hitting the promised land at NXT Takeover New York 2019. As Eric Thomas once said, “At the end of pain is success”. Professional wrestling shows that we all must endure pain and adversity to reach our goals.
A place to escape from the insanity of today’s world
Pandemics, climate change, and the lingering threat of global conflict. Yep. That’s how it rolls in today’s world. So what is the perfect antidote to the chaos of today’s world? Why not shut off your brain for a few hours and watch people pretend to beat the snot out of each other? After all, even politically engaged people like myself need every once in a while to shut off the craziness of the natural world to enjoy the best of theatre, sports, and drama all wrapped into one. Pro wrestling has provided some genuinely underappreciated storytelling, including the one-year story arch with Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens defeating the Usos and becoming the WWE’s undisputed tag team championships. As Impractical Jokers star Sal Vulcano told the Tampa Bay Times, pro wrestling provides theatre, escapism, and athleticism at its best. Vulcano also said pro wrestling does not take itself seriously “while completely taking itself completely seriously.” After all, chuck your brain at the door is a good thing, every once in a while, to recharge your batteries on the battlefield of life.
Pro wrestling gets critics who say it’s lame, childish, and over the top. Some say adults who watch pro wrestling have not grown up. That is just false. From providing inspirational, motivational messages to a place of sanctuary from the physical and mental brutality of the 21st Century, pro wrestling offers us hope, imagination, and belief. All three are in short supply, and something wrestling can replenish our souls.
While most people consider In reality, if you’re a meteorologist, Spring is March 1st. But if you are a North American soccer fan, I will think the “unofficial” start to Spring is February 25th, when Major League Soccer kicks off (at least it gives me something to watch until Valour FC starts April, right?).
But this Spring will mean a lot more than watching soccer, and it means more than cycling everywhere (yes, that ranks near the top). But instead, as the grass and flowers grow, it means clean-up time.
No, it does not just mean cleaning the garage, tossing the garbage into the can, recycling bin, or using items to the thrift shop. Instead, it means cleaning up some other things.
Cleaning is a right of passage. Spring and the holiday season are the two times for reflection and cleaning. A time for hope and change. Change is something we, at least once in our existence, yearning at least once, if not more. You learn when the glass is half full. It’s time to think carefully, and you have done your part; consider the landscape and grasp what you want. Nothing more. Nothing less. And that can be a good thing.
The days are getting longer, and the days will get warmer. The days of dealing with insanity will melt away like a slow March thaw. In that, itself will be something to cherish.
Sure, it’s February 1st. But Spring is on its way, and let’s march to it.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Now may I tell you something truthful. Something that can lead to the path of sustainable transportation enlightenment.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.