June 21, 2013 2:24 pm

Bombers overhaul game-day transit and parking plan

Winnipeg Blue Bombers vice president Jim Bell and Winnipeg Transit director Dave Wardrop at a news conference on June 21, 2013

Dan Grummett

The transportation plan for Winnipeg Blue Bomber games has been completely overhauled in the wake of last week’s traffic-jam fiasco on the way to Investors Group Field: including dedicated bus lanes, police directing traffic, and more than double the number of buses for the Bombers first regular season game June 27th.

Officials from the football club and Winnipeg Transit announced the new plans Friday afternoon. The Bombers said a working group of 24 people from several agencies was set up to “explore all potential solutions and enhancements.”

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Hundreds of transit riders were left waiting at park and ride locations, after the club and Transit underestimated the number of buses needed. The new plan calls for 150 buses, up from the 61 used last time. The buses will have their own dedicated lanes, rather than being stuck in traffic. Transit says it will be prepared to carry up to 12,000 fans to the game, compared to the 8500 that showed up for bus rides to the first pre-season game. There will also be more Park & Ride locations.

“We believe that with these enhancements that we’re putting into place, no question we’re going to make improvements.” said Jim Bell, Blue Bombers Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.

“This is a work in progress.”

Police officers will also be hired to direct traffic; up to ten officers could be involved. More parking attendants will be on hand at the University of Manitoba to help drivers find their way to spots.

The traffic fiasco completely overshadowed this historic opening of Investors Group Field on June 12th. Thousands of fans missed the opening kick off and spent hours sitting in traffic.

“I left my house at 4:30 (p.m.) and we got to our parking spot at quarter after 7:00.” Said Dave Nicol, a long time Blue Bombers season ticket holder.

Food concessions were very slow because staff also had trouble getting through traffic to report for work.

Friday’s announcement was detailed on the football club’s website:

1.   Significantly Increased Transit Capacity:

  • Significantly more buses at Park & Ride locations
  • Buses will depart once they are full with another ready to begin loading right after
    • Extra buses will enhance regular transit service including on the University Super Express (route 161)

2.   Dedicated Special Event Bus-Only Lanes

3.   Winnipeg Police Service at Key Intersections:

  • To helpdirect traffic, officers will be located at key intersections

4.   Earlier Access to Campus and Stadium on June 27:

  • Gates open and on campus parking starts at 5:00 p.m.
  • Fans are asked to be in their seats by 7:15 p.m.
  • Nationally-televised Official Opening Ceremony begins at 7:30 p.m. sharp
  • Kickoff is at 8:00 p.m.

5.   Improved On Campus Parking Process:

  • The number of parking attendants will double as will the amount of signage. This will be coupled with directional merge lanes and the simultaneous filling of on campus parking lots
  • Parking passes must be visible on rear view mirror before fans enter campus and remain hanging throughout the game

6.   More Parking “Booster” Lots along Pembina:

7.   Expanded Bike Valet:

  • The secure, monitored bike valet will expand from 400 to about 650 spots. It is located at the north end of the stadium.

Also resulting from these stakeholder discussions, details on a customized plan for the Taylor Swift concert were discussed earlier this week.  Check outwww.investorsgroupfield.ca/concerts/ for full details.

“Among the many things we learned since our Exhibition game is that each event has unique needs that require some customization,” said Bell.  “As a result, we have created separate web pages for Concerts and Blue Bombers onwww.investorsgroupfield.ca. We encourage fans to check out the exact event they plan to attend as details will vary.”

He pointed to the need to provide Taylor Swift fans with large drop-off zones – a very different requirement than what is needed for Blue Bomber games.

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