Winnipeg Transit proposing major service, route cuts after city caps budget

A Winnipeg Transit bus. Shane Gibson/Global News

Winnipeg Transit is proposing significant service cuts after its budget was capped at a two per cent increase by Mayor Brian Bowman and his executive policy committee.

Transit officials gave a multi-year budget presentation to city council’s public work and infrastructure committee Wednesday.

To fit within the two per cent target, Transit would need to reduce its operating budget in 2020 by $5.8 million; by $5.5 million in 2021; by $8.4 million in 2022; and $9.2 million in 2023.

Those budget cuts would lead to a slew of service reductions and cuts, according to the budget presentation.

READ MORE: Winnipeg police chief hints at officer cuts with new proposed budget

In 2020 alone, Winnipeg Transit says it would cut its free Downtown Spirit bus service and its DART bus service, reduce bus and shelter maintenance and axe its community grants. It would also reduce its advertising budget and stop printing paper schedules, which are distributed to libraries and other public centres.

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The limit would require that the transit authority keep its fleet on the road longer — rather than retiring its buses after 18 years of service, it would run them through 21 years of service.

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg transit union calls for more buses'
Winnipeg transit union calls for more buses

The more significant cuts would start in 2021.

Winnipeg Transit would end its weekday and Saturday bus service at 12:15 a.m. — current final service leaves downtown at 1:38 a.m — and end peak hour service at 5:45 p.m.

READ MORE: Winnipeg city council to discuss extending transit transfer times to three hours

It would also begin “widespread service rationalization”, the presentation reads, which would mean shuttering or reducing neighbourhood routes that feed onto major arteries.

Some neighbourhoods wouldn’t have any feeder route service at all, while some passengers would have to walk farther to their stop, Bjorn Radstrom, transit’s service development manager said during the presentation.

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It projects $227.17 million in operating and capital expenditures in 2020, but the capped expenditure recommendations leave its draft budget at $205.8 million.

Click to play video: 'University of Manitoba Labour Studies professor David Camfield talks about Winnipeg Transit contract negotiations'
University of Manitoba Labour Studies professor David Camfield talks about Winnipeg Transit contract negotiations

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