Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The loser cruiser

This comment came to me from the venerable University of Winnipeg history professor, Garin Burbank, in response to an earlier post:

"I am the only middle or upper class person, dressed in coat and tie, riding the express buses in from west Winnipeg. Have been for 20 years. Until you get the comfortable classes out of their cars (5 dollars per litre gas?), we will have ugly surface lots."

While transit service became more costly but less frequent in those 20 years, the City continued every effort to make the downtown workforce drive and park their automobile as easily and as cheaply as possible, which is why Professor Burbank finds himself alone aboard the loser cruiser, and one of the reasons why downtown's landscape is so barren.


Blogger ecodesigner said...

riding my bike this morning, I gazed astonishingly at the single occupancy car drivers slowly plodding, one red-lit intersection at a time, in to work along south osborne. every car trolled by with a lonely looking person, absorbed in their lonely pseudo stressed looking thoughts. to me, that is the loser cruiser.

6:24 PM  
Blogger gord said...

People still wear coats and ties? I refuse to wear a tie, and a coat is only practical in warmer cold weather. I consider myself to be middle class.

Seriously, does one anecdote now make a blog post? Surely there must be data on how many of the middle class take the bus. Transit share has been increasing. Is that only because the lower classes are expanding? Check the bus stop outside the Hydro building on Graham at 4pm. I think you'll see evidence to the contrary.

6:43 PM  
Blogger The Rise and Sprawl said...

In the corporate world (even in little old Winnipeg) jacket and tie is still the standard dress for males. I recognize that this rule does not apply to the public servants and crown corp. employees, which comprise the bulk of Winnipeg's middle class.

It was an interesting anecdote from a respected source that I thought was a telling illustration of many Winnipegger's refusal to use transit.

I post about what I want, thanks.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Occasioanally I take the #64 from my work (downtown) to a family members house. I catch it at 5:18 pm (a fairly standard end of workday time)...and there are approximately 10 people on the bus by the time it gets to its final destination.
I do believe that there are many more downtown workers living in the neighborhood where the #64 ends that COULD be on the bus, but are not.

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Sophia said...

An anecdote about getting a slurpee one afternoon probably makes a blog post for some.
This anecdote reminds me about a sustainable transportation forum I attended a couple years ago just before a budget announcement at the Legislature. This might even be more than couple years ago because the Rapid Transit Coalition wasn't formed and it was where I first met Paul Hesse. The response where was that people still have a lot of preconceived notions about what riding a bus is. People still don't feel "safe". It is no doubt that a lot of middle-aged people with their cushy jobs will never consider public transit. Sadly, is only old age, humility and affordability that will change the general thought of riding the bus to work.

On the flipside, ridership for MB Hydro employees most definitely had to increase because of the relocaiton downtown. This was noted at a presentation held by the chief architect. I'm not sure how the response has been for that, but I am well aware that is a great office space and work environment for people to work in. It is also a wonderful example of a great building information modelling process, and a process that should be carried over to future public transportation plans.

2:18 PM  
Anonymous Sophia said...

*Sorry: on the anecdote opening, this is simplicity as it's best. We don't need a full-fledged academic paper to get a message across. There are many good ways to engage.

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

luckily the "corporate world" doesn't make up most of the working world.

11:11 PM  
Blogger Warren du Plooy said...

I bike up St. Mary's Rd to downtown most mornings, passing 200-300 cars idling in traffic. There's no bike lane until downtown, so I stay on the road unless I'm blocked, in which case I use the sidewalk, which has about 1 person per 500m using it. I could use the 'bike boulevard' route that adds about 3km to my 6km trip. BTW, school divisions significantly subsidize employee parking, which encourages about 15,000 teachers to drive.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps downtown employers should stop subsidizing parking spaces for their employees and provide cost sharing for eco-passes. I used to drive downtown everyday and then lost my spot for a while. Once I started taking the bus I realized how nice it was to get to work in a relaxed state not having to deal with drivers putting on thier make up or talking or texting. I now choose transit over my car because environmentally it makes more sense than putting myself behind 2000lbs of metal and using precious natural resources for one person.

7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a professional earning a very good salary, and I ride the bus every day, both to and from work and to meetings in and around the city centre (i.e. beyond just the downtown). The guy you quoted must not be looking too closely because I see many people in professional clothes on the bus. There are many women dressed in very nice office clothes and men not only in shirts and ties, but also in the "middle-aged professional guy" uniform of khakis and a golf shirt.

@Gord: I agree completely. There are lots of professionals catching the bus on Graham and Portage every day.

@anonymous: The number of people who ride a bus to its final destination is almost meaningless (unless the final destination is something major like the UofM). On any route anywhere in the world, most people don't go all the way to the end of the line. My experience on the 64 has been that it is very busy.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Mike Page said...

Riding the bus in Winnipeg is a class issue. It's much different from the transit systems in, say, Toronto. Rich and poor alike ride the subway and no one thinks twice about it. For some reason, Winnipeg has this cultural mindset that riding the bus means lowering your status in society. We need to change the mindset of the average car riding Winnipeger. We need to stop giving incentives for people to use the car. The bus isn't so bad people! I like to think of it as extra leisure time in my busy day. Read the paper, have a nap! Why would people rather be staring ass end of another car for an hour a day?

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the class issue comparison ... classic Winnipeg.

I work at Portage and Main. I rode the bus for several years but do not anymore. The main reason I do not ride the bus is simple... Convenience vs. Cost.

My wife and I car pool. Share the parking space cost + gas + autopac (which I am paying anyways) and the cost of transit is $25 more per month. Add in the fact that my wife or myself want to go somewhere after work once or twice a week and it is way cheaper to drive than ride the bus.

11:09 PM  
Blogger Mike Page said...

Maybe that is the problem...It's too cheap to justify getting out of your car in this city. The Convenience vs. Cost reason is true. In Toronto, it costs 2.75 to ride transit and around $20 day to park downtown.Most people choose transit. I still stand by my class issue comparison. While it's not true of everyone's reasoning in not taking the bus, even if it were free, many Winnipeggers still wouldn't step foot on the 'Loser Cruiser'.

12:55 PM  

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