Friday, March 8, 2013

Route 15 Mountain (Church, Inkster, Fife)

In January I took Route #15 Sargent Airport from downtown to the Richardson International Airport. Today I am riding the other half of the route, from downtown to Mountain (Church, Inkster, Fife). I get on the bus on Portage Avenue across from Portage Place. There are only a couple of seats left and it is standing room only by the time we go two stops to Portage and Fort. The bus is about 7 minutes late which may explain why there are so many people waiting at each stop.

At Portage and Main the bus heads north toward City Hall and the Centennial Concert Hall. At Main St and McDermot Ave I notice the "Fox & Fiddle."  It opened last fall in the glorious old Bank of Toronto Building. It is so inviting, I am tempted to hop off the bus and go in.....but I don't.

Just past City Hall on the west side of  Main St. is Yuki Sushi in the McLaren Hotel. I have eaten there, and the sushi is great.

Continuing along I see The Neon Factory. They make neon signs and collect "artifacts" of Winnipeg's past.  If you ever stop in at The Neon Factory you will find the old dairy cows from the Salter Street Billboard,  the old Starland sign from Main and Logan, the famous Shanghai Restaurant signage as well as some of the restaurant's interior and the old Winnipeg Turkish Baths sign and Blue Note Cafe Sign.

We pass Thunderbird House at Higgins and Main. I can see the Aboriginal Centre just up Higgins Avenue in what was once the Canadian Pacific Railway Station in Winnipeg.

The Higgins Underpass
Just on the other side of the Higgins under pass is Mitchell's Fabrics. This is another Winnipeg institution. It has been in business since 1946. Sewers come from all over the Province to shop there. You can find everything from upholstery fabrics to wedding fabrics...and everything in between.
This stretch of Main Street has quite a few pawn shops. I notice Atlas Pawn, Main Street Pawn and Economy Pawn Shop but my favourite is Pawndora's Box.  Great name for a pawn shop.

The Neechi Foods Co-op in the Neechi Commons refurbished building looks great. It will have its grand opening a little later this month.

I am really jammed into my seat because the bus is so full. This makes it hard to take notes or pictures. I wish I could get a picture of this brightly painted building. It is The Fish Gallery - Tropical and Salt Water Fish. The sign says they breed fish. This video gives you an idea of the various fish they have in stock.

A few blocks down on the other side of the street is Bird Shop - another brightly painted building. I guess this part of Main Street is the place to come if you are looking for fish or bird pets.

We also pass Mount Carmel Clinic and OATS - Opiate Addictions Treatment Centre

Just before turning on Mountain we pass  Holy Trinity Ukranian Orthodox Cathedral.  It always fascinates me. You can see those onion domes from quite a distance.

Next door to the Cathedral is St. John's Park. This park is part of the group of four parks that were founded in 1893...the first city parks in Winnipeg.
This is an old postcard shows an early view of St John's Park.
A lot of the route I am riding today is in what is known as The North End.  Once we turn off Main Street on to Mountain, we are in an area of small houses and corner groceries. Many ethnic groups are reflected in the signs along the way.  I see the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo St Mary Church. I learn so many things by riding the bus! Check out their video on You Tube. At over 5 minutes it is way too long. But a minute or so will give you an idea. The music is very interesting.

The bus crosses Salter, Arlington, McGregor and McPhillips before it turns on Fife. The bus turns on Church, then Keewatin and back to Fife. This is an industrial area with lots of signs advertising warehouse space for rent and empty lots for sale. We pass The Winnipeg Sun, Sears Warehouse, Coca Cola (now hiring). I am the only one on the bus for much of this part of the route. Most people got off just before we crossed McPhillips.  Once we get back on Mountain, we pick up a passenger at almost every bus stop. But heading back to downtown Winnipeg the bus is not as full as it was leaving the downtown. 

We turn on Main Street and follow the same route to Portage Avenue and Portage Place Shopping Mall. 

The bus driver today is very courteous. He stops at least 4 times to wait for people who are running to catch the bus. 

NEXT: Route 20 - Downtown to Watt - the other half of the route I took to the airport. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cold Weather Courtesy

I have been a regular bus rider for many years and it seems to me that our bus drivers are more courteous when we have sever cold weather. During Winnipeg's recent cold snap with -30 wind chills, I noticed several examples of this phenomenon.

I was on the #17 bus and we were just pulling away from the stop at the corner of Sherbrook Street and Westminster Ave when the bus stopped part way through the intersection blocking the crosswalk. I wondered why and looked out the window to see what was happening. Coming along the sidewalk beside the Sherbrook Inn was a man I have seen many times on the bus. My guess is that he has suffered a stroke at some point because one side of his body just doesn't work. He walks extremely slowly, shuffling his feet. He is so slow he almost looks like he is walking in place. He looks like he could tip over at any moment. He carries a cane to help with balance. The driver patiently waited for this man to reach the bus and slowly get on. As he usually does, the man stood at the front of the bus, holding on with his good arm. I thought, good for you bus driver.
The Sherbrook Inn

On another trip (again on the #17 bus) with a different driver, the bus had just dropped off a passenger in front of Crossways In Common at Broadway and Furby. As the bus was proceeding through the pedestrian corridor, a woman on the sidewalk began to wave and point to the other side of the street. A woman with a stroller and two young children was just coming to the crosswalk. The bus couldn't stop where it was, so the driver waved to the woman and continued through the crosswalk to find a place to stop. There were large snowbanks on the side of the road which would have made it impossible for the woman to get on the bus from the sidewalk. The driver stopped far enough out from the snowbanks that the woman, with her children and the stroller could walk between the bus and the snowbank to reach the bus door. The driven even got down from his seat and got out of the bus to help the woman get the stroller on the bus. Nice.
Crossways In Common
On a cold evening, around 6:00 PM, I was riding the #20 bus along Academy Road. The driver slowed as he approached the stop at Wilton St. and since no one had signaled they wanted to get off, and there was no one standing at the stop he began to accelerate. Suddenly a man came running toward the stop waving. It was too late for the bus to stop at the designated stop. The driver slowed and tried to find a place to stop where the man could get on the bus. Again the snowbanks along the road were a problem. He did find a spot and waited for the man to catch up with the bus. Another courteous driver.

Some drivers are helpful, friendly and courteous all the time. Others, not so much. I just want to acknowledge those who make a special effort when the weather is really miserable and if you miss the bus, it is a cold wait for the next one.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Getting to the Airport by Bus

The question today is: which is the best bus to take to the James Richardson International Airport:? The answer of course is, it depends.

There have been several occasions when I have been waiting for the bus on Graham Avenue at Donald Street when people have gotten on the #20 Watt-Academy-Airport bus with suitcases to go to the airport (or perhaps the Greyhound Terminal). Even though the bus says AIRPORT, it does not go directly to the airport. The #15 Sargent-Airport goes directly to the airport from downtown. You can catch the #15 on Portage Avenue, just a block away. I have always wondered why people would choose to take the #20 instead of the #15. Last Thursday I took both routes.

If you start from downtown Winnipeg, the fastest, most direct route to the airport is to take the #15 Sargent bus. It takes about 18 minutes from the stop in front of Portage Place to reach the airport (via Sargent and Flight Road). I got on the #15 Sargent-Airport via Flight Road at 10:00 am. The bus headed west down Portage Avenue and turned north on Vaughan Street at the Staples end of Portage Place. From there the bus took a little jog east on Ellice Ave and turned north on Kennedy St. This is a high-density housing area lined with apartment blocks. After a short 3 block run on Kennedy, the bus turned on Sargent at Sister MacNamara School.

I think you can find just about any kind of food you want on Sargent Avenue. Between Balmoral and Ingersol, we passed Ethiopian,Thai, Philippine, Vietnamese and Korean restaurants, not to mention Dairy Queen (closed for the season!) and Subway! We also passed Viena do Castelo (Portuguese Food Store) Lisbon Bakery and Morden's chocolates and X-Cues (still my favourite place for Cappuccino). 

A little further down Sargent we passed the Cindy Klassen Recreation Centre (where you can actually find Cindy working out at times!) and the Susan Auch Speed Skating Oval and the Valour Road Memorial.

Cindy Klassen Recreation Centre
We continued down Sargent passing SuperStore and Rona and came to the intersection with Century (Route 90 North). The #15 Sargent alternates between turning on Century to Wellington and the airport, and continuing on Sargent and turning on Flight Road before connecting with Wellington at the airport. I was on the Flight Road bus. This route passed Standard Aero, Air Canada Cargo and Purolator. We pulled into the bus stop at the airport at 10:18 AM. There was a #20 bus sitting there waiting. The #15 Sargent sat at the airport for about 5 minutes before  returning to downtown. About a block from the airport the bus stoped at the Greyhound Terminal.
The Greyhound Bus Terminal viewed from the bus stop across the street.
 When you check Navigo Trip Planner, it suggests that if you are going to the Greyhound terminal, you get off the bus at the airport and walk.

After returning downtown, I walked from Portage Avenue to Graham Avenue to catch the #20 Watt- Academy-Airport bus by the Manitoba Hydro Building.
The bus stop outside the Hydro the summer.
I got the bus at about 11:12 AM. This bus followed the same route as the #17 Miserecordia (covered in my first post). We went down Graham to The Bay, turned south and took Memorial to Broadway and the Manitoba Legislature, then followed Broadway West to Maryland. At Maryland and Wolseley at the Miserecordia Health Centre the # 20 continued across the Maryland Bridge where it turned west on Academy Road. At the intersection of Academy and Stafford we passed Kelvin High School. Check this link to see all the well-know former students, including Neil Young.

Academy Road alternates between residential and business sections with shops and restaurants. There are gourmet food stores, women's clothing stores, European Shoes, and many restaurants. At the corner of Academy and Centennial there is a little haven for those with gluten allergies/intolerance. You can get gluten-free pizza at Pizza 21st Century and get great tacos right next door at Modern Taco. As I headed to the airport those stores were on the opposite side of Academy. I just got a quick glimpse as the bus turned to cross the Assiniboine River on the St James Bridge. We immediately turned off to join Portage Avenue across from Polo Park Shopping Centre. The bus took the overpass to cross Portage Avenue and turned on to Empress Street.

Along Empress the bus stopped at the Chapters shopping area.  You could also get off the bus here to go to Silver City Polo Park for a movie. There are several big box stores and other commercial operations all along Empress. At Wellington we turned west to get to the airport, passing the "still new to me" Canada Post operations. It opened in June 2010. 
Canada Post Sorting Plant - Winnipeg
 We arrived at the James Richardson International Airport at 11:47 AM. That makes it a 35 minute trip to the airport. It is almost twice as long as taking the #15 Sargent bus. (35 minutes versus 18 minutes = 17 minutes more for the #20 Watt-Academy-Airport) This bus waited at the bus stop about 15 minutes before making the return trip to downtown. It also stopped at the Greyhound Terminal.

Which is the best bus to take to the depends on where you are starting. If you are downtown close to Main Street or Portage Avenue, the #15 Sargent is definitely quicker, and it runs more often than the #20. If you live in River Heights in the vicinity of Academy Road, the #20 is your best bus bet. If you live in St James you can transfer at Polo Park to the #20 to get to the airport. I would suggest that you enter your information into Navigo to get the best route. However, when I chose Smith Street as my departure point and put the airport as my destination, I got 4 choices. Two of those choices were the #15 Sargent bus. One suggestion was the #20 Watt-Academy, and the last choice was to take #21 Portage bus to Polo Park and transfer to the #20 there. While these last two choices will take you to the airport, they are not the quickest or most direct routes.

We may have sub-zero temperatures and brutal wind chills here in Winnipeg, but it doesn't stop our creativity. On my walk to the bus I saw this creative use of the snow piled up beside the road: an inuksuk

NEXT:  The Route #20 from downtown to Watt and the Route #15 from downtown to Mountain: the other half of each of the routes in today's post.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Part Two: Route 78 Crosstown West - Cambridge

Now that the holidays are over, it is time for me to get back to riding the bus. On December 1, 2012, I took the Route 78 Crosstown West to IKEA and the University of Manitoba. The #78 alternates between taking Kenaston Boulevard to get to the University of Manitoba, and taking Corydon Avenue/ Cambridge Street/Waverley Street.  It is time to get on the #78 Crosstown - Cambridge.

Once again I start my ride at the Polo Park Transit Loop. The bus arrives about 7 minutes early. There are already about 10 people waiting. We all get on the bus and I notice that most of the passengers look like university students. While we are waiting, the driver uses the time to clean some of the windows on the bus. With the recent warm weather, the roads in Winnipeg are very wet, and the bus windows are spattered with slush. I am not going to try to take any pictures through those windows. If I add any photos they will have to come from the web.

The first part of the route; leaving Polo Park and crossing the Assiniboine River and taking Kenaston Boulevard south, are the same as I reported on in my last post.  Things change as we approach Corydon. The bus moves over to the left lane to turn east on Corydon. 

Corydon is an interesting blend of residential and shopping areas. Within a few blocks of the turn, we come to Corydon Village Mall and shopping area on both sides of Corydon at Lanark St. You can enjoy a great deli meal at Bernsteins's Deli, decorate pottery at Brush Fire, or get some Italian food at Mona Lisa Ristorante (they make their own Calabrese sausage).

As we approach Waterloo Street, we come to another shopping area. Bonfire Bistro (one of my favourite restaurants), The Paper Gallery, and The Greek Market (great food to take home) are some of the highlights.
An older photo of Bonfire Bistro. It has since taken over the space of the store on the left.

The Greek Market moussaka is delicious.

Some of the great dishes available for take out at The Greek Market .
I should mention that starting from the time the bus turned on to Corydon, there has been standing room only on the bus. We are picking up passengers at each bus stop on Corydon and Cambridge. I haven't been on such a crowded bus at 10:30 in morning before. This is more like a rush hour crowd. I guess a lot of people have later classes.  I want to take a picture, but I am so wedged into my seat that I can't get my camera out without dropping my notebook!

There is a Park and Ride stop at Cambridge and Grant Avenue. More passengers get on here. The bus turns west on Taylor Avenue and comes to the Taylor and Waverley intersection. This is the home of La Grotta Mediterranean Market; a place to pick up Italian food to take home, plus wine, fruit, vegetables and other groceries.

The route is very straight-forward from here.  We follow Waverley Street South  to the intersection with Scurfield Boulevard. From here on the route is the same as the #78 Crosstown - Kenaston which was covered in the Dec1 post.

The Cambridge route is a little more direct to the University of Manitoba. It takes 12 minutes less to reach the University than riding the Kenaston route ( 37 minutes versus 49 minutes). The Cambridge route is much busier serving the residential area of River Heights. I admit I did have to hop off the bus on the way home and pick up some moussaka and Greek salad from the Greek Market! Riding the bus does work up an appetite. I was able to get a #18 bus to get home since they come more often than the #78.

NEXT: I think it is time for a trip to the Richardson International Airport by bus. Which route is best: the #20 or the #15?  I"ll let you know.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Route 78 Crosstown West - Getting to IKEA

Winnipeg's first IKEA store opened at 9:00 AM on Wednesday, November 28 at Kenaston Boulevard and Sterling Lyon Parkway. I have been wondering if it is possible to get there on the bus. Using the Winnipeg Transit NAVIGO trip planner system, I have inserted several different origins for the trip (St. Vital, Pembina Highway, Downtown, St. James, North Main Street, Henderson Highway, Maryland) all trying to get to Kenaston @ Sterling Lyon Parkway as the destination. There is only one way to get there....connect to the #78 Crosstown West.**  Just as it was with the #29 Sherbrook that I rode last week, this route is really two routes, one using Kenaston to reach the University of Manitoba, the other going down Corydon to Cambridge to Waverley Street. They are indicated as Kenaston or Cambridge on the schedule. Weekdays during the morning rush hour there are 2-3 Cambridge buses for every 1 Kenaston bus. During the off peak hours, they simply alternate. This means that the Kenaston bus leaves Polo Park every 42 minutes. So if you miss the one you want, you have a long wait. There is no service after 7:00 PM. On Saturday the buses to Kenaston run every 70 minutes; there is no Sunday service. I guess the staff at IKEA have to have cars to get to work.

To check out the Route 78 Crosstown - Kenaston. I arrive at Polo Park to catch the 10:01 bus. The bus arrives early and sits at the Polo Park Transit loop. Several young people who look like they could be university students get on the bus. I ask the driver if the bus stops at Kenaston and Sterling Lyon and he smiles, laughs and says, "Oh, yes. We stop at IKEA." He tells me that the IKEA is on the west side of Kenaston.

The bus pulls out on to Portage Avenue and crosses St James Street. Then it takes the on-ramp to Route 90 South (Kenaston). The new fire station being built on the cloverleaf at Portage and Route 90 is really big. It will be interesting to see how it will affect traffic when the emergency vehicles have to pull out right into the on-ramp traffic.
(The roads were slushy so the spattered windows made it hard to take photos.)
  On Kenaston we cross Tuxedo, Corydon and Grant and pass the Manitoba Youth Centre and the former Canadian Forces Base and all those small houses that used to be part of base housing. Even before we get to Taylor Avenue, I can see the very tall IKEA sign. Wow, it is really tall...and big .

The bus is a little early so it sits at Taylor for a minute or two before moving on to Sterling Lyon Parkway. I have a very nice bus driver and we start to chat about the limited service on this route. He says that they added more buses a little while ago and that maybe they will add more now that IKEA is open. I tell him that I am riding the bus and writing a blog. He asks if I ever write about the drivers! I said he would be mentioned in this post.

As I get off the bus, I am joined by four of the young people on the bus who all work at IKEA. They also wish there were more buses. One young woman missed the earlier bus so she is now going to be late for work. The store opens at 10:00 and it is now 10:15. For an average walker it takes about 4 minutes to get from the bus stop to the store. You have to climb a small hill up to the parking lot, and then it is a long walk to the store entrance at the far end of the building.

So, you can get to IKEA on the bus. The sidewalks have been cleared of snow, but not too well.  I don't know if there will be a pathway or sidewalk up the small hill to the parking lot, or if it will be landscaped once the snow is gone. And I wonder how easy it will be to get up that hill as we get more snow.

After a short stop at the store (making 3 small purchases and using the self-service check out), I am back at the bus stop with time to spare to get the next #78 to continue the route to the University of Manitoba.

The simple part of the route is over. Now things get complicated. The route not only meanders here, there and everywhere, the scenery is also less than exciting. This bus services the shopping and industrial park areas along this part of Kenaston. The bus turns  left and continues along Lowson Crescent industrial area until it meets Rothwell which takes the bus across Kenaston into the Tuxedo Industrial Park where it turns around and heads back onto Kenaston. Then it turns left again onto Lindenwood Drive East and the big box/outlet stores located in this area. The bus finally comes out of this area at McGillivray Boulevard and the new Cineplex Odeon McGillivray and VIP Cinemas.

The bus stays on McGillivray and crosses Kenaston and then finally turns at Columbia Drive and follows that all the way to Scurfield Boulevard.  It does a jog through the West Fort Gary Industrial area passing the Winnipeg Technical College and the Pembina Trails School Division offices. Finally we join up with Waverly Street. But not for long. The bus turns on Bishop Grandin Boulevard and heads to Pembina Highway. We join Pembina near University Crescent. But the bus does not take the University Crescent route to the University. Instead we stay on Pembina Highway until we reach Bison Drive and Chancellor Matheson Drive. Along the way we pass Victoria General Hospital and lots of shopping areas.

As we enter the campus, I am again struck by the size of the new Blue Bomber Football Stadium.The arches are so high they really dominate the view from this side of the campus. At last we arrive at the University of Manitoba Bus Station. I decide that I just can't take that long wandering route back to Polo Park (a 49 minute ride and I would still have to transfer to another bus to get home!). So I get off the bus to wait 5 minutes fort the #36 Northwest Super Express which will take me within 2 blocks of home in just 20 minutes! While I am waiting I notice the new ARTlab building that connects to Tache Hall.

I get on the #36 and since it is an express, it only stops once on Pembina Highway between the University and the turn onto Stafford Street (at the Salisbury House). To reward myself I get off at Stella's Bakery on Sherbrook Street for a treat before heading home.

It should be noted that while the final destination of the #78 Crosstown West is The University of Manitoba, it is not the best, fastest or easiest way to get to the U of M from Polo Park. I think the easiest way would be to take an Express bus (#21, #24 or #22) to Portage and Maryland to transfer to the #36 Northwest Super Express. Or depending on the timing, take an Express to downtown Winnipeg and transfer to the #160 University of Manitoba bus which uses the Rapid Transit Corridor.

NEXT WEEK: The Route 78 Crosstown West - Via Cambridge. This route has a slightly more direct route from Polo Park through River Heights to the University of Manitoba. Maybe I'll take the complete Route 36 Northwest Super Express too.

**There was one exception. For some routes Navigo suggested connecting with the # 86 Whyte Ridge near Grant Avenue. However this would mean a minimum 10 minute walk from the stop at Lorimer and Serling Lyon Parkway to the IKEA store.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Route 29 Sherbrook

The Route 29 Sherbrook bus route is really two different routes. One route goes from Sherbrook and Logan to City Hall, the other route starts at the same place, but goes to Pembina and Windemere. The section from Logan to Broadway is the same for both routes.

I get the bus at the stop on Broadway at Maryland. Riding down West Broadway, I realize that this stretch has a number of hairdressers. At Broadway and Furby there is Hair on Broadway.  At Spence Street it is Edward Carriere, a fixture in the neighborhood for many years. Edward Carriere supports the community ice rink and other services in the area.  Just a few blocks farther, on the north side of  Broadway at Balmoral there is Hunter and Gunn almost next door to Grace Hair & Esthetics.

I try taking some pictures from the bus today, and it is very difficult. The windows are spattered with slush from the roads, and part of the windows on my bus are covered with advertising. I get a few photos, but they are of poor quality.

There is work being done on the Manitoba Legislature to replace the skylight over the main staircase. It was supposed to be completed in mid-September. From the outside it looks like the work is still taking place.

The Route 29 Sherbrook to City Hall bus, continues down Broadway to Fort Street where it turns north. The bus follows Fort across Portage Avenue where it becomes Notre Dame. The bus turns on King Street into the Exchange District., past The Cube and City Hall. It enters China Town and turns on Rupert where it waits for a couple of minutes before heading down Princess Street past Red River College Princess Street Campus. It turns and takes McDermot to Main Street. The bus continues down Main Street, past Times Change(d), and turns on to Broadway at Union Station.

As we travel down Broadway toward Osborne Street, I begin to think that the recent recession may have been more serious than I realized. It seems that Santa Claus can no longer survive with just a toy workshop at the North Pole. He has had to open a convenience store to make ends meet.

The bus follows along West Broadway and turns north on Sherbrook Street, heading toward the Health Sciences Centre. At the corner of Sargent and Sherbrook I see Prairie Stained Glass. If you get off the bus at Sargent Avenue, it is just a couple of blocks to X-Cues, where you can get the best cappuccino in the city (in my humble opinion).

Just off the corner of Sherbrook and Notre Dame is the Manitoba Clinic. Across the street is a very large Shopper's Drug Mart. At William and Sherbrook, across from the Health Sciences Centre and Children's Hospital is the construction of the new Women's Hospital. It is a huge hole in the ground filled with pilings.
The bus continues down Sherbrook and passes Rossbrook House. Started by Sister Geraldine McNamara, its motto is "No child who does not want to be alone should ever have to be."

We continue on Sherbrook and cross Logan to turn on Henry and then to Gunnell where the bus waits outside West Rock Battery. The driver looks at me and asks, "Where are you going?" I have to laugh and tell him that I'm not going anywhere! I tell him that I just like to ride different routes and see where they go. He laughs at that and continues to check his text messages.

After a short wait the bus continues on to Logan. As we come to the Logan/Sherbrook intersection, I notice a large warehouse building on the corner with a banner that reads, Marvellous Mascots & Everything Else. They provide the Buzz and Boomer mascots for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and also Goldie for the Goldeyes. They also supply costumes and they have Sumos!

The bus passes HSC and joins Maryland where it branches off Notre Dame. It continues down Maryland, across Sargent, Ellice and Portage Avenues before turning on to West Broadway to begin the trip to City Hall again. I get off at this stop to cross the street and wait for the #29 Sherbrook to Windemere at Maryland and Knappen.

I take advantage of the break to go into the Halal Meat Centre & Specialty Foods. It is full of wonderful spices, pita bread, and foods from the Middle East. The staff are very helpful. You will probably recognize the building if you have ever driven down Maryland. They recently repainted the building. (I got this photo from their Face Book page. I forgot to take one!)

It is a bright blue day and I can't resist taking a photo of the sky as I am waiting for the next #29 Windemere.
 The #29 Windemere heads down Maryland towards Miserecordia Health Centre. It crosses the Maryland Bridge and joins Academy Road, turning on to Stafford at Kelvin High School.  At the Stafford and Grosvenor intersection you can get a meal at The Grove (pub style restaurant), pick up some sweet treats at Lilac Bakery, or do some shopping for home accessories at These Four Walls. Spuntino's Restaurant closed recently, but should soon be replaced by Tre Visi Café.

The bus continues along Stafford crossing Corydon and Grant before reaching Pembina Highway and the now notorious Salisbury House Restaurant there. The bus heads south on Pembina and stops at The Original Pancake House then heads to the bus loop at Windemere where it turns around and returns down Stafford to Sherbrook and on to Logan (the Broadway to Logan route is the same as the #29 City Hall).

COMING SOON: How to get to the new IKEA by bus.
                              Getting to the Richardson International Airport by bus.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Route 24 Ness Express

Note to email subscribers: Last Saturday I posted  My Bus Theme Song. However, the video/music did not come attached to the email (you will find it in the original post). To see the video and hear The Guess Who singing Bus Rider just click here.

This week I am riding the #24 Ness Express. Because Market Street is closed for construction, I can't get the bus at the usual stop on Market beside the Centennial Concert Hall. I am not sure how the bus is being re-routed, so I decide to catch the bus on Main Street at Lombard, just across the street from The Millennium Centre. I love this old building, but have never known what the Millennium Centre actually was. Thanks to this trip I now know that it is a site for weddings, banquets, concerts and other events.
The Millennium Centre - Former Canadian Bank of Commerce Building

The bus turns and makes the trip west on Portage Avenue through the downtown. (I covered a lot of this when I rode the #55 bus.) At 268 Portage Ave (where The Chocolate Shop used to be) I see my new favourite restaurant, Arkadash Bistro. The food is Moroccan/Turkish/Mediterranean. Everything is delicious.
Arkadash Bistro

The bus fills up at the stop outside the Investor's Building; mostly students from the University of Winnipeg. Surprisingly the stop at the University only adds about 3 new riders.

After the stop at the University of Winnipeg, this bus is an Express to Polo Park. That means it only stops at cross streets where the route intersects with other bus routes: Sherbrook St, Maryland, Burnell (Arlington), and Valour Road (here it connects with the #12 William).

At the Maryland stop there is a lot of jostling as a mother with a stroller gets off, and two women with strollers and another child get on. The front seats are lifted up and people get up out of their seats and move to stand by the back door. As I hear the older child (a boy about 4-5 yrs old) talking, it becomes clear that one woman is the grandmother (with a small baby in a stroller), the other woman is the mother with a toddler in what we used to call an "umbrella" stroller. As the bus moves on, the little boy starts calling (not loudly) "back door." Those of you who have ever ridden the bus will be familiar with this call. It usually means someone wanting to leave by the back door is still waiting for the door to open. People call "back door" because they think that the driver has forgotten to release the back door. However, right above the door there is a green light. When this light is on, the door has been released. Usually the door has been released, but people just get impatient.

Continuing my story of the boy calling "back door"...His mother tells him to stop it, that no one is trying to get out the back door. After a moment of silence, the boy calls out "back door" again, just a little louder. So his mother again tells him to stop it and gives him a little swat. After a second I hear the boy say "fuck you" to his mother in a soft voice. Not aggressive, not mean, not yelling. Just a matter of fact comment. His mother's shoulders slump slightly and she looks at him and says "stop it" in a soft voice. I don't hear him talk again until they get off on Ness  Avenue.

That was a first for me. I have heard lots of people swear and use the F word on the bus. But I have never heard a 4 year old say "fuck you" to his mother. I shudder to think what that family dynamic will be in a few years.

As we pull into the stop at Polo Park Shopping Centre, most of the passengers leave the bus. A few more get on, but the bus full but not crowded. We turn onto St James Street for a short distance until we reach Ness and turn west.

Recently, I have noticed that Sushi Restaurants have become ubiquitous in Winnipeg. As we cross Route 90, I see clear proof of this. There is a Domo Gas Bar with Dai Gill Sushi. The sushi restaurant is located in what is usually a convenience store at other gas stations. You can get sushi anywhere!
Dai Gill Sushi and Domo Gas Bar on Ness Avenue
The sides streets along Ness are all residential. Ness itself is mostly commercial with small strip malls and tanning salons, pizza restaurants, hair salons, donut shops, and the Red Boot Drive in. I notice Sew Inspiring, a store that sells and repairs sewing machines. After we cross Sackville Street the area is more residential with fewer businesses. We hit a stretch that includes The Assiniboine Golf Club, Deer Lodge Tennis Club and the St James Civic Centre which has a huge recycling depot. Will that close now that Winnipeg has its new waste removal system?

Just past the Assiniboine Golf Club we see the large fighter jet. This is at the entry to Air Force Way and leads to the Air Force Heritage Park that features 11 aircraft that trace the history of military flight in Canada.

Soon we pass The Living Prairie Museum. If you look for images on Google you can see how it looks in the summer. Right now it mostly dead and dying grasses and flowers.

We also pass the new Sturgeon Heights Collegiate. The school came together as the amalgamation of Sturgeon Creek Regional Secondary School and Collège Silver Heights Collegiate. It is an impressive sight.

I can't help noticing that most of the houses in the area along Ness have fenced their front yards. It gives the neighbourhood a strange look.

These pictures show the fenced in yards along Ness.
We cross Sturgeon Creek and come to Cavalier Drive. Ness is not a through street at this point so we turn left and do a loop to Hamilton Avenue. As we approach Buchanan Boulevard we pass  John Taylor Collegiate. What do I see across from the school? A convenience store, a pizza shop and Sushi Paradise!

We take Buchanan to Portage Avenue. I am surprised to see a Howard Johnson's Express Inn there. I didn't know that there were any Howard Johnson's in Winnipeg. Every bus trip I learn something new!

The bus takes a left on Portage Avenue and goes a short distance to Unicity Smart Complex. I have not been here since a few years before the old Unicity Mall was demolished and this new big box shopping area was created. The new Smart Complex was created in 2000. There is a bus loop here and we wait about 5 minutes before making the return trip to downtown Winnipeg. While we are waiting a flock a geese heading south fly over.

As we are heading back downtown, I am taking photos. The man sitting next to me asks if after taking the pictures I am able to put them on my computer. I tell him yes. He says that he is technically illiterate. He finds it interesting that I can take pictures from the moving bus and they aren't all blurred. I tell him I am riding all the bus routes in Winnipeg and writing a blog. He says, "And then you'll make it a book." There are now so many books that started as blogs, it is assumed that blogs will become books!

When the bus returns to  downtown it goes down Portage Avenue and turns north on Main Street. I get off at the Centennial Concert Hall because I am not sure how it will be re-routed.
Centennial Concert Hall
It normally turns off Main onto Pacific and then stops at Pacific and Martha as the terminus of the route. Then it takes Martha to Lily and and turns on Market. I am not sure where it is going  now that Market is closed. But it does get back to Main Street.

The #24 Ness Express travels from Unicity to Downtown and return only during the day on Mon-Sat. The last bus to leave downtown and go to Unicity is at 6:25 PM. During the evening hours the bus only goes from Unicity-Polo Park and return. On Sunday the bus only goes from Unicity-Polo Park and return.

NEXT: Route 29 Sherbrook - Logan.
My next post will be in November. Look for it around November 2nd.