Thursday, September 27, 2012

Route 160 Downtown - University of Manitoba

As I leave home this morning it is 8 degrees Celsius. There is no sun. The forecast high is 20+ degrees. With no sun, I can't imagine that we will make it. But I do love watching people during this transitional weather. On my bus downtown to transfer to the #160 Downtown - University of Manitoba bus, I see a man who is a regular on my route. All summer he wears shorts, running shoes with white sport socks up to mid-calf, and a sleeveless shirt. Some of these shirts are tank tops or some type that is made with no sleeves, others have obviously had the sleeves cut off. Today he wears "track" pants, a sleeveless shirt and a down vest. He likes to show off his muscular arms! He looks like he could be anywhere between 50-70 years old. Another passenger is wearing sandals, and another has a light parka. I guess one is an optimist and one is a pessimist.

 It is time to get the #160. I catch it at Balmoral Station. This is the old downtown Greyhound/Grey Goose bus station across from the University of Winnipeg on Balmoral Street.

The bus is almost full as it pulls out and turns on to Ellice Avenue. From there it turns on to Vaughan and goes across Portage Avenue to the Graham Avenue Transit Mall. By the time it reaches the turn on to Main Street, there are people standing in the aisle. There are also more people than usual drinking coffee on this bus. I have never seen so many Tim Horton's cups on one bus...I can actually smell the coffee. Except for about 3 passengers, all the rest look like students. They are reading text books and highlighting worksheets. Some are texting or talking on the phone. Many wear headphones or ear buds.

As we pass Main Street and Broadway, I notice Fort Gary Place. I have never understood the design of that building. The first 3 or 4 floors are done in some sort of neoclassical style, the exterior decorated with statues. Then the upper stories are in a modern style. Very strange.
A close up of those statues that surround the lower floors.
The "neoclassical" bottom floors with the tall modern portion behind.

After crossing the Assiniboine River, the bus enters the Rapid Transit traffic lights, no other traffic. The first stop is Harkness Station. This is at Harkness Road, just past the back of the Winnipeg Winter Club. Next Osborne Station. A lot of passengers get on here. We enter a tunnel (actually an underpass with the CN Rail line above it). As we come out of the tunnel you can see the Fort Rouge rail yards with stacked container cars on the right. When we come up to Jubilee, we meld into the Jubilee overpass with the other traffic. That is the end of this first phase of Rapid Transit. During rush hour it is great to miss all the traffic across the Mid-town Bridge and Confusion Corner. For many passengers it is a longer walk to the bus reach the RT Stations.
The Osborne Street Station
Pembina Highway is in bad shape in many areas. There is a lot of always. I have never been there, but I always like the name of Delicious Vegetarian Restaurant. I always wonder if it is....delicious. We only pick up a few passengers along this part of Pembina. We pass Winnipeg Technical College and Value Village. As other traffic bears to the left to enter University Crescent, the bus keeps to the right and enters a Transit loop just before the Earl's Restaurant. Then the bus has its own traffic light as it crosses Pembina and enters University Crescent. Summerland Apartments on the right still looks very inviting after all these years. The trees along this route are just turning colour and they look lovely with lots of yellow and red among the green. Suddenly to the right I am amazed by the size of the new Stadium. It really is big, both in area and in height. It certainly looks like there is a lot more work to be done before it can be used.

The bus takes the scenic route around the perimeter of the University of Manitoba before it turns on to Dafoe Road and stops at the bus stop there across from Tache Hall which is being refurbished.The bus schedule says that the bus should arrive here at 10:48 AM....and it arrives exactly on time.

Everyone gets off the bus here. It sits here until 10:54. While we are waiting, I notice a man in the bus shelter having a very animated conversation. Because of a pole I can't see who he is talking to. So I move and take a look. The man is alone in the shelter. In the "old" days, I would have thought he was talking to himself. But these days he may be talking on his cell with a bluetooth headset. I look carefully. He is about 50 years old...he is wearing what looks a Blue Bomber jogging suit, a small Spider Man back pack, and two carryall  bags over his arms. I can not see any sign of a headset. Yes, he is talking to himself.

This frame for a sign is empty. Looks sad.

On the trip to the U of M, the bus was so crowded that I could not see much along Pembina Highway. As we head back to the downtown there are only about 10 people on the bus, so I can see that between University Crescent and Oakenwald/McGillivray things are looking shabby. There are empty buildings and signs with the lights missing. All the apartments, condos, commercial/retail buildings and hotels used to look vibrant, now they are looking tired.

We join the Rapid Transit Corridor again and enter the Fort Rouge Station. I look around and it is hard to tell how people get to this station, or where they come from. (I had to look at a map to see that it serves people from the Lord Roberts area. I am not too familiar with that part of the city.) As we pull out and move along, I can see that we are behind the Transit Garage on Osborne Street.

Returning to downtown, the Rapid Transit Corridor ends at Harkness. The bus goes along Harkness to Mayfair and then up to Main Street. It takes Main Street to the Graham Transit Mall.  At The Bay the bus turns right and heads to Portage where it turns left and heads back to Balmoral Station.

I noticed a new sculpture by the Graham Avenue entrance to the Manitoba Hydro Building. There are large bison sculptures inside the building. I am not sure how long this calf has been outside.

NOTE: There is also a #161 University Super Express. This is the same route...except...It is non-stop between Jubilee and University Crescent at Dysart Road. This bus leaves the downtown starting at 7:14 AM until 2:50 PM. It travels from the University of Manitoba to downtown starting at 9:27 AM until 5:43 PM. Weekdays Only.

NEXT: Route #99 Downtown - Osborne Village. New Service linking Osborne Village, Harkness Station, and Downtown via Donald Street. There is a stop about a block away from my home, so I want to try it.

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