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.

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