Thursday, October 4, 2012

Route 99 Downtown-Osborne Village

Today Winnipeg is definitely feeling like "Winterpeg." The rain/snow/ice pellets are coming at me horizontally, sticking to my clothes and getting in behind my glasses. It is 1 degree Celsius and very windy. A great day for a bus ride!

The #99 bus actually has two different routes. The downtown portion of the route is the same for both buses. I am taking the #99 Misericordia-City Hall Bus first. The bus I am on is a "commuter" bus. It is small with only 2 rows of seats at the front of the bus (two seats facing in, and two seats facing the driver), then the steps lead to the rear, and no side door. This bus begins its route on Wolseley across from the Misericordia Health Centre (on the North side of the street). The bus turns on Maryland, crosses the bridge and then turns left onto Wellington Crescent at the Shaarey Zedek Synagogue and St. Mary's Academy.
Shaarey Zedek Synagogue

St. Mary's Academy

 The bus has several stops along the Crescent and then takes Stradbrook to Osborne Street/Osborne Village. This is great! I now have a direct bus route to Segovia, one of my favourite restaurants. The bus continues on Stradbrook, across Donald Street, to Harkness Street Station, one of the new Rapid Transit Stops.  This is the first time I have seen one of the stations from the street; not inside the station. The question that comes to mind is: will the snow be cleared in a timely manner for easy access to the station, by riders, in the winter?

Harkness Street Rapid Transit Station
 Now the bus keeps to the left to take the cut-off over to River Avenue. We follow River to Donald and turn right to cross the Midtown Bridge.  And we are now on Smith Street heading towards Portage Avenue. On the right is the HMCS Chippewa, home of the Naval Reserve. Along Smith I can see the progress they are making on converting the old Canada Post Building into the new Police Station/Public Safety Building. It is really hard to tell what is happening. They are putting on a new exterior.

Just before reaching Portage Avenue, there is the St Regis Hotel on the right and on the left at 280 Smith Street is the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation (MCIC). After crossing Portage the bus turns on King Street to the Exchange District, Old Market Square, City Hall and on to China Town where it turns on Rupert and waits for a few minutes. This is the downtown terminus of the route.
Chinese Cultural Centre

Coming back along Princess Street we pass the Princess Street Campus of Red River College. They kept the facades of the old buildings and gutted the interiors to develop the site, but still keep the look of the Exchange District.

Amid the mix of trendy shops and restaurants along Princess, a neon sign stand out. Del's Electric Motor Supply.
In the window there are many examples of small electric motors, all very clean and neat. Somehow I expect a motor supply company to have a grimy look! 

Princess melds into Donald Street, and there are several lanes closed due to construction of the Centre Point Development at Portage and Donald. There are also lane closures on Donald beside the MTS Centre. As we pass cityplace shopping centre, two women are waving for the bus to stop (there are also lanes closed on this portion of Donald Street). As they get on the bus, one of the women says, "311 told me to just stand on the street and wave." I realize that this is a new phrase I am hearing a lot ..".311 told me."  It seems to be the new excuse people use to explain their actions.

My bus continues along Donald, across the Midtown Bridge and then turns down River Avenue. We take River all the way to Wellington Crescent and then follow the Crescent to Academy/Sherbrook. As we approach Sherbrook we pass the lovely Munson Park.

We turn on Sherbrook and then turn on Wolsely and we are back where we started. That is the #99 Misericordia-City Hall route.

Now I have to get to the #99 Pembina/Windemere-City Hall bus. Since the downtown portions of both routes are the same, I go downtown to Donald Street to catch it as it heads out of downtown. This bus crosses the Midtown Bridge and continues along Donald to McMillan Street. At McMillan and Osborne Street we turn onto Osborne Street to Confusion Corner. From here we head south on Pembina Highway.  We pass Grant Avenue, Stafford Street, take the Jubilee Underpass and pass my favourite fruit/vegetable store, Vic's Fruit Market (Vic's has lots of local fruit and veggies in season). I forgot to  mention Vic's when I rode the #160, so I thought I would remedy that on this trip.
Vic's Fruit Market, Pembina Highway
We pull off on the transit loop at Pembina and Windemere. We sit here for a few minutes until it is time to head back downtown. Again the bus turns at the Pembina/Osborne/Corydon intersection to take Donald Street across the Midtown Bridge and into the downtown through the Exchange District to the terminus at Rupert and Princess.

Here is the question: Why do we have this new route? When they started the Rapid Transit routes, the #66 Grant and the #62 Pembina/University of Manitoba buses no longer traveled along Smith St/Donald St./Midtown Bridge and an area of Pembina Highway was not being serviced. So the #99 is the answer...with some additions. While the Rapid Transit routes are great for many people, some areas lost service. Within a week of Rapid Transit starting in April, they had to return some service on the #60 route. It was supposed to disappear and become only the #160. The  Route 60 signs had disappeared from all the bus stops along the Graham Transit Mall. But suddenly the #60 bus appeared again, running less often than before.

NEXT: Route #24 Ness Express. It is time to hit St James Assiniboia! Who knows maybe my bus driver will be the "Good Samaritan."

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