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 Coll├Ęge 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.

Friday, October 5, 2012

My Bus Theme Song

When I created this Blog, I had the option of adding background music. I chose not to do that, saving my readers a lot of irritation. But, if I had a theme song playing in the background, it would be Bus Rider by The Guess Who.  What could be better....a song about riding the bus from a Winnipeg group!

I hope you enjoy this Thanksgiving Holiday Long Weekend edition of Exploring Our Routes. I also hope that you will be humming this song before the weekend is over! (I can hear your cursing me now!)               Happy Thanksgiving.

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."