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.