Thursday, January 24, 2013

Getting to the Airport by Bus

The question today is: which is the best bus to take to the James Richardson International Airport:? The answer of course is, it depends.

There have been several occasions when I have been waiting for the bus on Graham Avenue at Donald Street when people have gotten on the #20 Watt-Academy-Airport bus with suitcases to go to the airport (or perhaps the Greyhound Terminal). Even though the bus says AIRPORT, it does not go directly to the airport. The #15 Sargent-Airport goes directly to the airport from downtown. You can catch the #15 on Portage Avenue, just a block away. I have always wondered why people would choose to take the #20 instead of the #15. Last Thursday I took both routes.

If you start from downtown Winnipeg, the fastest, most direct route to the airport is to take the #15 Sargent bus. It takes about 18 minutes from the stop in front of Portage Place to reach the airport (via Sargent and Flight Road). I got on the #15 Sargent-Airport via Flight Road at 10:00 am. The bus headed west down Portage Avenue and turned north on Vaughan Street at the Staples end of Portage Place. From there the bus took a little jog east on Ellice Ave and turned north on Kennedy St. This is a high-density housing area lined with apartment blocks. After a short 3 block run on Kennedy, the bus turned on Sargent at Sister MacNamara School.

I think you can find just about any kind of food you want on Sargent Avenue. Between Balmoral and Ingersol, we passed Ethiopian,Thai, Philippine, Vietnamese and Korean restaurants, not to mention Dairy Queen (closed for the season!) and Subway! We also passed Viena do Castelo (Portuguese Food Store) Lisbon Bakery and Morden's chocolates and X-Cues (still my favourite place for Cappuccino). 

A little further down Sargent we passed the Cindy Klassen Recreation Centre (where you can actually find Cindy working out at times!) and the Susan Auch Speed Skating Oval and the Valour Road Memorial.

Cindy Klassen Recreation Centre
We continued down Sargent passing SuperStore and Rona and came to the intersection with Century (Route 90 North). The #15 Sargent alternates between turning on Century to Wellington and the airport, and continuing on Sargent and turning on Flight Road before connecting with Wellington at the airport. I was on the Flight Road bus. This route passed Standard Aero, Air Canada Cargo and Purolator. We pulled into the bus stop at the airport at 10:18 AM. There was a #20 bus sitting there waiting. The #15 Sargent sat at the airport for about 5 minutes before  returning to downtown. About a block from the airport the bus stoped at the Greyhound Terminal.
The Greyhound Bus Terminal viewed from the bus stop across the street.
 When you check Navigo Trip Planner, it suggests that if you are going to the Greyhound terminal, you get off the bus at the airport and walk.

After returning downtown, I walked from Portage Avenue to Graham Avenue to catch the #20 Watt- Academy-Airport bus by the Manitoba Hydro Building.
The bus stop outside the Hydro the summer.
I got the bus at about 11:12 AM. This bus followed the same route as the #17 Miserecordia (covered in my first post). We went down Graham to The Bay, turned south and took Memorial to Broadway and the Manitoba Legislature, then followed Broadway West to Maryland. At Maryland and Wolseley at the Miserecordia Health Centre the # 20 continued across the Maryland Bridge where it turned west on Academy Road. At the intersection of Academy and Stafford we passed Kelvin High School. Check this link to see all the well-know former students, including Neil Young.

Academy Road alternates between residential and business sections with shops and restaurants. There are gourmet food stores, women's clothing stores, European Shoes, and many restaurants. At the corner of Academy and Centennial there is a little haven for those with gluten allergies/intolerance. You can get gluten-free pizza at Pizza 21st Century and get great tacos right next door at Modern Taco. As I headed to the airport those stores were on the opposite side of Academy. I just got a quick glimpse as the bus turned to cross the Assiniboine River on the St James Bridge. We immediately turned off to join Portage Avenue across from Polo Park Shopping Centre. The bus took the overpass to cross Portage Avenue and turned on to Empress Street.

Along Empress the bus stopped at the Chapters shopping area.  You could also get off the bus here to go to Silver City Polo Park for a movie. There are several big box stores and other commercial operations all along Empress. At Wellington we turned west to get to the airport, passing the "still new to me" Canada Post operations. It opened in June 2010. 
Canada Post Sorting Plant - Winnipeg
 We arrived at the James Richardson International Airport at 11:47 AM. That makes it a 35 minute trip to the airport. It is almost twice as long as taking the #15 Sargent bus. (35 minutes versus 18 minutes = 17 minutes more for the #20 Watt-Academy-Airport) This bus waited at the bus stop about 15 minutes before making the return trip to downtown. It also stopped at the Greyhound Terminal.

Which is the best bus to take to the depends on where you are starting. If you are downtown close to Main Street or Portage Avenue, the #15 Sargent is definitely quicker, and it runs more often than the #20. If you live in River Heights in the vicinity of Academy Road, the #20 is your best bus bet. If you live in St James you can transfer at Polo Park to the #20 to get to the airport. I would suggest that you enter your information into Navigo to get the best route. However, when I chose Smith Street as my departure point and put the airport as my destination, I got 4 choices. Two of those choices were the #15 Sargent bus. One suggestion was the #20 Watt-Academy, and the last choice was to take #21 Portage bus to Polo Park and transfer to the #20 there. While these last two choices will take you to the airport, they are not the quickest or most direct routes.

We may have sub-zero temperatures and brutal wind chills here in Winnipeg, but it doesn't stop our creativity. On my walk to the bus I saw this creative use of the snow piled up beside the road: an inuksuk

NEXT:  The Route #20 from downtown to Watt and the Route #15 from downtown to Mountain: the other half of each of the routes in today's post.

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