On a city council poised to cut transit, only 1 councillor regularly rides the bus

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On a city council poised to cut transit, only 1 councillor regularly rides the bus

Only one member of the Winnipeg city council that's poised to hike bus fares while cutting back service relies on Winnipeg Transit on a regular basis.

Mynarski Coun. Ross Eadie is the only elected official at city hall who takes a bus every work day, a survey of all 16 members of council reveals. He's also the only member of council who cannot drive.

Nine members of council said they take a bus several times a month, three said they only use Winnipeg Transit on rare occasions and another three said they don't use public transit at all.

On Tuesday, city council will debate a 2018 budget that calls for transit fare hikes of 25 cents and reductions of service along a maximum of 22 routes during off-peak hours.

While personal use of transit is no pre-requisite for support, CBC News asked each member of council about their transit usage. Here's what they had to say:​

Mayor Brian Bowman

Transit use: Occasional.

Winnipeg's mayor said he takes the bus occasionally but also bikes to work, albeit not as often as he likes.

"My primary mode of transportation is driving," Bowman said Wednesday during a break in an executive policy committee meeting. 

"Given my schedule throughout the day, having a vehicle at city hall is something that I'm required to do."

Coun. Matt Allard

Transit use: Seldom.

​St. Boniface Coun. Allard said he rarely takes the bus, but will do so every day during the month of January.

"Unlike many of my constituents who depend on transit, I have the means to drive if I have something urgent or time sensitive to do during my workday," he said via email.

"If I'm not in a rush, it's generally faster to walk to city hall from my house in North St. Boniface than it is to take the No. 10 or 43 or 56.

"Further, if I am meeting constituents in my ward, especially in neighbourhoods like Island Lakes, Royalwood, Sage Creek and Southdale, it would be hard for me to efficiently do my job if I had to take the bus there and back more than once— or even once — per day.

"Therein lies the problem. Tens of thousands of my constituents — nearly all of them who don't live an easy walk from the core — have inadequate bus service," he said, pointing out he committed during the last election to transit improvements and blaming funding from Brian Pallister's government for the proposed service cuts.

"Unlike roads, sewers, police, fire, parks and others — many of our decision-makers do not depend on this municipal service, myself included," he said.

"I'm going to therefore take this opportunity to publicly commit to rely on the bus every day to get to work and back in the month of January, both to learn from and better sympathize with my transit using constituents, and to take the opportunity to discuss transit with them directly."

Coun. Jeff Browaty​

Transit use: Occasional

North Kildonan Coun. Browaty said he uses Winnipeg Transit most often to go to Investors Group Field during football season.

"I do not regularly use the bus for commuting to work. I often have meetings during the work day away from city hall and schedule visits to see issues in the ward on the way to or on the way home from city hall and therefore use my car.

"I do have a convenient rush-hour express bus that stops near my home that I have used during the commuter challenge.

"I do have a Peggo card and will use the bus to get to city hall when I'm having my car serviced. I also typically use transit on Bomber game days."

Coun. Shawn Dobson

Transit use: Occasional

"I don't regularly take the bus," the St. Charles councillor said via email. "If my wife has the car I do, though. I probably only took the bus 20 times last year."

Coun. Ross Eadie

Transit use: Frequent

Mynarski Coun. Eadie, who is blind, uses transit more than any other member of city council.

"I take a bus at least twice a day," he said via email.

"I can say with full knowledge that while we have been charging five cents a year more, the service has declined for a number of reasons. 

"How we deal with snow and ice has caused a decline the ability for transit to serve us."

Coun. Jenny Gerbasi

Transit use: Occasional

​When Sam Katz was Winnipeg's mayor, the Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry councillor was the leading proponent of bus rapid transit. She's still a transit supporter, even if she doesn't ride very often.

"It varies," Gerbasi said of her transit use. "Sometimes several times a month."

Coun. Scott Gillingham

Transit use: Occasional

St. James-Brooklands Coun. Gillingham is an occasional transit user.

"Yes, I take the bus sometimes. On average, once every two or three weeks," he said via email. "I've also taken it to and from Jets games a few times."

Coun. Cindy Gilroy

Transit use: Occasional

Inner-city Coun. Gilroy, whose Daniel McIntyre ward is the smallest in Winnipeg, said she takes the bus "​two to three times a month."

Coun. Janice Lukes

Transit use: Seldom

The councillor representing South Winnipeg-St. Norbert said her family uses transit every day, even if she does not.

"I have three teenage boys who use the bus to get to [and] from high school and I supplement the service with a vehicle," she said via email. "I do not take the bus to city hall."​

Coun. Brian Mayes

Transit use: Occasional

​St. Vital Coun. Mayes is a semi-regular transit user.

"I took the bus here today," he said on Tuesday, via email.

"I try to take it once per week to work. I have not done this in this fall due to some parenting duties. About twice per month I take transit from city hall to meetings in Graham/Broadway area."

Coun. Marty Morantz

Transit use: Seldom

As city council's public works chair, Charleswood-Tuxedo-Whyte Ridge Coun. Morantz is responsible for Winnipeg Transit. But he doesn't take the bus often, he said.

​"I generally drive," said the councillor said via email.

John Orlikow

Transit use: Occasional

River Heights-Fort Garry Coun. Orlikow said he's not a frequent transit user.

"Occasionally — depends on week," he said via email.

Coun. Mike Pagtakhan

Transit use: None

Point Douglas Coun. Mike Pagtakhan said he does not use Winnipeg Transit.

​"I live in a very walkable area of the city," he said via email. "I walk and bike to work."

Coun. Jason Schreyer

Transit use: Occasional

"I take the bus around once or twice a month," the first-term Elmwood-East Kildonan councillor said via email. 

"The 20 goes right by my house down Hespeler, and goes right past city hall as well as the legislature, so it's been coming in handy for a while. I'm just as apt to walk to work, even in winter on a beautiful day, as it's only a half hour walk. 

"I've also been known to rollerblade to work.  I'm  worried about leaving my bike outside, however, so I've only [biked] once."

Coun. Devi Sharma

Transit use: None

Old Kildonan Coun. Sharma said she is not a Winnipeg Transit user.

"I currently do not but will say I know how important a well-functioning transit system is as someone who has used the bus at different times in my life for both pleasure and business," she said via email.

Coun. Russ Wyatt

Transit use: None

"I don't take the bus," the Transcona councillor said in a telephone interview. "But if I had a job with regular hours, I would."