By Trevor Suffield
Oct. 9, 2008
You might have noticed some subtle infrastructure changes while waiting to catch a bus to work or school.
Winnipeg Transit has been upgrading bus stop signs, shelters, benches and kiosks as part of an improvement program that began in 2007. The project is expected to continue until the end of 2009.
Ken Allen, a communications officer with Winnipeg Transit, said the improvements also include upgrades to traffic signals and automated bus stop voice technology featuring Global Positioning System equipment. The improvements are expected to cost approximately $8 million. They were approved by city council in 2006.
“These improvements will enhance speed, comfort and convenience for Winnipeg Transit users,” Allen said.
One of the most noticeable changes is the introduction of new, blue bus stop signs. They replace the white, flying T bus stop plates originally installed in 1986.
Transit officials hope the new, larger signs will be easier for people to read.
Reaction to the new signs appears to be mixed.
“I moved away from Winnipeg for a while, and just came back about three months ago, so it just never occurred to me that they changed,” said D’Anne Trepanier of St. James.
“I didn’t mind the old ones,” she said, but added the new signs are much more noticeable and “these ones just seem more substantial.”
Ross Snar, of Charleswood, didn’t think the old signs needed to be changed.
“The old signs are still what everyone is used to, and I never really noticed the new signs.”
Allen said that new colors were the subject of focus testing. The blue and white combination scored the highest, he said.
So far, the response transit officials have received from their customer service line and bus drivers “has been extremely positive,” Allen said.
Barbara McIntyre of St. James is pleased with the look of the new signs.
“I like these ones. They look a lot better,” she said.
However, McIntyre thinks that the city should change all of the signs, not just some of them.
“Some people might think that their stop is important,” she said. “Why isn’t this one being changed too? Why just certain areas?”
Allen said with approximately 5,500 bus stops in the city, it simply isn’t possible to change all of the signs immediately.
For now, the city plans to upgrade signs on major traffic routes and at activity centers such as universities and shopping malls, he said.
Allen said it’s still too early to say what kind of signage transit officials will consider for any kind of future rapid transit system.