Winnipeg Needs Night Buses

Drinking and driving is an ongoing problem for Winnipeg. There have been tragic accidents and lives have been lost as a result. The people who chose to drive drunk are at fault and have to live with their actions; but that aside, how can these incidents be avoided?

In Manitoba, the blood alcohol concentration limit is .05.

According to these charts, just one drink can bring some people to that point.

Who goes out and has just one drink? I serve at a bar and trust me, hardly anyone.

I know this is a delicate issue and I am not criticizing. I’m an advocator for anti-drunk driving 100%. I just find that Manitoba takes this issue very seriously, as they should; yet offer few options for getting home. Find a DD? Take a cab? Catch a bus? After talking to a few people, here are some common reasons why neither of these are great options.

  • Not everyone is willing to pay $30 + on cabfare for one evening. Unicity has a base charge of $3.50 and after that charges approximately $2.02 per mile. Too pricy.
  • Buses stop running at midnight. On weekends who goes home before that time?
  • People don’t always have loose change or bus tickets on them.
  • It often isn’t clear what route(s) to take to get to a specific area.
  • Many bus stops downtown are unsafe to wait in late at night.
  • It is difficult to find a designated driver that is willing to stay out the whole night.

I don’t drink and drive, I have seen too many horrible accidents occur from careless people, but the above are unfortunate truths that need to be acknowledged. In order for change, something needs to change.

I like to go out. Not so much during the school year, but when I do, I don’t typically play board games at someone’s house – I like going to lounges, sometimes a club, maybe see a live band.

During the week it is common for me to meet a friend for a drink. I don’t expect them to pick me up when they live on the other side of town, so naturally we meet there. Two beers later I’m completely fine, and ready to go home – but already, I’m over the alcohol limit. I feel completely fine and drive home, aware that I run the risk of getting pulled over. I’m 5 minutes from my house, what else should I do? Leave my car there overnight, cab home and somehow get back there in the morning? That’s silly.

According to the Manitoba government:

Persons convicted of driving impaired, drive with a blood alcohol concentration over .08 or refuse breath/blood sample may receive the following penalties:

• A minimum fine of $1000 for a first conviction.

• A mandatory minimum jail sentence of 30 days for a second conviction or 120 days for subsequent convictions.

A minimum one year driving prohibition for a first conviction, a minimum 2 year driving prohibition for a second conviction and a minimum 3 year driving prohibition for subsequent convictions.

Nobody wants that, but in order to change there needs to be ways to get home that are easy and cheap. So here are 3 possible ideas to decrease drunk driving.

1) Have Taxi’s lower prices between 1-3 a.m. I’m sure cab drivers wouldn’t be thrilled at this idea. But honestly, I think they would get more business. People would be more willing to take them; creating more customers, more frequent customers, and potentially higher tips. Also, they could feel more responsible in helping people get home safe, with that as priority instead of making a few bucks. (I’m a dreamer.)

2) Having a ‘Club Shuttle Bus’. This might be a long shot, but each nightclub could provide their own shuttle; (of course fully advertising their establishment) that is free (or included in a slightly higher cover charge) and has a few drop off points. It would be good promotion, they wouldn’t be liable for anyone getting hurt after being in their bar, and it might actually boost clientele. Could be part of a VIP package. Or a business idea could be a ‘nightclub shuttle’ that stops at a few throughout the city and takes people home. Government sponsored ?

3) Night Buses.

This is my greatest idea, because well, they already exist. In Belgium they have a great transportation system. Besides having an metro, a cheap monthly fare and stops everywhere, they have night buses that ran Friday and Saturday evenings, called Noctis.


official site: noctis.html?l=en

Go to the site. (It’s in English) It’s short and will illustrate how this works. There are 11 different routes for 11 different areas, you can easily type in your address to find out what “your number is” and each bus runs every half hour until 3 a.m. They are different from normal bus routes, they are not as extensive but hit all the main streets, and have multiple stops in certain zones of the city. People can get to their house, or at least close by.

Discovering these buses helped my sleep schedule, a lot. The buses were full of regular people, so I felt safe and never witnessed anything go wrong. If Winnipeg implemented something like this, maybe a security guard could be on board because of the potential for crime.

Winnipeg is quite spread out and is difficult to get around in without a car, so buses need to be more appealing and useful to the average person.

I think having night buses on Friday and Saturday would be beneficial for anyone who goes out, and we could learn from the success of this Belgian model. I’m aware of Operation Red Nose, it’s a start – but I don’t think it’s enough. The optional donation still feels like a chore for people. Sorry.

Winnipeg needs to do something out of sheer desire to “help” and not just give extreme threats and hope people comply. I can’t think of a downfall to having night buses. Would it be that much more expensive to have them run every hour for a few routes? Or has this been thought of before, and I’m missing some blatantly obvious problem?

Please don’t drink and drive.

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