Saturday, January 06, 2007

There has been more reported on the plans to relocate the Greyhound bus depot here in Winnipeg. Company spokesman Mel Levandoski recently presented more on the company's reasons for planning to relocate to the local media. Any move, however, would be delayed until 2009 when the company's lease on its present facilities expires. With a proper genuflection towards the idea that Greyhound has "to make sure this is the right thing to do for the community, for our customers, for the company" Levandoski went on to present reasons why the move is being contemplated. He mentions that the facility isn't large enough as over 300,000 people used it in 2006. Here Molly asks you to take out a calculator. The "big number" divided by 365 equals 822 in any given day. Molly further asks you to consider the "hours of the day". Let's be generous and say the bus depot is only open 12 hours a day. Divide again. The result is 68 people. It's amazing how fast large numbers become less impressive when looked at in a different perspective. All of these 68 people could bring their whole families to the present depot and there would still be lots of room. The place is not wall to wall people even at its busiest time.
A more serious problem is that the facility was built in 1964 for buses with a length of 13 meters. Present day buses are about three meters long, and according to Levandoski, "often tow five-metre-long cargo trailers". This might present a better case even if the present depot seems to handle this traffic adequately at this time. The "trailers" mentioned should perhaps have a different adverb in the sentence as opposed to "often". Everybody certainly has seen such trailers. Are they "often", "sometimes", "occasionally" or "rarely". Molly's observations would seem to indicate a choice of the latter two rather than the first. It should be noted also that the present day depot does handle buses of the present length. Are there plans to purchase buses that are even longer ? How would these handle on the highways ? Finally, if the length of present day buses is presenting a problem would it perhaps be a call for another facility close to downtown rather than out on the edge of the city ? Once more, a large proportion of the Dog's customers are from rural areas or have limited means and pretty well all of what they want to access in Winnipeg is located downtown.
Levandoski stated that "the company is not looking anywhere but to the airport at the moment". Is this wise management ? Shouldn't other options at least be considered ?
The company spokesman reiterated the Dog's promise to provide a free shuttle service between the city centre and the airport. Try to remember that word free is years to come. It's not quite a promise, but it is being made to try and soften a public relations blow. Other questions come to mind. Is it "free" both ways or just on incoming buses ? What will the hours be for the remaining downtown office ? How frequently will it run- will you have to sit 5 hours at the airport to catch a bus because the shuttle doesn't run often enough ? Does the word "free" mean "included in the (increased) price of a ticket" or really and truly "free". If the latter is meant how can the company save costs so as to keep ticket prices steady ? Can they really do this by incurring a capital debt by new construction and acquiring a new fleet of shuttles ? Seems hard to me to see how you can save money by spending more. A much more likely outcome is an increase in the price of bus tickets.
Finally, for those passengers mentioned who travel to Winnipeg by bus to take a plane, wouldn't it make more sense to have a shuttle for this minority going to the airport ? Without inconveniencing the majority.
More later as this story goes on

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