Tips for first-time bus riders

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Want to get more familiar with the Winnipeg Transit before you take your first ride?

Watch this video from Winnipeg Transit to help you get started:

Let’s break down the five tips:

  1. Transit TOOLS

  2. How do you know which bus to take and where to take it from? Use these tools to find out. To plan your trip, Winnipeg Transit has electronic and traditional means to ensure that you get to your destination safely and on time:

    • Using your computer/mobile/smartphone:
      Navigo – this is the preferred trip planner. You simply type where you are (origin), where you’re going (destination) and the time you need to be there. You can use the address or the nearest bus stop for origin and destination. After clicking submit, it will show you several options. Note the time, bus number and bus stop.

      BUSguide (classic) and BUSguide (mobile) are apps that you can download into your smartphone and other mobile devices. They have the same functions as the Winnipeg Transit homepage. Aside from planning your trip, you can also find a stop, monitor a stop, even get service advisories (road closures, trip cancellations, etc.).

      Winnipeg Bus Live – developed by a Winnipegger, this is a free app you can download in your mobile. It provides real time bus schedules near your location.

      Google Maps – use this tool to see where and which bus to take if you are leaving immediately. It is also helpful if you also want to see other options besides taking the bus like walking or biking. Use the map to see streets and landmarks near your destination.

    • Paper
      Pocket timetables – If you don’t want to use electronic means, printed versions of timetables are available. These show weekly bus schedules. You can pick them up for free at Transit Service Centres.

      If you want to see a complete map of Winnipeg Transit routes all over Winnipeg, go to System Map.

    • Call and text:
    • TeleBUS –Call 204-287-7433 to know the bus schedule times. Before you call, have the five-digit number of your nearest bus stop ready.
      Bus stop sign with arrow pointing to 5-digit bus stop number
      311 – Dial 311 to ask about transit schedules. This is also the number to call if you have questions about City of Winnipeg services. 311 can be used online via a computer. You can also download the app for mobile use.
      BUStxt – Text 287-898 to get information. You will need to know certain keywords or commands to get answers so check the webpage link or download the BUStxt User guide. Standard text messaging rates apply.

    • Signage:
    • BUSwatch – these are electronic boards on major bus stops. You will see which buses ply through the certain stop and what time they will arrive. BUSgadget is a desktop version of BUSwatch. You can install this app on your computer and choose which stops you want displayed. You can even set an alarm to let you know that your bus is arriving.

    • Additional services: Bus alerts on Twitter
    • Follow Winnipeg Transit for the latest transit news, events and special service.
      Follow Transit Alerts for the latest re-route or service advisory information.

  3. Bus routes

    Winnipeg buses have several routes. Express service offers the fastest trip to your destination especially during rush hours. This is because express buses have fewer scheduled stops compared to Regular Service. Check the digital signages on an oncoming bus to see if it is an express bus. It will also be indicated on the transit tool that you use (Express routes are usually in yellow). For a complete list of Express buses, check the System Map. If you want to know more about the types of buses on the road, read: 10 things you need to know about taking the bus.

    Not sure if the bus coming is the one you need to take? Check the route number and destination.
    grahic showing how a bus signage displays route number and name

    You can also ask the bus operator to make sure (see some useful dialogue when talking to the bus driver below).

  4. Bus fare

    You can pay for your fare in several ways: cash, tickets, passes, or by Peggo. Peggo is a card you simply tap on the farebox. It is reloadable. You can load it at retail stores, online or via 311 (note that you can use loads online or thru 311 after 48 hours). You also get a discount when you pay via Peggo. To know more about the Peggo (where and how to buy them, etc.) go to About Peggo.

    hand with Peggo card near a fare box

    More on the bus fare:

    • The bus does not accept bills or pennies. Drivers do not carry or make change. If you use cash, you have to put in the exact amount.
    • The full fare is $3.00 in cash, $2.65 for Peggo and tickets (starting Jan. 1, 2020). This is what people ages 7 – 64 who are not in high school or a post-secondary institution have to pay.
    • Initially, paper tickets were intended to be phased out. But it looks like they’re here to stay. If you don’t like Peggo, you can still buy tickets and passes.
    • If you plan on taking the bus often, look into buying weekly or monthly passes. They will save you more money. To see the complete table of fares, go to this page: Transit Fares.
    • Learn about the Low-Income Transit Pass. WINN Pass is for low-income earners and refugees who have been here less than a year get a 30% discount on the full-fare monthly adult pass in 2020. The discount is set to increase in the coming years.
    • Youth (6-16 years old) pay a Reduced fare.
    • Senior Fare applies to those who are 65 or older.
    • Kids from 0 to 6 years old can ride with their parents/guardians for free.
    • If you need to take another bus after the first one to get to your destination, ask for a transfer ticket (after you pay your fare on the next bus). The transfer ticket is free and good for 75 minutes. Tap the ticket on the fare box when you take your next bus.
  5. Bus courtesy

    Wait for people to get off before boarding. Don’t block the doorway. Passengers are advised to occupy spaces at the back of bus. This frees up space for those coming after you. Doing this also makes loading faster. Keep priority seats vacant for seniors, persons with disabilities, and parents with baby carriages. Watch this video for more bus courtesy tips:

  6. Preparing to exit

    Stops are announced in advance. The next stop is indicated on the digital display near the entrance.
    next stop announcer

    To tell the driver that you’re getting off at the next stop, simply pull the yellow cable near the windows or push the red stop button. Use the rear doors when getting off the bus. However, if you are nearer the front doors near the driver, you may exit there as well.

  7. lady pulling the yellow cable and close up of stop button

Enjoy your first ride on the Winnipeg Transit!
Article updated November 24, 2020.
Sources: With thanks to Gerry Pearson, Transit Travel Trainer, Winnipeg Transit Workshop for Service Providers (for the information and graphics); Winnipeg Transit website. Accessed March 29, 2018.

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Everyday Conversations

Sample questions or requests to the bus driver:

  1. If you need help getting on the bus:
    “Please lower the bus.”
    “Please lower the ramp for me.”
  2. If you want to make sure that it is the right bus to take:
    “Does this bus go to Polo Park (or your destination)?”
  3. If you missed your stop or if you don’t know where to get off:
    “Driver, I think I missed my stop. I want to go to the Millennium Library.”
    “Can you tell me where I should get off for the Cindy Klassen swimming pool? I have never been there before.”
  4. If you want to make sure that you catch the next bus (transfer) and you see it at the next stop:
    “I need to get on bus number___ over there. Will it be possible for you to let the driver know?”
  5. If you are lost:
    “I’m sorry, I think I am on the wrong bus. I want to go to the Millennium Library. Can you please help me get on the right bus?”

    Dialogues adapted from the Winnipeg Transit Workshop for Service Providers handout Talking to the bus driver by Gerry Pearson.

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