Transit users have an opportunity to give their input for a redesigned bus network set to begin in the summer of 2020.
“It has been 20 years since we last redesigned the bus networks,” said Tarra Kongsrude, communications advisor for Edmonton Transit Service (ETS). “The population has grown and people’s needs have changed.”
Work on the redesign began three years ago when city staff collaborated with transit users to create the Transit Strategy, which outlines the priorities for development of the transit system over the next decade.
Kongsrude said the city discovered that transit users “wanted something that was faster, more frequent, and more reliable.”
Transit users had different priorities, depending on where they lived and on their needs. “We got different answers from different people who are in and outside of the Anthony Henday.”
For example, “people in the suburbs were most interested in commuting to work, while the millennials who live in the downtown core wanted to take transit throughout the day.”
Based on that feedback, five different types of routes are suggested: LRT and preliminary Bus Rapid Transit (frequent service via bus connections integrating with LRT stations); frequent routes (every 15 minutes from early morning to late evening); rapid bus routes (for suburbs without LRT service); crosstown routes (reach outer areas without going through downtown); and local routes (within 800 meters of home and connecting places like schools, shopping centres, and primary bus routes).
The plan is to cut 200 bus routes to 100, effectively eliminating any overlap. In order to simplify bus routes and increase service frequency, bus stops may be farther away.
“People may need to walk up to 10 minutes depending on the neighbourhood and number of local transit users,” said Kongsrude.
As for residents in the inner area of the city, such as RCP’s neighbourhoods, Kongsrude said, “If you’re in the inner core, I think you’ll be very happy.”
Franki Harrogate, a local resident, has her reservations about the change in service. “Never, in the history of anything, has cutting services served to boost usage of that service,” she said.
Kat McLeod, an Alberta Avenue resident, said, “I was happily surprised to see it looks like they are keeping the 143. Figured I would have to walk down to 118 [Ave] to get buses but apparently not.”
In the meantime, the city will be performing extensive public engagement to interact with transit users by showing them where the routes will be going and getting feedback. From April 12 to June 14, the city is arranging 24 drop-in workshops around Edmonton.
Transit users can view suggested changes. There is a detailed, interactive map, as well as maps for each route type and each quadrant of the city. View them online at edmonton.ca/newbusroutes.
“We’d really encourage you to come out to one of the engagement workshops just so you can get face-to-face explanations on what this means,” said Kongsrude.
For transit users, now is the time to give feedback about the suggested changes. Once those route changes are finalized in 2019, only minor changes will be made.
And it’s not just bus route changes being rolled out in the summer of 2020. The Valley Line SE LRT is opening then as well, and transit will be switching over to a Smart Fare electronic payment system. The Yellowhead Trail is also converting to a freeway over the next eight years, so bus route changes have to take that into consideration.
“We’re going to be doing a lot of exciting things to transform transit in Edmonton,” said Kongsrude.
Featured Image: Major changes in bus routes and transit are made about every 20 years. | City of Edmonton