On April 25th, Edmonton’s Bus Network will change. In this blog post, I explain what is happening and how it impacts Ward Métis. In my next blog post, I’ll discuss what kind of transit we deserve going forward.
What is happening
The Bus Network Redesign has been shaping up over the past 4 years. The timeline below explains what has led to the upcoming changes taking effect on April 25th.
Jun 22, 2017 - 'It's a dramatic shift': Edmonton releases complete rethink of its transit network
Mar 29, 2018 - Edmonton slashes 100 routes in proposed new bus system
May 27, 2018 - Edmonton is considering slashing half its bus routes and making service more frequent instead — and residents have two more weeks to provide their input
Oct 12, 2018 - Facing complaints about walk times, Edmonton Transit adjusts bus route overhaul
Nov 26, 2019 - Edmonton’s city council voted to forge ahead with a long-discussed new bus network to roll out on the streets next August.
The last time Edmonton’s transit network was redesigned was in the late 1990s. At this time, Edmonton was about 600,000 people and the furthest south LRT Station was at the University of Alberta.
Now, we have a population of around 1 million residents and are about to open our first new LRT line in several years right through Ward Métis.
Residents may ask, “Why did we need a redesign of our bus system?”
A redesign was needed because Edmonton today is fundamentally different from the city that existed more than 20 years ago.
The existing bus system was built for the 1990s. Since then, we've grown and evolved. It's important that our transit system reflects that growth as well.
Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) is able to run a limited number of buses and staff based on the budget that City Council provides. Our city had a difficult task in redrawing routes, removing inefficiency, and adding service to areas that previously did not receive any without an increase in the budget.
The Bus Network Redesign focuses on shifting greater capacity towards more frequent service on main roadways in Edmonton. To do this, neighbourhood-oriented routes will run less frequently, provide less coverage within a neighbourhood, and/or be replaced with on-demand service.
On-demand service is transit that does not run on a fixed route and a fixed schedule. You are able to book a trip in one of three ways from a pick up location. You'll be picked up by a smaller bus or van to take you to another location.
On-demand service can be booked through the following ways:
Edmonton On Demand Transit App - through either Google Play or the Apple App Store and set up your account
Book online - Create and sign in to your account (https://eodt.app.ridewithvia.com/login)
Call Centre - An On Demand Transit representative will help you create an account and book your ride at 780-496-2400
There’s a saying in transit, “frequency = freedom.”
You can rely more on a bus when it comes more often. The redesign provides more frequent routes on major thoroughfares, making it easier to access important destinations and traverse the City. We all deserve a transportation system with reliable options, whether it’s by car, bus, walking, rolling, or biking. This redesign aims to make transit a more reliable option.
How this impacts Ward Métis
Many routes across the City will change, and Ward Métis is no exception. Large areas of Ward Métis are low-density and feature winding, curvilinear roadways. Areas like these are costly to provide transit in because busses must travel further and routes are less direct.
This is why focusing our growth on infill development, like garden suites and missing middle housing, as well as larger scale transit-oriented development (TOD) at sites like Bonnie Doon Mall and major corridors and transportation routes is important. We can more efficiently provide services, including transit, if we find ways to live and experience our city closer together.
Going forward, there are several major routes through Ward Métis, like along 118 Avenue, 101 Avenue and Whyte Avenue, that will feature more frequent service. However, many neighbourhoods will experience changes to their local routes, shifting towards less frequent schedules or to on-demand service.
A good example of this change in Ward Métis is King Edward Park.
The Bus Routes along Whyte Avenue will have more buses running on it, more frequently. In other words, instead of waiting 10-20 minutes for the next bus, you would wait 5-15 minutes.
Routes within the neighbourhood have been shifted to on-demand service. In other words, the 80/83/151 routes have been removed and replaced with on-demand service.
Here are all the areas within Ward Métis that will be receiving On-Demand Transit.
The orange and green zones below show on-demand areas in Ward Métis, and the dark blue icons show on-demand stops.
Here is an interactive map showing other locations that will receive On-Demand Service.
The new system should deliver the greatest good for the greatest number of Edmontonians, and get people to where they need to go faster, and more reliably. I understand there is concern and hesitancy from residents about the bus network redesign and on-demand transit. While this change is taking place immediately, if elected in October, I'll be prioritizing auditing the new system, paying close attention to metrics and listening to the experiences of transit users.
I look forward to sharing my ideas further regarding transit in my next blog post, up on Friday, April 24th.
Written by: Stephen Raitz & Ashley Salvador