June 8, 2023

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Edmonton transit users offer mixed reviews after revamp of system launches Sunday

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Longer commute times, further walking distances to the nearest stops, but also more frequent service in certain corridors were some of the mixed reviews from transit users on the first day of Edmonton’s new bus network.

New bus routes hit the streets in Edmonton Sunday morning as part of the first transit overhaul in more than two decades.

Edmontonians who rely on the transit system will need to adjust their commutes to move around the city. The new bus network has about 100 fewer routes. Those service hours are reinvested in buses and more frequent service on routes connecting different quadrants of Edmonton.

That means some Edmonton residents will benefit from the changes, and others will suffer. More than 60 people responded to a survey conducted by Postmedia asking how the new routes would impact them. Many said it would increase walking and trip times, so much so that it’s no longer feasible to take transit.


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One said the new system prompted her to get her driver’s license because what was a 13-minute commute home from work on one bus has turned into a 37-minute ride requiring two buses.

Others said it will allow them to use transit more by offering more direct routes along main streets. One transit rider was thrilled to see 15-minute frequency for a Sunday trip, which wasn’t common in the previous network.

Edmonton resident Lincoln Ho, who has been following the city’s process in redesigning the routes, said the new system is less reliable and will have an impact on seniors who were familiar with the old structure.

“Under the (new) system I can go to popular places easily, so that’s fine. But if I need to go to obscure places or even to work, I can’t do that and I’m not the only one who feels that way,” he said. “People have been taking transit for 60 to 70 years and suddenly their bus is gone.”

Starting Sunday, nine “frequent routes” with single-digit bus numbers will run in central areas of the city at least every 15 minutes during peak periods and six “crosstown routes” with double-digit numbers will connect transit centres in different quadrants of the city, like West Edmonton Mall and Mill Woods.

Edmonton Transit is encouraging residents to use the Transit app or the online trip planner to look at the new options available to them on the system. For 37 neighbourhoods and 16 seniors residences without a bus stop within 600 metres, this includes a new on-demand transit shuttle service that will take riders from their communities to a nearby transit hub in order to connect to the service.


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Transit users in these designated communities can download the Edmonton On Demand Transit app, use an online account or call 780-496-2400 to book a trip.

Carrie Hotton-MacDonald, branch manager for the Edmonton Transit Service, said she is confident this is the right plan after extensive consultation with the public in crafting the new routes. She said the service is open to making slight tweaks once data starts to roll in on ridership and demand. But big changes, such as new routes, won’t be proposed for 12 to 18 months.

“I think overall, I’m confident. I think this is the right plan,” she said. “We did a deep dive and came up with that high-frequency corridor and a plan that ensures people can get to where they need to go.”

The city will be providing updates to council every six months.

Postmedia will continue to follow how these changes are impacting transit riders. Will your commute be longer or shorter? Do you need to walk further or transfer more? Are you likely to use transit less, or more?

Fill out this survey to help us better understand how the new design is impacting you, or email journalist Dustin Cook at duscook@postmedia.com.




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