Walking complaints result in changes to bus routes
New version of final proposal restores ‘seniors routes’; increase in fares likely
Outcry against increased walking times in Edmonton’s bus route overhaul has Edmonton Transit pitching substantial changes to the final proposal.
The major redesign of bus routes throughout the city is still scheduled to roll out in mid 2020. But the change in walking distance will be much less dramatic for the majority of riders.
The principle is the same — transit riders will see increased frequency and better service on evenings and weekends if they agree to walk farther to a bus stop. But in the new plans, 83 per cent of riders are only being asked to walk 200 metres at most.
“The routes are (still) more direct, with less overlap and more frequency,” transit head Eddie Robar said at a Friday news conference to announce the changes.
But where riders identified big gaps in service through public consultations, transit planners made changes, adding more loops and extending the distance buses run.
“We’ve made a lot of adjustments based on what we heard,” Robar said. “We knew we would not get this right the first time.”
Transit officials are holding workshops to share the new route map with the public from Oct. 25 through Dec. 9. Locations and hours for each workshop in different quadrants of the city are posted online at edmonton.ca/ newbusroutes.
The plan and public feedback will come to council for approval next April. Officials are also starting work to develop the schedules, and plan a massive education campaign to run before the new design hits the streets in 2020.
The overhaul will be the biggest change Edmonton’s bus network has seen in decades.
“We white-boarded the entire network and redesigned from scratch,” said Robar.
The idea is to use the same $340-million transit budget but shift resources to more popular, direct routes to increase ridership. Robar said they ’re still working on targets and projections, but he believes increased ridership means increased fare revenue, which will in turn create more resources to offer even greater frequency.
This new version of the bus route redesign also restores “seniors routes,” which are off-peak routes connecting seniors centres, major seniors residences and shopping malls.
But it does mean much more walking for some areas. Two per cent of Edmonton residents will find themselves an additional 600 metres from their closest bus stop compared to today.
A few areas, like Cameron Heights, which is cut off from the rest of the city by the river, a ravine and Anthony Henday Drive, will have no service at all. For those low-ridership, disconnected areas, transit officials are exploring ondemand systems. A report on those kind of first-mile/last-mile solutions is going to council’s urban planning committee Nov. 13.
Edmonton Transit is also planning to roll out a new system of payment in 2020 that uses electronic cards to track fares.
We’ve made a lot of adjustments based on what we heard. We knew we would not get this right the first time.
“The routes are (still) more direct, with less overlap and more frequency,” transit head Eddie Robar said at a Friday news conference to announce additional changes to the city’s bus route overhaul.