IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Readers asked, Metro answered: We get you up to speed on Edmonton issues most important to you
Metro examines some of the main issues discussed during the 2017 municipal elections and those of top interest to you. You can also go to metronews.ca for detailed information on each ward and links to candidates’ websites. Election day is Oct. 16. KAsHmALA FIdA meTro edmonTon
Whether it’s bus or LRT, city council has made notable changes to how Edmontonians use transit to move around the city — and those decisions are shaping up to be a major force in Monday’s election.
Metro did an online poll to ask readers which election issues you wanted to know more about, and the top answer, by far, was public transit.
Transit reared its head in almost every councillor and mayoral candidate forum.
According to Twitter Canada, Edmontonians have tweeted about transit in regard to the election about 2,130 times — twice the number of times infill, the next most popular topic, was mentioned.
So here’s a backgrounder on the debate about transit to help you make a decision about where a candidate stands on transit.
One of the biggest concerns for bus riders this year was the new transit strategy the city introduced in July, which will see more high-frequency routes in the core, at the expense of local bus routes in the suburbs.
The changes have been applauded by those who say busing will now be easier for people living centrally, but critics have wondered what this means for seniors and those with disabilities.
“I feel like city council is treating transit users like a cost-effectiveness study and not a public service as it should be,” rider Jared Pachan told Metro back in July.
Pachan was a frequent user of the 103 route, that no longer runs on weekends and evenings.
Meanwhile, LRT construction in the city continues, with ripple effects for both transit riders and drivers.
Some new LRT services have been slow to get up to speed, there’s a lack of parking at park and rides at Century Park or Clairview, making the service difficult to use.
Valley Line LRT
The long-awaited new Valley Line LRT was planned to make the commute easier for people travelling between downtown and the south side.
Council approved $1.8 billion for the 13-kilometre infrastructure project in 2012, a price tag which includes maintenance for the next 30 years.
Some mayoral candidates have raised concerns. Steve Shewchuk called it too expensive and Carla Frost, who has a farming background, said people in her position would not find LRT useful.
Others, including incumbent Mayor Don Iveson, have come out in favour of transit, with plans to expand the network.
Sandeep Agrawal, director of the urban and regional planning program at the University of Alberta, notes that LRT issues like noise and disruption are only temporary.
“I think with the new LRT coming in, it will have some impact on our cultural values as Edmontonians and hopefully it will take us off our cars and sort of push us into using more public transit,” he said.
Kevin Tuong/edmonTon Freelance