October 7, 2015 11:28 am
Updated: October 7, 2015 2:06 pm

Council looking at bus rapid transit while Edmonton waits for LRT expansion

WATCH ABOVE: The Edmonton Transit Committee is exploring bus rapid transit. It's a network of buses that run outside the regular road system. Michel Boyer reports on the concept.

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EDMONTON – City council is considering implementing bus rapid transit as an interim method of providing transportation while Edmonton waits for future LRT expansion.

City of Edmonton administration presented the benefits of bus rapid transit to council on Wednesday morning.

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READ MORE: ‘The federal government is giving us $200 million less than what we need’: Edmonton councillor on LRT funding

The main difference between BRT and regular bus service is the use of dedicated lanes, which are often fully divided from other traffic. This would allow the buses to get to their destination more quickly.

According to the administration’s report, BRT also carries more passengers, runs more frequently, and offers greater reliability and convenience.

“I think it makes the city more aware that it’s time to look at this as an alternative to LRT and as a precursor to LRT,” said Izak Roux, ETS Advisory Board chair.

READ MORE: ‘It sounds like all the parties want to work with us’: Iveson on federal LRT funding

Compared to the LRT, the system is much cheaper in terms of infrastructure and capital costs, can be developed faster, and is less expensive to operate, the report read.

Roux suggested rezoning areas around future LRT lines, with a focus on serving high-density neighbourhoods.

“If we have to wait until 2020 or 2030 to get some services, we can always spend more money now on having more widespread BRT services, implemented as a forerunner to future LRT,” said Roux.

Edmonton Transit also argued bus rapid transit would improve the sustainability of Edmonton’s transit system, the financial resilience of the city, and Edmonton’s liveability.

Some councillors said they don’t want BRT to reduce lanes for vehicles.

Mayor Don Iveson said it’s something the city should consider. He believes BRT service could be a good alternative in areas where LRT expansion isn’t possible.

“In some places LRT doesn’t make sense. We’re not going to run LRT down 23 Avenue to connect Century Park and Mill Woods Town Centre, but that might be a really good place to run some kind of premium bus service,” said Iveson.

Full report below: 

Bus Rapid Transit Report

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