The City of Edmonton says it’s made adjustments to its Bus Network Redesign project after receiving input from residents.
The city said after public feedback was collected between April and June, the changes made include:
- Ensuring the walking distance to bus stops is no more than five to seven minutes in most neighbourhoods
- Adjusting community bus routes to serve more popular destinations
- Revamping the entire Caste Downs bus network to provide better connection to local transit centres
“Edmontonians are passionate about their transit service and shared a lot of suggestions with us,” said Eddie Robar, Edmonton Transit Service branch manager.
“Our transit planning team spent the summer carefully reviewing all of the input and I’m pleased to say we adjusted about 20 per cent of the proposed routes to better meet transit customer needs.”
The public feedback included 24 in-person workshops, five additional workshops with target groups, such as seniors, and online surveys.
The city said the current network will be replaced by 2020 with a new network that will have five different route types: bus rapid transit, frequent bus routes, rapid bus routes, crosstown routes and local routes.
The proposed changes will mean fewer bus stops — and therefore, some longer walks to reach those bus stops — because the city is planning to cut the number of routes in half. There are currently about 200 ETS bus routes and the changes will bring that down to about 100.
The changes would also mean riders wouldn’t wait as long for a bus ride. However, they could increase walk times to bus stops from about five minutes to up to 10 minutes.
“We weren’t looking to save money with these changes, we were looking to reinvest,” Robar said.
“As we started to look at the frequency of service and redefining the network itself, it was about taking the savings we got from that to reinvest back in our service.
“That’s what gave us the ability to increase our frequencies, that’s what gave us the ability to increase our service span of day, add service to our Saturdays and Sundays.”
The ETS Advisory Board has expressed frustration about the length of time to implement the new network.
“We want to make sure we get it right,” said Sarah Feldman, director of planning and scheduling for Edmonton Transit. “We want to hear from people in communities, which takes time.”
In its summary of findings from the public feedback, the city said residents are learning “on the fly” about the redesign and have concerns about losing certain services rather than what will be gained. The findings say residents also see benefits such as increasing frequency and offering more direct service to major destinations.
The routes are largely set for the redesign but the city is looking to get more feedback. The final phase of public engagement for the project will be conducted from Oct. 25 until Dec. 9.
The bus network redesign was first introduced after council passed the transit strategy on July 11, 2017.
— With files from Emily Mertz