As some of you may already know, Edmonton’s bus routes will be going through city-wide changes next week. After many months of research and route studies, the City will be paring back certain bus routes and reallocating “bus hours” from low ridership routes to high ridership ones.
Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) has a service standard for bus ridership of above 30 during peak hours (roughly 6:30AM-9AM, and 3:30PM-5PM) and above 15 during off-peak hours. The costs of operating buses below these service standards is significantly higher than those operating above them. It is fiscally responsible and imperative that we make these reductions and reallocations in order to ensure the long-term viability of our transit system.
For southwest Edmonton, most bus routes will be largely unscathed, save for some tweaks which are outlined here. At first glance the 2017 Reallocation Plan may look like it is making large-scale reductions of many core bus routes but a closer look at the “Cancelled Trips” column shows that most routes are only being adjusted slightly and not dramatically altered. The routes in Ward 10 that will be seeing changes are: Route 17, 42, 44, 45, 50, 52, and 334.
One particular noteworthy change for Ward 10 is the Route 42 bus in Blue Quill. It will receive a reduction that will change morning and evening commutes. It’s AM peak service and PM peak service will both be cancelled. However, these will be supplemented by the Route 41 and 43 buses nearby.
TRANSIT REVIEW COMING
All of these reductions and reallocations are a part of the City of Edmonton’s move to create a smarter transit system that serves as many people as possible while also being financially sound. While transit will never be a money-maker for the City, it is important that we are mindful of its financial impact. Read the proposed new Transit Strategy Concept report here.
There are very genuine concerns around the reduction of community bus routes, which, while low in ridership, offer a crucial service to those who use them and they are not easily replaced for those with limited mobility.
Elise Stolte wrote an article in February of this year that outlined my thoughts for four ways that we can ensure that seniors and others with limited mobility can still access amenities and aren’t left in urban isolation. There should be no trade-off between living independently and being able to access transportation.
The four solutions I propose to meet this challenge are; community buses, mixed use communities, pedestrian shortcuts, and a senior smart card.
THE STORY OF ROUTE 55
The Route 55 in Lendrum Place is the perfect example of a community bus that was on the chopping block, but after consultations with the community was determined to be of critical importance for many of the residents and seniors there, and mid-day service was restored by combining Route 55 with Route 327.
Much like the Route 55 in Lendrum, there are many community buses that provide an essential service and one that seniors are willing to pay for. This could potentially lead to a unique community bus fare that is higher to offset the higher cost of maintenance.
With the Reallocation plan, we are moving forward with an ambitious vision to make Edmonton transit more responsive to demand while also ensuring that all citizens have access to a bus route within walking distance of their house.