When it comes to creating a well built and well-run city, the importance of transit can hardly be overstated. Each year, roughly ~100 million trips are taken on ETS buses or the LRT. This represents a significant amount of people and that percentage will only grow as we expand our LRT system. During my first term on Council, we have taken action on a number of different programs to modernize and enhance our public transit system.
While I am an advocate for a more responsive transit system that services high-frequency bus routes- as looks to be the likely outcome of our current transit review, it is my firm conviction that this should never come at the cost of a community’s mobility options, particularly for seniors. Aging in place is an ideal I wholly support, the ideal that as people age they are able to do so in the comfort of their own homes. A large part of aging in place comes down to mobility, specifically accessible options aside from driving. This is why I have committed to exploring alternatives to the outright elimination of community buses and have held public consultations with communities in the past regarding their community bus. In the case of the Route 55 bus in Lendrum, the outcome of the consultation was to continue with an adapted, less frequent, but still reliable route as the bus was deemed essential for the community.
I, alongside Council, have championed a regional transit strategy wherein Edmonton and the greater metro region all operate under a larger integrated system. To start, I have worked on a Committee to establish an agreement between St. Albert and Edmonton to operate a commuter bus service between the two municipalities, which is to be operated under a newly formed Transit Commission.
MODERNIZING THE REGION
Additionally, we have looked at ways to improve efficiencies for the already existing systems. For example, our Smart Fare system, which will launch in 2020, eliminates the need for folks leaving or coming into Edmonton to buy tickets for multiple areas and will also enhance transit connectivity throughout the metro region. Smart Fare will dispense with the need for old school transfers and will provide trans-region smart fare cards to be loaded up by bus riders for convenient use. This will be a much more efficient way of doing bus fare and will allow for more flexibility for riders. We have been exploring the idea of a Smart Fare system since the early 2010’s, and it will finally be implemented in 2020.
Edmonton’s Smart Bus project, first introduced in 2011, was implemented in full during the 2013-2017 council term. The Smart Bus project equipped all buses with GPS devices for real time tracking, automated stop announcements, automated vehicle monitoring, and a host of other features. These all allow for a more accessible, safe, and responsive bus system that is better for Edmontonians and for drivers.