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ETS Bus and General Transit Improvements


Staff member
Member Bio
Sep 22, 2015
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Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Plan would scale back Edmonton transit routes where near-empty buses costing city $9.50 a ride
Edmonton Transit officials have a plan to deal with overcrowded and late-running buses by cutting service on several little used routes.

The plan would leave some neighbourhoods completely without service on evenings and with minimal service on weekends. But those routes are run with buses so empty, the city ends up subsidizing each ride by $9.50, according to a report bound for transportation committee Wednesday.

“We know we have over-crowding and on-time performance issues on some of our busiest routes,” said Mayor Don Iveson.

“It will have an effect on some people,” he said of the plan. “We understand that. But when it’s costing us $9.50 a ride for service for less than 10 people per hour, while we have others literally being left at the curb on our busiest routes, I think it’s a prudent decision.”

Full Story (Edmonton Journal)
Edmonton transit strategy gets to hard choices
Sara Feldman, a transit project manager, said after a lengthy conversation about what people want in Edmonton's system, it’s time to move into the trade-offs.

“It’s hard for people to make choices between those things, so we wanted to illustrate some of the benefits and the impacts of choosing one over the other,” Feldman said.

As part of the city's ongoing transit strategy, Edmontonians must now make some hard choices, with questions moving beyond what they want and towards what they’re willing to trade.

Through online surveys, public consultations and even surveys aboard transit buses, people will be asked to weigh in on whether transit should reach every corner of the city or provide fast service on major routes.

In the frequency versus coverage debate, for example, the city suggests that could mean the difference between a five-minute walk to a bus station or a 10-minute walk.

Full Story (Metro Edmonton)

This week’s report highlights a couple of interesting facts. The routes where ridership is low – in some cases averaging 8 riders per hour – cost the City an average of $9.50 per trip to operate. That’s a $6 loss for the City on each and every trip. Conversely, the average cost per trip across the entire system is $1.30. Broadly speaking, if we are looking at more efficient ways at delivering City services, our transit system is a great place to start. Secondly, the report reminds us that a February audit of ETS reliability showed a decline in the on-time performance of the system and it is falling below the threshold set out in the City’s policy. Reallocation of resources to high demand routes will increase the system’s overall reliability and get us closer to our target of 90% of trips departing within 3 minutes of their scheduled time.
Edmonton councillors stand firm on bus schedule changes
Edmonton councillors listened to numbers and not pleas from one local community Wednesday as it pushed ahead to eliminate under-used bus services.

Councillors approved a plan from administration to shift 50,000 hours of service from routes that see few passengers to routes that see far higher demand.

But Mike Cooper and several other members of the Riverdale Community asked council not to go ahead with planned cuts to Saturday service in their community.

He said they wanted a year to work with the city to try and improve ridership, because getting out of the Riverside community is not easy.

“It’s not like we could just walk out, there is the river and the river banks that close us in,” he told councillors.

Full Story (Metro Edmonton)
A Changing Downtown With No Room For Greyhound

Since June, when Greyhound relocated its Edmonton station from downtown to the edge of the suburbs, Canada's fifth-largest city has no public transit connection with long-haul bus services.
Little is being done to change a situation that sees a central transit node located in the city's hinterlands, 3.5 miles from the core.

"There are no current plans to provide a separate bus route to the Greyhound site as the service is unfunded and there isn't evidence of enough demand to attract a minimum of 30 passenger boardings per hour," said Jennifer Laraway, a spokesperson for Edmonton's transit service.
Track ETS buses anywhere, any time with real-time information
October 24, 2016

Media are invited to join ETS Branch Manager Eddie Robar for a demonstration of how Smart Bus technology allows ETS riders to track their bus in real time on every route in the city. All 928 buses in the ETS fleet are now Smart Bus equipped, completing a $18 million project which was started in 2011. Jake Sion, Chief Operating Officer, for the “transit” app will also make a presentation.

Date: Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Time: Noon
Location: Media Room, Second Floor, City Hall
For more information:

Media contact:
Matty Flores
Communications Advisor
Smart Bus tech tracks ETS buses any time, anywhere
October 25, 2016

Waiting for the bus in Edmonton will never be the same again. Edmonton Transit System (ETS) has installed Smart Bus technology on all 928 buses in its fleet, allowing riders to check when their bus is coming before they head to any one of 7,300 bus stops.

“A full bus fleet with Smart Bus technology is an incredible accomplishment for ETS,” said Eddie Robar, Branch Manager for ETS. “It improves the reliability, predictability and accessibility of transit service. The collection of data also assists transit planners when designing how service is delivered to citizens.”

Smart Bus technology shares real-time information about bus locations on every route, so that transit customers can track their bus on a mobile or desktop device. In addition to existing ETS real-time tools, ETS is recommending an internationally-used third-party app called “transit”. Surveys conducted by ETS determined this downloadable smartphone app is a popular choice among customers.The app features real-time schedules, departure alarms and system maps.

Real-time bus information is released through the City of Edmonton’s award-winning Open Data Catalogue. ETS began installation of Smart Bus technology in 2011. Total project cost was approximately $18 million.

For more information:

Media contact:
Matty Flores
Communications Advisor
Edmonton transit ready for bus route overhaul, suggests report
A new transit strategy heading to committee next week is recommending a major overhaul of Edmonton’s bus network.

Under the new strategy, buses would be reallocated from local, neighbourhood routes to create a network of frequent, easy-to-understand routes on the main roads inside the inner ring road. These would run all day to facilitate shorter trips to any destination.

In the outer suburbs, express buses would focus on getting people directly to a destination quickly during peak hours. These could have park-and-ride lots — potentially developer-funded and privately owned — serving people using transit for their daily commute.

Winding, neighbourhood routes would be cut back or redesigned across the city, but planners suggest they would maintain at least infrequent service near seniors’ homes or activity centres, group homes and schools.

The report goes to the urban planning committee for debate Wednesday. Edmonton defines the inner ring road as Yellowhead Trail, 170 Street, Whitemud Drive and 75 Street.
Edmonton transit study findings to hit council
A massive study on the city's transit system is set to go to council and that means major changes are likely on the horizon.

Sarah Feldman, the city’s general supervisor of transportation and policy, spent much of the last year gathering input from more than 20,000 residents on transit in the city, and said general themes have emerged: People in the core want more consistent service and those in the suburbs want an easier commute.

“There was also strong support for service that benefits all Edmontonians rather than just people who depend on transit,” Feldman said.

To that end, Feldman's and her team's report is calling for very frequent routes on major corridors, and more consistent service on evenings and weekends.
Council prepares for 'fear and anxiety' over first major transit overhaul since 1990s
A sober set of councillors voted to push ahead on a massive reworking of Edmonton’s bus system Wednesday, with some upset residents foreshadowing the controversy to come.

Even the relatively small changes implemented last September to shift service to higher demand routes left certain seniors stranded, said Lendrum resident Glenn Miller. After service to the grocery store at the Lendrum strip mall was cut, he found one 85-year-old woman waiting with her walker more than an hour before he informed her the bus would never come. Miller said the change hadn’t been well communicated.

At the urban planning committee meeting Wednesday, he accused Edmonton Transit of “elder abuse,” called for a council inquiry and threatened to make it an election issue.

But the changes introduced in September, including service cuts to Route 55 and 327, were tiny compared to the vision in draft form this spring.

Editorial: Let's see where new transit strategy takes Edmonton
December is a busy time of year, hardly a month to fill with leisurely reading. But for Edmontonians with an interest in how the city’s public transit system is organized, it is worth mulling the latest transit strategy report headed to council’s urban planning committee.

The report, which includes a summary of transit-related opinion from about 20,000 people, proposes a major overhaul of transit thinking that would, in essence, create different types of bus service depending on location.

It’s not a final plan. There are no lines on maps, yet. It is, however, the latest step to redrawing the city’s route maps and will form the foundation of what comes next — barring a change of thinking from council.
New camera system being tested on Edmonton city buses
Edmonton Transit is testing new camera technology starting this week to help drivers operate buses in a safer manner, says the head of the bus drivers' union.

The pilot project will see a monitor installed in the drivers compartment and live cameras on each of the four corners of the bus, said Steve Bradshaw, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569 president, Wednesday.

"(It) will show an around-the-vehicle view of what's out there," he said.

Two pedestrians have died recently in Edmonton after being struck by ETS buses.

Edmonton Transit to test new camera system on buses
City wants to prevent transit changes from isolating seniors
Edmonton’s plan to overhaul its transit system is bringing the plight of seniors without car keys into sharp relief.

Many rely on the existing service that winds its way slowly through curvilinear streets. Cutting back to focus on high-frequency main lines could leave them stranded, and some argue this gives Edmonton a chance to think critically about what seniors really need.

Ward 10 in Edmonton’s southwest has one of the highest percentages of seniors — nearly one in five residents were over 65 during the last municipal census. As transit officials design the backbone of this new high frequency system, we’re starting the conversation with Ward 10 Coun. Michael Walters. He pitched four ways to ensure a seniors’ decision to stay in the family home isn’t a recipe to age in isolation.
Edmonton Transit looks at forming partnership with Uber as it scales back on community bus routes
Edmonton Transit will ask city council for permission to explore partnerships with Uber or other taxi and ride-sharing companies as part of its shift to develop express routes in the suburbs.

In other North American cities, subsidizing Uber rides has proven cheaper than building park-and-ride lots or running half-empty buses. Edmonton’s transit strategy isn’t going to council until June, but transit officials already say this partnership pitch will be part of it.

“It’s back to the old dial-a-ride idea,” said transit strategist Sarah Feldman, looking for creative ways to get people from their home to an express bus stop since the move would involve scaling back on community buses. “We’re not sure what the business case would be or their interest. so we need to start having those conversations.”
Edmonton transit group starts study on future projects
Edmonton’s citizen-led transit group is kick-starting numerous projects this May, in an effort to tell city councillors later this year what needs to be done to boost ridership.

“We have to keep in mind the city has grown a lot in the last five years, but participation in transit hasn’t grown at the same rate,” said Izak Roux, chair of Edmonton Transit System Advisory Board, in an interview Wednesday.

“We’ll be falling behind if we don’t increase our ridership.”

The group will research various ideas over the next few months. They will present them to council by the end of this year or in early 2018, where councillors will decide to approve or reject the plans.

Metro chatted with Roux about the research projects, and what they could mean for current users and others thinking about taking transit in the future.
It might deserve its own thread, but I gotta say I would definitely be behind a gondola linking downtown to Whyte Ave.