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ETS Bus and General Transit Improvements

City's transit rollbacks worsening some commutes, riders say
Some transit riders are calling on the city to reinstate higher levels of bus service to their routes, after they say recent rollbacks have worsened their commutes.

“I feel like city council is treating transit users like a cost-effectiveness study and not a public service as it should be,” said rider Jared Pachan, who connects to the 103 from his house in Ormsby to the West Edmonton transit hub.

It’s been two weeks since the city reduced service on 70 routes they say are underperforming, arguing they have to provide value for taxpayer dollars.

Though the city has said the reductions are expected to only affect less than one per cent of riders, and that 23 routes will return to normal this fall, the changes just aren’t jiving with some users.

The 103 bus, Pachan's route, no longer runs on weekends or weekday evenings.

This means people are without their regular bus stop, and are getting off at ones that are much further from home, he said.

“Anyone living past Donsale (a community in West Edmonton) has to walk through a ravine to get home,” he said. “This doesn’t affect me, but it matters.”
In Canadian cities, can ride shares fill the public transit void?
In an effort to save on growing public transit costs, some Canadian cities are turning to private ride share companies to fill a void in what has been traditionally left to city services.

But what isn’t clear is whether or not subsidizing these companies, like Uber, will actually benefit cities, according to Jon Orcutt, the communication director with the TransitCenter, a New York-based research foundation that advocates for better transit.

“There’s nothing out there saying, ‘Oh we’re saving million of dollars and we’re serving more people,’” he said.

The organization has studied cities that have added ride shares to the public transit mix. Here’s what they found.
Edmonton hiring Winnipeg’s New Flyer Industries to provide city with 110 clean diesel buses
New Flyer Industries Canada ULC has won a contract to provide the City of Edmonton with 110 clean diesel heavy-duty transit buses, as well as options by the city to purchase an additional 120 buses.

The company says the buses will be deployed on the Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) network starting 2018, supporting routes that move more than 300,000 people per day.

It says Edmonton’s replacement of aging fleet vehicles with more efficient, air-conditioned models is part of the city’s goal to transform riders’ transit experience.
Edmonton's transit network receives 'B' grade on new report card
Edmonton’s transit network has made strides to be proud of, but the city’s got some homework to do before earning an “A” grade, says a transportation advocate and city councillor from British Columbia.

Nathan Pachal is the co-founder of South Fraser OnTrax, a sustainable transit organization and a councillor in Langley.

He recently compiled the 2017 Transit Report Card of Major Canadian Regions and granted Edmonton a “B” grade. That’s down from an “A” in 2013.

The grades are based on numbers the municipalities provided to the Canadian Urban Transit Association in 2015, so they don’t cover recent transit configurations.

But the numbers still provide valuable insight into where Edmonton leads and where there’s room for improvement, Pachal said. The report compares Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto/Hamilton.

“Edmonton, specifically one area where they have a claim to fame is the lowest operating cost per service hour ($146.10) in the nation,” Pachal said. “That’s a really good thing to be proud of.”
Edmonton could begin getting out of the diesel bus system in 2020
Edmonton Transit has been given the go ahead to purchase its fleet of electric buses. It marks what will be the end of an era. After 2020, the city likely will be past the point of ever buying diesel buses again.

“If we’re able to construct Ferrier Garage quickly then it could be 2020,” ETS general manager Eddie Robar confirmed after gaining approval Tuesday from city council’s executive committee.

“It depends on that Ferrier Garage construction.”

He said the conversion and construction cost of the southeast Edmonton facility will be somewhere between $10 million and $20 million.

“That will give us a capability, capacity of 120 vehicles. So that gives us two years of purchases where we can switch from diesel to electrics. But we have to have that facility complete before we can do that.”

Edmonton plans to buy only electric transit buses beginning in 2020
Edmonton plans to stop buying diesel transit buses and only buy electric buses in three years, according to the Edmonton Transit Service.

"It's a goal, for sure," said ETS branch manager Eddie Robar on Tuesday.

The city tested electric buses last winter with positive results, he said.

It's looking at electric buses that can run for at least 500 kilometres on a single charge.

"Those buses are available now," said Robar. "The bus can be out there for an entire day."

The city is now looking for a vendor for the buses.

The competition closes September 12 and the intention is to be negotiating with a vendor by November, he added.

The switch to electric has to be made gradually because right now the city doesn't have the capacity to house and charge e-buses, said Robar.

"If we're able to construct Ferrier Garage quickly, it could be 2020," said Robar.

Edmonton could quit buying diesel buses by 2020: transit chief
Edmonton looking to improve transit for city visitors
The city of Edmonton is trying to make transit more user-friendly for tourists.

Edmonton city council's urban planning committee met on Wednesday to discuss seven recommendations put forward by the Edmonton Transit System Advisory Board.

The recommendations include identifying a transit hub to connect the local bus and LRT network with regional transportation services; offering fare options specifically for tourists; and using meaningful names, labels and symbols that are easily identifiable to visitors.

A review of service to key tourist destinations and a possible partnership between the Edmonton Transit Service and the hospitality industry are also on the list of ideas.
Izak Roux is a member of the advisory board.

Roux said making improvements to the 747 airport bus route should be a priority as it is the easiest recommendation to implement.

"First of all, to get on a 747 bus you need cash. How many tourists, especially from out of country, arrive and have cash available," Roux said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM on Sept. 1.

Roux also identified signage as an issue. One particular difficulty for tourists is identifying how to get between LRT stations and buses.

At the committee meeting on Wednesday, Roux said there needs to be ongoing conversations about identifying a transit hub.

"I think it's something we should address to interface with those regional services. Especially since some of them were moved out of the downtown area it's now a major issue for tourists coming in or going out of the city," he said.

City reviewing better transportation plan for tourists
With seven million tourists flocking to Edmonton annually, there’s a pressing need for a better transit system, the Urban Planning Committee heard Wednesday.

The committee discussed creating a central hub station in Edmonton and improving the transit system from the airport and Greyhound bus terminal.

“For five, six months we have been looking at how the transit system serves visitors to Edmonton,” said Izak Roux, chairperson of the Edmonton Transit System (ETS) Advisory Board.

Transit from the airport was heavily discussed, as the subsidy contract for the airport bus 747 route came to an end in April.

ETS branch manager Eddie Robar suggested Kingsway station as the hub due to its proximity to the Greyhound station.

“I’m looking at regional connectivity,” said Robar. “So how do we get our bus system, LRT system and Greyhound system connected together?”

Transit advisory board calls for central hub to help tourists navigate city
Economist pitches benefits of late-night transit to Edmonton city council
Edmonton’s chief economist has told city council one key to attracting and retaining a young, smart and motivated workforce is to provide late-night public transit.

And bike lanes.

On Wednesday, John Rose walked city council through some projections of what to expect during the council term. He said brain power in professional services is what will be the engine that runs things economically as Edmonton diversifies.

“The energy sector isn’t going away,” Rose said. “It’s just not going to drive the economy.”

However, amenities aimed at young people will make a difference as an investment, he said.

“I think we have to work much more closely with our post-secondary institutions in terms of ensuring that the city provides the necessary transportation and other services to them to ensure that their students have a good experience,” Rose said.

“We don’t need a full-fledged, all-night transit service but we certainly need [it] on key routes… that people can rely on for shift workers.”

Edmonton economist calls for late-night transit as key for city future
Public transit, especially late-night transit, is the No. 1 investment Edmonton could make to help transition to a less oil-dependent economy, the city’s economist told council Wednesday.

“It’s those very simple things that would make a big difference. … (It) demonstrates the city welcomes young people, late-night activities,” said John Rose, painting a picture of the challenge Edmonton faces to diversify as the energy sector weakens.

Rose was giving an initial overview of Edmonton’s economy to the new council, setting the stage for budget debates this fall. He picked late-night transit as the top investment out of a range of other initiatives to support culture and recreation and attract talent.

Professional services is the new key driver of Edmonton’s economy, said Rose, pointing to Stantec and PCL as success stories. They started out focused on the oil and gas sector, but are now global companies with expertise in many fields.


City economist John Rose after speaking with city council Nov. 1, 2017. ELISE STOLTE
Already, Edmonton has its affordability, quality of life and relative lack of congestion, he said, but it also needs to be seen as an interesting place, with culture and recreational activities to do in the evening.

For shift workers and young people going out on Jasper or Whyte Avenue, “we need to provide a good, safe, reliable means for them to get around,” said Rose, who doesn’t own a car himself.
Looks like ETS recently took delivery of sixteen new 30' "Vicinity" buses by Grande West Transportation. These are about 10' shorter than the standard New Flyer stock, to be used on lower-rider community routes. They also include air conditioning, as apparently will the next order of 40'-ers.





Edmonton Transit Service - ETS added 4 new photos.
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We got shiny new buses from Santa over the holidays, and we can’t wait to roll these out next year! These 30’ buses will service community routes. Plus, we’ll get brand new standard sized 40’ buses to replace our older ones. Psst...both of these buses come with air conditioning too (we know, we can’t wait until summer either). Stay tuned for more details in the new year!
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Mayor sets sights on free transit for youth 12 and under
Mayor Don Iveson has asked city administration to look into the financial implications of allowing children 12 and under to ride ETS for free.

Currently, only children under five can ride transit for free.

During his election campaign last year, Iveson promised to look into increasing the age of children riding the bus for free to make Edmonton “Canada’s most family-friendly city”.

“It’s really just to make it easier for all families but particularly low-income families to be more mobile, and to get out and enjoy the city," Iveson said, after making the information request to administration at a council meeting on Tuesday.

He says the change would help manage congestion during busy events.

Ahmed Bushiha, a downtown resident, says he would "very much encourage” the change as he would prefer to take transit with his eight-year-old son more frequently.

“If it’s free, I would take my son to his school on the LRT instead of in the car,” he said.
The City released draft network maps of the proposed bus network on the 22nd:

Nothing really revolutionary as far as I can tell, even the routes themselves look a lot like existing ones. Mainly looks like some routes will be upgraded to Rapid routes, but the addition of Crosstown routes is interesting, though their low frequency might limit their usefulness. Guess we'll see how well used they end up being.