Bus ridership on Edmonton Transit returns to pre-pandemic levels: city

Edmonton bus ridership reached 100 per cent of 2019 pre-pandemic levels in January 2023, the city said in a news release Friday.

Throughout the first month of 2023, ridership averaged approximately 1.2 million rides per week.

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At the height of the pandemic, in 2020, bus ridership in Edmonton dipped to 30 per cent of regular levels — about 350,000 rides per week. In January 2022, it climbed to 700,000 rides a week.

The city says Edmonton is one of the first large transit systems in Canada to reach this recovery milestone.

“This is an important achievement and sets us on a strong path towards full ridership recovery,” said Carrie Hotton-MacDonald, ETS branch manager. “It reinforces that transit is an important part of enabling mobility in the region.

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“Thank you to riders for choosing transit to connect with their communities and workplaces, as well as to ETS staff for their continued hard work and dedication.”

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Low ridership, destinationless passengers reason for reduced Edmonton Transit service

Ridership might still fluctuate in the months ahead, Hotton-MacDonald pointed out, but the numbers are encouraging.

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The city said several factors helped ETS bounce back, including that full-service levels continued throughout the pandemic and that enhancements were made to make it more accessible.

In March 2021, On Demand Transit was added as part of the Network Redesign. In November 2022, the electronic fare payment system ARC rolled out.

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Based on current ridership data, LRT ridership and paratransit service have also seen “consistent upward trends,” the city said.

Click to play video: 'ETS expands electronic fare system'

ETS expands electronic fare system

“We still have work ahead of us. We’re going to continue to implement changes to make transit more convenient, reliable and safe for Edmontonians,” Hotton-MacDonald said. “This year we will be making a number of service improvements to help build on this momentum.”

Those 2023 improvements include:

  • Adding 500 additional weekly off-peak bus service hours to address shifting demand for more service outside of peak morning and afternoon hours.
  • Expanding Arc to include more rider fare groups.
  • Hiring additional Transit Peace Officers to further improve safety.
  • Increasing On Demand Transit service.
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