City of Edmonton provides 1st interim report reviewing bus network redesign

City administration has been monitoring the performance of Edmonton’s bus network redesign, which launched in April 2021 and was the first major revision in years.

A report presented at Wednesday’s executive committee meeting noted although overall transit ridership across Canada is low due to the pandemic, Edmonton’s ridership has been steadily climbing since it began.

Ridership is currently sitting at the highest level since March 2020, the report said. That month is when the COVID-19 pandemic swept across Alberta, causing thousands of people who used to commute to begin working from home.

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On-demand transit service ridership has also risen steadily and is currently averaging about 6,000 rides per week.

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“The bus network is aligned with City Plan goals and provides a solid foundation for future growth,” the report reads.

“Upcoming reports in 2022 will provide more in-depth exploration of expansion and growth opportunities, sustainable funding, and additional equity measures.”

The report said ridership peaked at 58 per cent of pre-pandemic levels but it’s currently sitting a bit lower because of the fifth wave of COVID-19. There’s hope for a full recovery by the end of 2023.

According to the report, virtually every route was revised.

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It says the new network is more direct, avoids overlap, and maintains speed and reliability along bus routes, while using the same amount of buses, operators and budget.

The city says riders have told them the new system offers better connections, simpler routes and more frequent buses.

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The report noted more than 50 service adjustments have been made since the launch including:

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  • Service from West Edmonton Mall to Edmonton Valley Zoo
  • Service between Northgate and Clareview on 137 Avenue on Saturday morning, Saturday evening, and Sunday morning.
  • Early morning trips added to routes such as 1, 2,7, 54
  • More on-demand connections to Leger Transit Center added on Dec 13, 2021

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi noted more changes to the bus network redesign are needed.

“As we listen to Edmontonians and find out what are some of the challenges are — one is absolutely long distance for people to walk to a bus stop, particularly people with accessibility needs,” Sohi said Wednesday.

“In some cases, there’s no on-demand service that is available.”

The city said it is listening and adapting. An equity analysis of the transit network and evaluation of the on-demand service will be discussed in the fall.

“As we go on this, we need to make sure that we continue to improve our public transit service for Edmontonians,” Sohi said.

The report noted rider feedback can be submitted through 311, feedback forms, rider inquiries and council.

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