Nearly one year after opening, the Heritage Valley park and ride in south Edmonton is not living up to its potential.
The lot at Ellerslie Road and 127 Street was created to replace the previously crowded Century Park lot. That busy facility lost space to development.
Unlike Century Park, Heritage Valley does not currently have LRT service.
The Capital Line LRT is expected to expand to Ellerslie Road eventually but an exact timeline has not been approved.
In the meantime, buses shuttle riders to and from Century Park for free from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays.
The Heritage Valley lot boasts 1,100 stalls. The city expected between 2,000 and 2,500 riders each day on average.
Currently, the space is seeing about 388 rides per day on average.
Last Friday, both the Edmonton Oilers and Elks were playing at home. A Global News camera captured just half a dozen vehicles in the lot at game time.
The city believes COVID-19 is to blame.
“We have a large group of post secondary students who take transit,” said Edmonton Transit Service branch manager Carrie Hotton-MacDonald.
“It’s definitely had an impact on ridership and, again, looking at people whose needs have changed, so whether it’s work related, maybe they’re working from home or their job situation has changed.”
Hotton-MacDonald said ridership is down across the network with demand sitting at about half of what it was pre-pandemic. She said that is consistent with what other large cities are seeing.
The new city councillor in the area expressed concern over transit service as a whole in the area.
Jennifer Rice said some areas are extremely underserved while others are overserved. She heard from voters who said the recent bus network redesign made service too inconvenient.
“People don’t like to see empty buses or empty LRT. They think this is a waste of resources,” said Rice.
Rice and other new councillors have expressed a desire for the bus network redesign to be reassessed.
The Heritage Valley park and ride would not be included in any second look at the issue. Instead, the city said it expected spaces will fill as the pandemic ends and LRT service begins.
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