On April 25, Edmonton Transit rolled out its redesigned bus network, but new routes do not mean more routes. ETS changed hundreds of routes and completely removed about 100 more. While the City promises the core routes will be more frequent and direct, reactions from Edmontonians have been mixed.
Last week, Edify ran a poll on our website to see what our readers think about the change; 18 per cent of voters said their transit use will decrease because of the new system.
Longer commute times and an increase in transfers are some reasons people are planning to limit their transit use. We used the ETS Trip Planner to better understand how long it will take to get from opposite ends of the city with the current routes. (Ed. note: We chose not to send staff on a series of bus rides because of COVID-19 concerns. Unless you absolutely have to get to an essential service, this is not the time to be on any sort of shared ride.)
To get from the Castle Downs Family YMCA on the north side to the Grey Nuns Community Hospital on the south side will take upwards of an hour and a half. According to Google Maps, the estimated arrival time by car is about 34 minutes. Transit riders will also have to transfer three to four times and walk to their destination.
Going west to east is a similar situation. It will take a rider leaving from Lewis Estates Golf Course between an hour and a half to two and a half hours to go across the city to The Meadows Community Recreation Centre. These trips also include three to four transfers depending on the route. By car, this trip takes 25 to 35 minutes.
To drive from Rundle Park in northeast Edmonton to Rogers Place downtown will take approximately 17 minutes. Taking transit will take about an hour with minimum two transfers. Coming downtown from the south side takes about the same time. South Edmonton Common to City Hall will take approximately an hour to commute by ETS with a minimum of two transfers.
The new routes haven’t deterred all public transit users. Seventeen per cent of our readers said their transit use will stay the same.
On the other ends of the spectrum, nine per cent of voters said they would stop using transit completely, while five per cent said they would increase their transit use. Edmonton hasn’t updated the bus network in two decades and the goal for the recent changes was to integrate more buses into suburban neighbourhoods. This allows people who didn’t have immediate access to transit the opportunity to utilize the bus system more frequently now. ‘
It’s also important to note that 50 per cent of poll voters said they do not use public transit at all. Will the new routes get them to ride, or will they stay away?