One of the primary services available to all citizens in Edmonton is public transit. With a budget over $358 million dollars and more than 2000 employees, if Edmonton Transit is not considered an essential service it is certainly core to the City of Edmonton’s business operations. Operating at an annual deficit in 2017 of $220 million it is clear to say that Edmonton Transit is not a “break even” business and never will be. The City operates Transit at loss, “Why?”- Because it delivers a number of economic and social benefit. Without a good public transit system citizens and businesses both locally and regionally would suffer.
In July of 2017 Urban Planning Committee and subsequently Council passed a new bus network redesign initiative to better rationalize out the service routes. I argued at the time that it would be better to take a piece of the City and test out our model assumptions before rolling it out on to the entire city so we could keep service disruptions to a minimum. However I was voted down. Much like infill, playground speeds zones and calcium chloride I thought it was better to test things out before plastering the entire city with a one size fits all approach…at least that is what businesses in the real world tend to do.
Instead now we have a bus network redesign on first review that calls for reductions in stops, a decrease in accessibility with no clear measure(s) to its performance. To get a better understanding on the route changes I requested my staff to actually map out the proposed route changes as administration did not provide my office with any such graphic. The glaring service reductions became readily apparent – more frequency on our major bus routes for more money and less service in our neighborhoods – that is what I can see.
If you use public transit and more importantly need public transit to travel to and from work or essential services, you need to pay attention to this re-design. Please follow my link to what we have mapped out for the proposed route changes; I need your feedback now more than ever to make sure no one is left out in cold.