As much as I’m sure most Edmontonians are ecstatic about the constant stream of LRT announcements, it’s nice to hear something positive about bus service.
Dubbed “premium bus service,” routes with dedicated lanes, control over traffic signals, and limited stopping are planned to serve north, west, and southeast Edmonton.
Each of the routes serves corridors that have been under consideration for LRT service at one time or another, with the potential to serve as precursors to further LRT extension.
Unfortunately, this approach continues the focus on one demographic, one time of day, and one destination: Downtown peak hour office commuters.
All of Edmonton’s planned LRT runs through downtown, as do the planned premium bus routes.
The upshot is the system is first and foremost geared to serve white-collar commuters. However, three out of four transit trips are made by bus, in many cases along corridors that will never be served by LRT.
If your daily trips don’t take you to or through downtown, LRT might not be as important as, say, a bus that runs more than once an hour and outside weekday peaks. Unfortunately, previous promises to rectify that have yet to be fulfilled.
With LRT unlikely to purposefully venture into the city’s great swaths of industrial land, that means entire sectors of the economy may continue to go drastically underserved by transit.
While many parts of the bus network would be good candidates for “premium bus service,” the rest needs to at least be “OK bus service” to start.
It’s been promised over and over again, but maybe it needs some branding: “Introducing buses on reasonably straight routes that run during early evenings every half-hour: Edmonton’s new and improved OBS routes!”