News / Edmonton

Edmonton transit group starts study on future projects

From gondolas to heated bus shelters, there are lots of ways to improve the system, says Izak Roux

Izak Roux, chair of the Edmonton Transit System Advisory Board, says his group is beginning many projects this May.

Kevin Tuong / For Metro

Izak Roux, chair of the Edmonton Transit System Advisory Board, says his group is beginning many projects this May.

Edmonton’s citizen-led transit group is kick-starting numerous projects this May, in an effort to tell city councillors later this year what needs to be done to boost ridership.  

“We have to keep in mind the city has grown a lot in the last five years, but participation in transit hasn’t grown at the same rate,” said Izak Roux, chair of Edmonton Transit System Advisory Board, in an interview Wednesday. 

“We’ll be falling behind if we don’t increase our ridership.”

The group will research various ideas over the next few months. They will present them to council by the end of this year or in early 2018, where councillors will decide to approve or reject the plans. 

Metro chatted with Roux about the research projects, and what they could mean for current users and others thinking about taking transit in the future. 

Gondolas or cable cars

This is one of those projects Roux calls “out-of-the-box thinking.” 

He said the group will see if Edmonton could link both the south and north side of the river by using a gondola or cable car. 

“It’s not an easy ride going from Rogers Place to Whyte Ave — you have to make a lot of bus transfers,” he said, noting it could also attract tourists.

“There’s good value from a transit point of view.”

Partnering with taxis/ride-share companies

Roux said cities like Montreal partner with taxis so transit users can get to a transportation hub.

He said the partnership might actually save the city some money — Rebates for cabs or Uber drivers would cost less than funding large buses that only take a small number of passengers. 

“It’s not feasible to run big buses where only two people ride them,” he explained. “This way it will get more people on to the transit system because of the better service.”

Providing more bike parking at stations would also help, Roux added, as it provides that incentive for users. 

Autonomous vehicles

Roux said the group will look at how autonomous vehicles (or driverless cars) will affect Edmonton’s transit system in the coming years. 

“There might be a tipping point,” he said. “It might suddenly explode and, if the city is not ready for it, we will have to change a lot of things.”

He explained there could be less vehicles on the road due to the driverless wave, meaning the city might have to ensure infrastructure spending on roads doesn’t go overboard. 

 “You don’t want get too far ahead then revert,” he said. “We could get ahead on how autonomous vehicles will affect the system so we don’t have to do that.”

Heated bus shelters

Roux said the group is finalizing its recommendations of heating bus shelters in Edmonton later this year. 

He said he would like the city conduct a pilot project on four or five shelters that would be heated. 

“We have to see how well that works and possibly go city-wide,” he said, noting Fort McMurray has heated shelters. “We have more than 2,000 shelters and none are heated.”

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