This may be welcome news for transit riders. First the metro line LRT was delayed in its open, and we also have LRT networks across our city that are still years away from being completed.
On Wednesday Oct. 7, the city discussed the proposal to develop “bus rapid transit” or “BRT” in our city as a replacement to LRT service that is still years away from completion. That’s welcome news for students who travel to NAIT every day. The proposal is being considered by the city as part of a transit review and is expected to be completed by 2017.
Bus rapid transit uses special bus lanes designated for buses. This special lane will allow for faster travel time across the city compared to regular express routes. Bus rapid transit is not an express service but a quicker and more convenient way to get across the city. Bus rapid transit will see fares collected prior to boarding in order to save wait times at bus stops. The cost to operate this system is also cheaper than the regular LRT.
The LRT network across our city is still far from complete. The Valley Line is planned to run from Mill Woods up into Bonnie Doon, north to downtown, west to West Edmonton Mall and extend as far as Lewis Farms on the western edge. This line is still years away and will not be completed until the end of 2020.
There are many areas in our city that are far from the downtown core and therefore lack reliable transit. There are some NAIT students who come from outside Edmonton to get to NAIT every morning. A system of bus rapid transit will be a relief. It can take up to an hour and a half some mornings to get to school now.
There is a large population of NAIT students in Mill Woods. Their fastest option right now to get to school each morning is Bus Route 15, which runs from Mill Woods all the way to Eaux Claires Transit Centre. This route passes through downtown and NAIT. Travel times from Mill Woods each morning for students by bus is 50 minutes. With bus rapid transit, travel time could be much less.
Mayor Don Iveson is confident the provincial government will partner with the city to develop BRT. “I think we should be organizing our service around frequency and around dedicated linear and fast routes, not at the expense of all other collector service,” said Iveson. We also have NAIT students coming from the far west end. Without a current LRT network running outside the Anthony Henday, bus rapid transit will be a good future alternative.