Students exasperated

by | Jan 29, 2015 | Web Archive

Edmonton’s Metro LRT line expansion to NAIT has been delayed, delayed, delayed again, with the new official date set at May 4. As both City Council and administration offer platitudes to NAIT students, frustration continues to boil under the surface on campus.

The repeated delays have numbed students to the disappointing transit service currently offered to NAIT’s main campus. With the relative failure of ETS’s “Ookspress” express bus service from Churchill Square to NAIT, some students are questioning the city’s effectiveness in completing projects.

‘Get on it’

BBA student Tanys Allen voiced her frustration on level of transit service to NAIT, saying, “The bus is too slow and the LRT would save me time getting to school and back. Get on it!”

NAIT students had begun to feel hope in the fall term when ETS promised the “Ookspress” bus service as a temporary LRT replacement service from Churchill to the main campus. Ridership numbers are not currently available for the experimental service, however, many students were not aware of the service’s existence. Now, it would seem ETS is trying to keep the service hush-hush as the schedule is not available on the transit website nor is there an official route number.

Questions were raised when a Nugget staff member noticed that the City of Edmonton’s information line, 311, was unable to answer questions about the schedule.

Quinn Nicholson, a communications officer for the Edmonton Transit Service explains, “311 is free to comment about it (in fact, we expect them to!), and was informed that the schedule was the same … over a month ago. I’m not sure why communication broke down there. I already have one of our interactive marketing team checking with 311 to make sure they’re giving their agents the correct information.”

NAITSA’s President Hasib Baig says that students are reasonably upset about the situation.

“At this point, all we are asking for is to get the LRT going as soon as possible,” he said.

Emily, an Open Studies student, put a finer point on the situation, letting the Nugget know that the lack of service affects her financially, as she has to pay for gas for her transportation to and from NAIT, which would be reduced if the LRT were operational.

For students with children, the lack of service can greatly affect the commute. One student in Respiratory Therapy explained that rather than taking the LRT, she’s forced to take her child on multiple buses to make it to class.

Skepticism about the progress of the LRT is not limited to NAIT students from Edmonton, either.

Daniel Toral, an International Student from Mexico studying in the B.Tech. program, commented, “It would be useful to have the LRT now. I’ve only been here for about a month and a half but even in Mexico, having a delay of over a year is a bit of a stretch.”

Sherwood Park challenge

As far as its aspiration to be a “world class city,” Edmonton is apparently missing the mark. And you don’t have to look to international students to hear complaints from non-Edmontonians. Students from nearby Sherwood Park face the challenge of reaching class using Strathcona County Transit, which cut its service to NAIT’s main campus last year in anticipation of the LRT’s completion.

In the end however, the general sentiment is summarized by BBA student Marco Bombino when he asked, “How many times can it be delayed?”

With files from Connor O’Donovan and Kyle Matz

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