Edmontonians flock to transit in 2008?

100 Years of ETSI never thought I’d write a headline like that, but apparently it’s true. According to an article at CBC last week, Edmonton Transit is reporting that ridership rose by 8% in the first six months of 2008 compared with the same period last year. That’s roughly equivalent to an extra 2.5 million fares. ETS called the increase “astounding”, but seemed confused about the cause:

“Buses are packed, the LRT is packed, ridership continues to increase at an astounding rate,” said Ken Koropeski, director of service development for Edmonton Transit.

The increase is almost three times the growth being experienced by other transit systems across the country, Koropeski said, a trend for the city over the past few years.

The CBC article cites three potential reasons: high gas prices, the booming economy and related influx of newcomers to our city, and the U-Pass. I suspect #2 is the biggest cause, but that’s just my gut reaction. I wonder what impact the growth will have on security calls, which have already increased 20% over the last three years.

I also wonder why ETS didn’t share any of this information back in April? You might recall that Statistics Canada released information at the time that said nearly 80% of Edmontonians get to work in vehicle. Granted the StatsCan information came from the 2006 census, but it would have been a good opportunity for ETS to dispel some myths about stagnant (or least slowly growing) ridership.

I hope the growth continues. ETS turns 100 this year, and will celebrate Centennial Week from September 12th to 20th. You can learn more at the ETS website.

4 thoughts on “Edmontonians flock to transit in 2008?

  1. I’d say Gas Prices have a lot to do with it.
    The U-Pass probably has had a big impact too. Things like “stong economy” are kinda vague, and if anything, I’d say would result in *less* riders, as more can afford cars – that’d be my immediate thinking anyway.

    Either way, it’s wicked more people are using it. I know that if it was still practical (or needed) for me to, I’d use the bus, especially if I still worked downtown. One of our client families recently moved here from England. The husband has a very good job with Atco Electric downtown, but chooses to take the bus from Sherwood Park everyday, just because it’s more convienent. He certainly doesn’t do it for financial reasons… Say something

  2. Strong economy is indeed vague, but most definitely does not equate to less riders. It means the city receives a lot of transient workers, people who come simply because there’s money to be made, particularly in labour-intensive jobs. Most of these people cannot afford vehicles – they rely on ETS.

  3. I catch the bus to downtown from Spruce Grove and starting in September ridership went up significantly. Almost all the buses are now standing room only leaving Spruce Grove. This is on a route where you use to be able to get a seat to yourself and a few people had to share a bench. Based on what I overheard, parking charges downtown have gone up significantly. Telus Parkade is now $300 per month for parking.

    The 8% number seems low compared to what I have seen on my commuter, which leads me to believe that this is an averaged value. Routes like mine are probably more in 20-40% range. Still good to see. It is a change from when I remember routes being canceled and merged.

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