I 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.