School Special Changes
There are significant changes to School Specials starting September 1. The majority of School Special bus routes have been merged into regular ETS routes that serve the same areas.
School Special Changes
Our service includes conventional bus, light rail transit (LRT), disabled adult transit (DATS), as well as associated operations activities such as planning bus routes and schedules, operation of buses and LRT equipment, marketing and charter services.
Frequently Asked Questions
Peak service times are from 6am to 9am and 3pm to 6pm.
To make your transit better, ETS adjusts bus routes five times a year typically around September, December, February, April and June. These changes are made to accommodate shifts in ridership demand, customer feedback and road construction activity.
ETS participates in a "Limited Idling Program" between May 1 - Sept 30. Drivers turn off the bus engine during daylight hours when the layover period is three minutes or more, the outside air temperature is 10 degrees Celsius or more, and the bus filter is not in a regeneration cycle. Once the temperature lowers, for short layovers, and while the particulate filter is active, ETS continues to run the engines to ensure passenger comfort and promptness.
Service provided by ETS is based on the ridership demand and available funding. Those routes exceeding high ridership standards as per City Transit Service Standards are considered for additional service subject to funding availability. High ridership standards include trips with more than 50 boarding per hour (60 boarding per hour during peak periods), consecutive trips carrying more than 50 passengers, or individual trips carrying more than 55 passengers.
No additional funding was allocated for service to new neighbourhoods in the 2016 - 2018 Operating Budget. As such, it is unlikely that any new service will be implemented until 2019 or later.
In order for bus service to be warranted to a new area, the following conditions must be met:
- A minimum of 500 residents in the new area
- A sufficient collector roadway network to allow for the bus to travel through the neighbourhood
- Sufficient funding availability in the ETS Operating Budget
A School Special is considered when the regular bus service becomes overloaded by a large number of students traveling to nearby schools. ETS does not have the resources to provide a school special to every school. Many students make transfers, even when traveling to their designated school.
The level of service provided by Edmonton Transit takes into consideration the number of passengers traveling on a bus route or in a corridor. Travel demand is generally lower during the summer and on holidays. As result, the same level of service is not required during all days of the year. Reducing levels of service when fewer people are traveling allows for more service to be available during the busiest travel time periods. Several seasonal service reductions occur late April and late June when regular classes at post-secondary institutions and schools are no longer in session. These service reductions are restored in September when regular classes are back in session.
No additional funding was allocated for service to new neighbourhoods in the 2016 - 2018 Operating Budget. As such, it is unlikely that any new offpeak service will be implemented until 2019 or later.
In order for offpeak bus service to be warranted to a new or growing area, the following conditions must be met:
- A minimum of 1500 residents in the new area
- Existing peak service must meet minimum ridership standards (30 passenger boardings per hour)
- Sufficient funding availability in the ETS Operating Budget
Buses are designed to serve a large number of passengers, especially during peak hours. As a result, Edmonton Transit is not able to guarantee every passenger a seat for the entire duration of their trip. Edmonton Transit designs service for an average of 50 passengers per bus over the peak hour. A regular bus with 50 passengers will have about 15 standing passengers. Edmonton Transit has a limited number of articulated buses. These buses are already allocated to serve Routes 15 and 100 during high travel demand periods.
A future stop is a placeholder for future transit service. It does not guarantee service, but is an indication that future service is intended to operate along that road.
Most often, "Not in Service" buses are travelling to a new location to begin service as a new route. ETS has firm start-times for routes in order to meet customer needs. "Not in Service" buses are unable to pick up passengers at every bus stop, because these buses travel across the city with different routes day to day.
Ahead of the stop, a vehicle can be parked pretty much flush with the stop, as long as the vehicle doesn't extend beyond the beginning of the bus stop.
Behind the stop varies depending on how the stop is placed and how a bus approaches it. The bus must be able to pull into the stop with both front and rear doors close enough to the curb to allow for safe exit from the bus. This area behind the bus stop is known as a Transit Zone. Transit zone lengths extend from the right angle curb line tangent of intersecting roadway.
They are as follows:
- 22 m when a bus enters a bus stop straight on.
- 30 m when a bus enters a bus stop after a right turn.
- 35 m when a bus enters a bus stop after a left turn.
- 45 m when a bus enters a bus stop in the middle of the block. This allows the bus to safely clear vehicles parked behind the transit zone portion of the bus stop and to be able to stop with front and back bus doors flush against the curb.
When the bus stop is placed 35 meters after an intersection, the entire length of roadway between the intersection and the bus stop sign is the bus stop/transit zone.
Bus stops can also be extended by double arrow bus stop signage. This is typically seen in areas such as downtown, where many buses must access the same stop. This extension is normally ended with a "Bus Stop Limit sign, which identifies the end of the stop.
If you would like to know about a specific stop, contact ETS with the bus stop number you would like to know more about.
The reason buses “bunch up" has to do with traffic and the nature of buses stopping to board and disembark passengers. If the first bus is stopping at every stop to board passengers, the next bus, scheduled 5 minutes later, will likely be stopping less for passengers and will catch up to the first bus. This creates the situation where several buses will arrive at one time, then there is a gap before the next bus comes. "Bunching" of buses is the result of providing frequent service down a busy transit corridor in a major city.
Operators will straddle both lanes on the Highlevel bridge and the hill on the south side of the bridge for clearance reasons due to the width of the traffic lanes on the bridge. If the bus returns into the lane nearest the curb before reaching the last bend in the road at the top of the hill, the front left corner of the bumper will enter into the left side or center lane of the roadway. This will put the bumper in far enough to make contact with a vehicle that in this lane, if it were beside the bus. To prevent this, operators are trained to maintain both lanes until passing the last bend in the roadway at the top of the hill.
Edmonton Transit operates on a time-transfer network where bus schedules are designed for routes to meet at major transfer locations (like transit centres) which allow for passengers to make their connection to other buses to complete their trip. Several routes may share a common corridor on a portion of the route, but often split to serve different neighbourhoods. Buses are scheduled to meet at either 15, 30 or 60 minute intervals depending on the ridership level of the particular route. This system often results in buses travelling down major corridors in close proximity to each other as they are heading to a particular transfer point at the same time.
Route times are determined based on connections at the transit centre to serve the maximum number of customers and the time it takes a bus to travel the route. If a route is shifted, even by five minutes, the result will be missed connections throughout the day.
I-lights (also known as bus advance lights) are often used where buses need to make a left turn from a collector road onto a busy arterial road where there would normally be a long delay waiting for a green light or where there is no traffic signal present at all.
I-lights are also used for queue jumps. Intersections can be set up with a special transit phase which allows buses to jump ahead of traffic from an auxiliary lane a few seconds before other traffic receives a green light. Queue jumps are used at locations where bus stops are located outside of travel lanes in right turn bays or other places where buses would otherwise have trouble merging into traffic after making a stop at a bus stop.
Reasons that more I-lights are not used in Edmonton include:
- The signals are presently very expensive, often costing more than a hundred thousand dollars
- The signals disrupt or reduce traffic flow for other vehicles and can cause new congestion
- Decisions on where to strategically place priority signals is done in concert with Transportation Operations Branch to ensure these enhancements are warranted on a case by case basis and are harmonized with the traffic signal network
ETS works hard to ensure buses and the LRT run according to schedule. Please keep in mind, similar to other forms of transportation, buses and LRT are affected by traffic issues, adverse weather conditions and/or construction. There may be delays.
If you are continuously experiencing difficulties with a particular bus, please use the and report the specific bus route number, time and location. The issue will be forwarded to the appropriate ETS department to look into.
Operators are allowed to make purchase stops and take washroom breaks, provided their absence from the bus does not disrupt the schedule.
Since buses could be on the road up to 8 hours at a time, the exterior and interior are cleaned daily every time the vehicle returns to the bus garage. This also ensures ETS collects any lost items that are left on Edmonton Transit property and turned in to the Lost and Found office the next working day.
ETS programs each route into the software system and creates a "line trace" (much like you would see on Google maps). When the bus travels along a route, it follows a 'line trace', which is the path the route takes along its regular stops. Using the line trace, ETS is able to program the bus to properly announce stops at the appropriate locations. However, when the bus goes on a detour or is forced to take a different routing it can no longer follow that particular line trace. As such, announcements are not played during this section of travel.
Once the bus comes back on route after a detour has ended and the bus return to regular routing and back on its line trace, the announcements will also begin to play, as the bus is once again able to match up the location it is currently at with the announcement that should play at that particular location.
The LRT has two car types. The heating systems on both car types are automatic and not operator adjustable. The older cars have no air conditioning function and can only heat the car or ventilate the interior if it is too warm. The target for these cars is approximately 18 degrees Celsius. The newer cars have fully functioning HVAC systems that can range from full air conditioning to full heat. They are computer controlled and vary depending on inside and outside air temperatures.
The heating system is checked on each inspection and any issues are repaired before the car is returned to service. The interior temperature is also dependent on amount of people entering/exiting the vehicle, outside air temperature, windows opened or closed by customers, how many doors opened on the car at the last station. It has been found that the center of the older cars and the main seating area on the newer cars are the warmest areas to travel.
Transit Centers/LRT Stations, Bus Shelters and Benches, Escalators & Elevators
It is not possible to install a shelter at every stop. All stops are prioritized for shelter installation based on site conditions and usage. As shelters become available, they are assigned to the highest priority stops first.
The escalators are very heavily used along the transit system. Some LRT stations have approximately 30,000 passengers moving through the station on a typical weekday. During the winter months, snow and ice are tracked through the station and onto the escalators which can lead to additional mechanical maintenance and failure.
ETS works closely with our contractor to repair the escalators and get them back up and running as soon as possible. Similar to other mechanical equipment, escalators and elevators naturally depreciate over time and require regular maintenance and repairs.
For more information, visit Elevator and Escalator Outages/Maintenance for real-time outages and maintenance schedule.
The heaters inside transit centres are radiant heaters: this means they are designed to warm any objects in the path of the heat being radiated. All heaters are automatically activated by temperature sensors. The heaters do not come on until the temperature inside the transit centre drops below -5 degrees.
Some station heaters are switched on in groups. As the temperature drops, more and more heaters come on. Stations may also have motion sensors to activate the heaters when people are present. In these circumstances, the heater will start when a person walks into the station.
ETS works hard to balance public comfort with environmental stewardship. Adding additional heaters depends on funding and resources in the ETS Operating Budget. ETS recommends all patrons dress according to the weather.