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
Requests For New or Additional Bus Service
ETS will be implementing a new bus network starting August 30, 2020. The bus network was designed using the same budget as today with a focus on improving frequency in areas with existing service. ETS is also exploring an on-demand alternative transit service for newer communities that do not have regular bus service. It would connect residents with the nearest transit centre or major transfer point, when requested.
ETS will be presenting a report to City Council's Urban Planning Committee in February 2020 for further direction on alternative transit options. Implementation of this type of service is dependent on approval and funding from City Council.
ETS will be implementing a new bus network starting mid-2021. It was designed using the same budget as today with a focus on improving frequency in areas with existing service. The redesign will see some communities getting improved frequency and/or expanded service into evenings and weekends. In the interim, there is no available funding to add service to the existing network.
School boards are responsible for providing student transportation, however, students are welcome to use ETS. School Specials are intended to alleviate overloads on regular service caused by a large number of students travelling between a neighbourhood and a school. All customers are welcome to use both School Special and regular routes. ETS does not provide School Specials to every school and students may need to make transfers to get to their designated school. At this time, ETS does not have available funding to increase the number of school specials.
The Edmonton Public School Board has guidelines for acceptable trip duration and number of transfers for students; however, these are the guidelines of the School Board for planning designated school boundaries, and not for ETS. It is used by the Board as one consideration when looking at providing yellow bus versus ETS service. If service from your residence does not meet the Board’s policy, you may contact the School Board to see if other options can be arranged.
Regular sized ETS buses are designed to serve an average of 50 customers during peak hours. A regular bus with 50 passengers will have about 15 standing passengers.
ETS has a limited number of articulated buses, which are the largest in our fleet. These buses are fully allocated to Routes 15 and 100 to accommodate the high number of customers on these express routes.
Bus Route Scheduling
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 which may cause delays.
If you are continuously experiencing difficulties with a particular bus route, please use the ETS Commendations or Concerns online form and report the specific bus route number, time and location. The issue will be forwarded to the appropriate ETS department to look into.
When scheduling routes, ETS works to make connections that serve the largest number of customers. ETS is not able to shift route schedules in order to accommodate individual requests. While we recognize five minutes may not seem like much, it has a domino effect for that bus throughout the day and may cause missed connections for other customers.
ETS regularly monitors the number of customers riding all routes. During the spring and summer, the number of customers is lower for many reasons including schools being out of session. As such, service is temporarily reduced so we have available funding to match higher demand during other times of the year. These seasonal reductions are reinstated in September.
Transit Facilities, Shelters, Stops, Fleet and Maintenance
ETS has limited resources to install new bus shelters. Bus shelters are prioritized based on a number of factors, including whether the site is compatible for a shelter and the number of people using the stop. ETS maintains a list of all bus stops throughout the City and ranks each location based on its priority for a bus shelter. As shelters become available, they are assigned to the highest priority stops first.
Bus stop placement is based on site conditions, cost, stop spacing and walking distance guidelines. Adding a bus stop may improve accessibility for customers, but reduces the travel speed of buses and increases maintenance cost.
ETS endeavours to improve accessibility by providing a hard surface and connector walk at all bus stops. Existing stops that lack pedestrian infrastructure will be improved as funding becomes available.
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, the announcements will also begin to play, as the bus' location will match up with the proper announcement.
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.
Because buses can 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.
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.
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.
There are a variety of advantages and drawbacks when locating bus stops either before or after an intersection. Nearside stops (before an intersection) can be beneficial where riders transfer between two bus routes on different roads. In addition, vehicles behind the bus stopped on the farside of an intersection (after the intersection) may need to change lanes to avoid delays.
ETS and many other transit agencies generally prefer locating bus stops on the farside of intersections for several reasons, including:
- Farside stops ensure that pedestrians cross behind the bus, which prevents the bus from blocking visibility of pedestrians crossing the road
- Farside stops ensure that buses do not block visibility of intersections traffic controls, such as stop signs and signal heads
- Farside stops allow buses to clear the intersection before stopping, which minimized delays to right turning vehicles traveling behind the bus
Bus shelters locations are evaluated based on Section 3.6 of the City’s Complete Streets Design and Construction Standards. Shelters that do not meet our standards will be removed or relocated.
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 participates in a "Limited Idling Program" between May 1 - September 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.
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.
Operators will straddle both lanes on the High Level 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.
Operators are allowed to make purchase stops and take washroom breaks, provided their absence from the bus does not disrupt the schedule.