Transit officials in Edmonton are discussing ways in which public transit can be improved and how to go about taking the best ideas from these discussions. The aim is to advance our transit system to meet the needs of more of Edmonton’s population.
One key matter put forward is that Edmonton Transit will seek to build partnerships, for instance, with Uber, as well as any ride-share businesses as part of its goal of creating easier access to and within the suburbs.
Edmonton Transit will showcase it’s strategies to City Council in June of this year, as it states that other cities in North America that utilize Uber, find it actually less expensive than continuing to facilitate the use of empty buses on certain routes. The strategy would mean a “scale-back” on community buses, states Transit Strategist, Sarah Feldman. She asserts that we must look for creative methods such as the old “dial-a-ride” idea. Many are opposed to this manner of reducing buses and say it is a step backward. However, Uber already has several U.S. cities with such partnerships with public transit.
Uber Canada’s director of public policy, Adam Blinick states, “We are very eager to engage” with regard to discussions on the topic of partnering up strategies. There is proof that many Uber users are already connecting Uber with their public transport, “making trips ending or starting at the LRT stations”. This, in and of itself, leads to valuable free advertising for Uber, when someone uses both public transit connecting with Uber in this respect. It simultaneously leads to good promotion for public transit when people incorporate this strategy to get around the city.
City Council has stated that it highly recommends that in-depth cost comparisons be implemented during the study and discussion of transit strategy. Councillor, Michael Walters has been viewing the issue from a seniors’ mobility standpoint and proposes that “anything that works for seniors can work for the rest of the population”. Walters also states that the strategy “should be open to a variety of companies…It’s not about competition. It’s about everyone pulling together to help meet the need in the community”.
Part of building the strategy to be discussed in June at City Council, will include emphasizing more flexible and inexpensive choices for community buses. Creative ways of augmenting the system as the city’s needs grow, while implementing extensive cost comparisons will be of utmost importance.