The Pulse: April 6, 2023

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  • 7°C: Mainly sunny. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h gusting to 40 in the afternoon. High 7. Wind chill minus 12 in the morning. UV index 3 or moderate. (forecast)
  • Purple: The High Level Bridge will be lit purple for National Dental Hygienists Week, which runs April 4-10. (details)
  • 3-1: The Edmonton Oilers (47-23-9) defeated the Anaheim Ducks (23-45-10) for their sixth straight win on April 5. (details)

Carrie Hotton-MacDonald stands at a podium. Behind her is a bus decorated for Pride month, with bullet points reading "Public transit is making our city more inclusive; a critical lever to reduce poverty; reducing social isolation; creating economic outcomes; generating positive health outcomes; about climate action

Boost to off-peak transit service promised by September

By Colin Gallant

A promised increase to off-peak service in Edmonton's transit system is slated to roll out by this September across nine different routes.

As outlined in the 2023-2026 budget, Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) is adding 500 hours per week of off-peak service this year. The change will be in place by this fall, branch manager Carrie Hotton-MacDonald told Taproot.

"At the very latest, it'll be in the September service change that we implement," she said. "It's just kind of dependent on hiring the operators in order to deliver those service hours."

The routes and times receiving service boosts are as follows:

  • Route 500: weekday midday;
  • Route 110: midday;
  • Route 516: weekend morning/evening;
  • Route 56: early evenings on weekends;
  • Route 51: weekday midday, early Sunday, and late Saturday and Sunday;
  • Route 54: Saturday and Sunday mornings and late service extended to West Edmonton Mall;
  • Route 114: late evenings and weekend mornings;
  • Route 901: early morning, midday, and Sunday evenings;
  • Route 31: Terwillegar Drive, midday express service.

This is the first time in 10 years that ETS has boosted off-peak service hours. It follows both the system's bus network redesign and equity analysis report.

"I think it is going to make a huge difference," Hotton-MacDonald said. "It's small but mighty. It's not a dramatic number, but I think we're going to be able to show people the impact it (has), and I'm just really excited for that."

Part of the reason for the boost is a "smoothing" in demand for transit service across hours, Hotton-MacDonald said. While Edmonton has in the past primarily focused on the delivery of peak (a.k.a. rush hour) service, rider habits have changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the bus network redesign.

"We are seeing more interest in demand from people in the off-peak … as opposed to having dramatic differences between peak and off-peak," she said.

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Headlines: April 6, 2023

By Kevin Holowack and Mariam Ibrahim

  • The city launched its One Strong Voice campaign to "empower and educate" bystanders to safely intervene in gender-based violence and harassment in transit spaces. The campaign, which the city began promoting in transit areas and through social media and radio on April 5, focuses on six actions you can take based on whether you feel safe or unsafe intervening. Sarah Feldman with the Edmonton Transit Service said the campaign is about "equipping people with options" and not about asking or expecting people to intervene. Concerns about the campaign came from Norquest College criminologist Dan Jones, who worried it could promote vigilantism, and Coun. Tim Cartmell, who suggested in the "current environment" people should call the police. The city has released an executive summary of the research informing the campaign.
  • A Valley Line LRT train hit a man on April 2, sending him to hospital with life-threatening head injuries. The incident occurred just after 6am near 85 Street and 93 Avenue, north of the future Holyrood LRT station. The train was undergoing testing and had no passengers, and the man was asleep near the tracks, police said in a release. He remained in critical condition as of April 5. Anyone with information about the incident can contact Edmonton Police Service through its non-emergency line or anonymously through Crime Stoppers.
  • Bird and Lime have brought e-scooters and e-bikes back to Edmonton for the 2023 season, making this the fifth year micromobility services have been available in the city. Shewkar Ibrahim, the city's director of traffic operations, said the only major change to Edmonton's Shared Micromobility Program is an expansion of service areas. Between June and October 2022, Edmontonians took about 397,400 trips on the vehicles, of which more than 200,000 started or ended downtown. Only 9% of the trips were by e-bike, while 91% were by e-scooter. A Lime spokesperson said the company saw a 21% increase in rides in Edmonton in 2022 compared to 2021.
  • The city's pest management coordinator, Mike Jenkins, predicts fewer mosquitos this spring than recent years because there isn't much snow left to create standing water. He noted that rain in April and May could still increase the number of mosquitos. Jenkins said council's decision to cancel the aerial spraying programs in 2022 had little impact because there wasn't much standing water that year, but the results could be seen this year depending on precipitation. As part of its Mosquito Control Program, the city has also been looking into ways to increase the amount of bats and dragonflies in the Edmonton area.
  • Edmonton Journal columnist Keith Gerein suggested the Metro Line expansion northward into Blatchford is shaping up to be a "train to nowhere" and raised questions about the community's pace of development and affordability. The city's head of LRT expansion and renewal said in March that two stations in Blatchford, which are the first phase of the line's expansion, are ahead of schedule and expected to open in 2024. Although Blatchford has won awards and been praised for innovative design, the community only had 45 occupied homes and an average home price of $650,000 as of October 2022, which is the most recent data available. Back then, council was opposed to compromising on the community's environmental vision, but is expecting a report this summer with information that may help address affordability.
  • The City of Edmonton, the Edmonton Arts Council and the Edmonton Public Library are seeking applications from candidates interested in becoming the city's 10th Poet Laureate. The Poet Laureate acts as an ambassador for the literary arts and reflects the life of the city through poetry. The successful applicant will serve a two-year term beginning July 1, 2023. Applications are due May 3. The city's current Poet Laureate is writer, poet, and performer Titilope Sonuga.
  • Law enforcement officers seized one chicken from Ivan Dacko, who received media coverage in March for spending time in jail after refusing to pay a fine he incurred for keeping backyard hens without a license. The court gave Dacko 10 days to find a new home for his six chickens or else have them seized. CTV News reported that Dacko evaded questions about what he did with the other five chickens.
  • Lyft, a ride-hailing app and Uber competitor, announced it is coming to Edmonton as part of its expansion in Canada. The company is now accepting applications from Edmontonians to work as drivers, and said details about when you can book rides will be announced in the coming months.