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Mixed reaction as new bus network rolls out in Edmonton

Two days after ETS launched its bus network redesign, feedback on the changes is mixed.

Hundreds of bus stops and routes changed overnight from Saturday to Sunday.

“Things are going really well. We’re very pleased that operationally, things are very smooth as much as can be expected,” explained ETS director of planning and scheduling Sarah Feldman on Monday.

The changes are aimed at making transit more convenient in suburban neighbourhoods on the outskirts of the city, which were previously underserved, as well as increasing the frequency of buses along major transit routes.

READ MORE: Edmonton’s bus routes are changing. Here’s how to plan your trip

Riders in those areas are pleased with the changes — but there are others who are not as happy.

“We’re hearing a mix of feedback, and like anything, that is expected when you change a system this complex,” Mayor Don Iveson said.

On Twitter, user @Morgan_Smiley7 wrote: “Shoutout to the second day of the new ETS system, for making me late to work, for the second day in a row.”

Others took to social media to express their frustration at having to walk further, more than the seven-minute walking time ETS says it planned around.

Twitter user @DatMeowMeow wrote: “The walking extra 15-20 mins to bus stops is ridiculous and is going to absolutely be a whole other level of awfulness in the winter. LET ALONE for seniors and people with disabilities.”

Feldman said walking times of that duration might be cutting out a bus ride or there may be confusion around the new on-demand system.

“If people are planning a trip from a neighbourhood that no longer has service and now has on-demand, it will show them a really big walk because there’s no service in that neighbourhood. Trip planners like Google Maps, they don’t show on-demand service,” she said.

READ MORE: Free on-demand shuttles to accompany Edmonton’s bus network redesign

While 1,200 people had registered to be able to book rides on-demand, only 50 actually rode the free shuttle on Sunday, ETS said. They expect that number to increase on weekdays.

To try and help riders navigate the new system, staff members are now offering trip planning guidance in person.

“We have teams out at our busiest LRT stations and transit centres answering questions, helping to do trip planning. We’ve been handing out lots of brochures and maps,” Feldman said.

Those with concerns or who may need further assistance with trip planning are asked to call 311.

“We’re very interested in feedback from the public and don’t expect this to be perfect on Day 1 or 2 either,” Iveson said.

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