Planning is essential now. In February, Edmonton Transit announced its conventional bus ridership had returned to pre-pandemic levels, at 1.2 million boardings per week.
“That was really exciting. We’re one of the first large urban centres to get there,” says Hotton-MacDonald.
LRT ridership remains at just 60 to 70 percent of normal, however. Hotton-MacDonald says this is due to changing commuter patterns, but also safety and security concerns.
Along with people sheltering in LRT stations, “we’ve got our drug poisoning crisis happening, and so it’s just a different experience for people.”
Edmonton Transit is responding by adding more transit peace officers, a community outreach team and partnering with the social services sector.
“It’s much bigger than transit. It’s actually much bigger than Edmonton,” says Hotton-MacDonald. “It’s happening across North America, where we see the intersection of these issues coming into transit. So whether it’s Toronto or Montreal, or San Francisco or New York City, all of us are struggling with these issues and trying to navigate a very complicated set of circumstances.”
Edmonton Transit is also bringing in a “bystander campaign” in response to community feedback, with information on what to do if they’re “witnessing something,” says Hotton-MacDonald.
“It’ll really help people feel a bit more comfortable about understanding what their options are.”
Another Transit Camp topic is whether the major bus network redesign implemented in April 2021 has been a success.