City playing 'catch-up' with outdated transit signs, accessibility, councillors say

The city must improve how passengers navigate transit in Edmonton, after a report described signs as "nearly unusable" and access to LRT stations "unwelcoming," councillors say.

'Edmonton invested very little in its downtown for about 40 years. So we're in real catch up mode now'

Churchill Station was the main target of a report outlining the issues with the ways passengers are expected to navigate Edmonton's transit system. From outdated signs to limited access, the problems reflect the station's aging infrastructure, the ETS branch manager says. (CBC)

The city must improve how passengers navigate transit in Edmonton, after a report described signs as "nearly unusable"  and access to LRT stations "unwelcoming," councillors say.

The report, presented to councillors Tuesday by the Edmonton Transit Service advisory board, found 21 issues impeding transit users from finding their way around the system.

"We have a lot of work to do," said Coun. Scott McKeen. "Edmonton invested very little in its downtown for about 40 years. So we're in real catch up mode now and probably wayfinding has been the last item we're considering."

Better signs and accessibility

The report found the transit system was wanting in signs and up-to-date transit information.

The centralized maps at some LRT stations were "very nearly unusable," lacking route directions and schedules. The report called the lack of landmarks and ETS signs outside Churchill Station "remarkable."

"I think the biggest surprise is just maybe how long it went on without any kind of updating," Coun. Andrew Knack said.

We're really in catch-up mode now and probably wayfinding is the last item we're considering.- Coun. Scott McKeen

People often don't realize the LRT offers direct access to important sites in the downtown, from the Citadel Theatre to the Royal Alberta Museum, said Charles Kelly, chair of the advisory board.

"We need to get better signage and more information so people can pick up on these things," he said.

Churchill Station is the main target of the report with its infrastructure reflecting its age. 

Passengers with mobility limitations must locate the "bleak and unwelcoming" accessible entrance through the Winspear Centre without clear signs.

The accessibility concerns extend to other parts of the system as well, said Eddie Robar, ETS branch manager.

"The focus on ensuring that accessibility for all folks has changed over those 40 years," he said. "And I think that keeping up with that change and making sure that we're attentive to what that looks like is part of where we need to go as a city."

Issue back at council in May

Councillors on the urban planning committee asked administration to consider ways the city can improve transit signs and accessiblity in the short and long term and report back on May 21.

Updating signs around transit stations to reflect current schedules and routes can get started right away, Robar said.

Retrofitting stations to offer more direct and accessible entrances will take longer, he said.

Universal and consistent wayfinding measures will be included in future stations as the city builds and extends LRT lines.

Knack also suggested having a designated ETS person audit wayfinding practices annually, ensuring transit information is up-to-date.

"The move to more digital, more interactive signage, I think, would really help ensure that our staff can more easily update that information while things change," he said.


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