City to study 24-hour bus service

Edmonton city councillors want to know if 24-hour bus service is possible on a limited number of routes in the city.
City staff will investigate whether it is possible to run some city bus routes around the clock. (CBC)

Edmonton city councillors want to know whether it is possible to run some bus routes 24 hours a day.

The request from councillors Ben Henderson and Don Iveson, introduced at Tuesday's council meeting, comes after the city postponed plans to run a late night bus along Whyte Avenue next month.

The new proposal wouldn't just help ease late night crowds on Whyte Avenue; it could also help shift workers get home, Henderson said.

"We don't need to necessarily run the whole service. We could do specific routes, specific night routes. It's a fairly common activity in other cities" Henderson said.

"So you can do a rudimentary service but we can at least get people around the city in those hours between 2 and 5 when we're currently offering no service at all."

City staff have been asked to estimate the cost of extending service, determine an ideal frequency for buses and recommend the routes that would best help workers from hospitals, hotels and bars get home.

The report should be in front of council in six weeks. 

The transportation department estimated earlier that it would cost $13 million to have 24-hour service on one-third of routes in the city.

The Whyte Avenue weekend bus was supposed to run as a pilot project starting in September. But it was postponed after communities near the route termination point at Southgate Transit Centre complained about the potential of increased noise and damage from riders.

Under the project, a bus would make 10 trips along Whyte Avenue between 1:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. to clear people out of the area as the bars close down. The route would travel to the University of Alberta before terminating at the Southgate Transit Centre.

The city has put the plan on hold while residents are included in the consultation process.