Edmonton

Service changes double ridership on buses to Edmonton International Airport

Service changes brought in last year have helped double ridership on transit routes serving the Edmonton International Airport, partners in the Airport Accord said Friday.

'A very tangible example of shared investment for shared benefit,' Don Iveson says

Route 747 to the Edmonton International Airport is now seeing 25,000 riders each month. (CBC)

Service changes brought in last year have helped double ridership on transit routes that serve the Edmonton International Airport, partners in the Airport Accord said Friday.

The accord, an agreement to fulfil the airport's economic development potential, is a partnership between EIA, the City of Leduc, Leduc County and the City of Edmonton.

In a news release, the partners said transit ridership has gone from 12,000 per month a year ago to more than 25,000. Several changes to bus service were announced in late April 2018.

The uptick in users of the 747 bus can be attributed to the drop in the fare from $10 to $5, the increase in bus frequency during peak times, and better connections with Leduc Transit services, said Ian Gallagher, regional program manager with the city.

The opening of the Premium Outlet Collection mall and Costco on the airport lands also contributed to increased ridership, he said Friday.

Through ridership surveys, the city has found the majority of people using the 747 service are actually getting on flights. The buses have luggage racks and are designed for travellers, he said.

"It's roughly a 70-30 split right now, for air travel versus employment," Gallagher said.

But the number of workers using the service is expected to grow as more of the land around the International airport is developed, he said.

Mayor Don Iveson is also confident that ridership on the 747 bus will increase.

"Frequency will only grow as demand grows, demand will grow as traffic to the airport grows and as employment continues to grow at the airport," Iveson said.

The mayor pointed to the service as a strong example of regional co-operation.

"It's a very tangible example of shared investment for shared benefit," he said.

A new report released Thursday details steps for the creation of a regional transit commission. Edmonton city council will debate the report on June 18.

All 13 municipalities in the region will have representatives at that discussion, Iveson said.

While not all 13 are likely to join up right away, Iveson is optimistic there will be some consolidation of transit services once the commission is up and running.

"Labour mobility and congestion relief is really good for the economy of the whole region, so that's what's in it for each municipality," he said.