High-frequency bus routes will take place of delayed southeast LRT line

The City of Edmonton will run two high-frequency bus routes until the delayed Valley Line Southeast LRT starts running well into 2021.

The routes, 510X and 520X, will fill in for the still-under-construction 13-kilometre LRT line between downtown and Mill Woods.

The temporary routes will be integrated into the city’s new bus network, set to launch at the end of August.

“It will stop at existing transit centres [Millgate and Mill Woods Town Centre] until the new transit centres [Davies and a new transit centre at Mill Woods Town Centre] are open,” said Sarah Feldman, director of planning and scheduling for Edmonton Transit Service, in an email.

Here’s what the changes are expected to look like for transit commuters.

Will the express buses take longer?

The city says commuters can expect a 35- to 40-minute ride between Mill Woods and downtown on the temporary bus routes.

That’s about five to 10 minutes longer than it should take on the Valley Line Southeast.

Coun. Mike Nickel said southeast Edmonton residents are cynical when it comes to their downtown commute.

“They’re burned out,” he said. “To say they’re going to set up two express routes that are going to take an extra five to 10 minutes, I’m at the point that I’ll believe it when I see it.”

I’m at the point that I’ll believe it when I see it.– Coun. Mike Nickel

The city said in a statement that the express bus travel times are based on “standard operating conditions.”

“Just like personal vehicles, travel times may vary due to traffic, construction, weather and road conditions,” the city’s statement reads.

The express routes will run every four to five minutes during rush hour and every 10 to 15 minutes during off-peak hours. 

The Valley Line Southeast LRT will adopt a similar operating schedule once it’s running.

Coun. Ben Henderson said although the travel times will be longer on the bus routes, it’s important to remember they will be temporary.

“I don’t think there would be any other way than to do anything else more than an express route that allowed for bus rider transit,” he said. 

The two routes will stop running once the LRT opens, the city said.

Charles Kelly, chair of the Edmonton Transit Service Advisory Board, which is appointed by city council, supports the temporary bus routes.

“It’s unfortunate that the Valley Line Southeast is delayed,” Kelly said. “I think ETS has made a fairly good effort to replace it.”

When will the two routes start running?

The city’s statement didn’t specify when the routes would start, but the city’s new bus network is supposed to launch Aug. 30.

The new bus routes across the city will have more frequent service and will see fewer neighbourhood routes.

The Valley Line Southeast LRT has been integrated into the city’s bus network plan.

The covered Valley Line LRT worksite east of 100th Street on 102nd Avenue. (Stephanie Dubois/CBC)

Bus route details and schedules are expected this summer, according to the city’s website.

When is the southeast LRT supposed to start?

The opening of the 13-kilometre line has been delayed until 2021 when it will open “as soon as possible,” according to the city.

It was previously scheduled to open in December 2020.

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