In case anyone missed it, Kerry Diotte had an interesting column on the idea of 24-hour transit in Edmonton.
Coun. Karen Leibovici, who asked administrators to prepare one of the two reports, is cautiously supportive of extended service.I think there are some pretty valid points in exploring the idea of 24-hour routes for Edmonton Transit (or potentially an hourly or half-hourly LRT run after 1am). Though I believe there tends to be too much focus on the Whyte Avenue bar scene when talking about 24-hour transit service, I do think that it could be an interesting place to conduct a pilot project.
"We're becoming more and more of a 24-7 city," said Leibovici. "We need to start looking at it," she said. "But the biggest problem is cost. Perhaps we don't have to run all night or even until 3:30 a.m.
"Maybe we can do a pilot project on Whyte Avenue or extend service for one extra hour."
Yes, there are many options.
Maybe we could afford it if we cut little-used routes and keyed on busier ones - or stopped using tax money to fund new routes to distant suburbs.
Do we need smaller buses on some routes? Or could we have fewer stops so buses get to destinations faster, thus encouraging more people to use the system?
Those options too, would help pay for extended hours.
I've even heard of an idea that would have buses running down Whyte Avenue after closing time delivering bar patrons to destinations east and west of Whyte Avenue to designated taxi pick up areas (perhaps the Bonnie Doon Mall parking lot to the east and the Jubilee Auditorium or Lister Hall Parking lots to the west). Though there would be a number of issues to work out (bus driver safety and "bus cleanliness" being two), it would successfully cut down the conjestion on Whyte Avenue before and after closing time.
As Edmonton grows, these types of public transit questions are only going to become more critical to making Edmonton a smarter and more efficient city.