St. Albert transit riders will soon have to catch the LRT to get to the University of Alberta due to construction on the Groat Road Bridge.
St. Albert Transit planning and customer service manager Will Steblyk announced this week that this city’s bus routes to the University of Alberta will change this Dec. 9 to avoid the Groat Road Bridge.
The City of Edmonton is doing a major renovation of the bridge and recently restricted traffic on it to a single lane in both directions.
Those lanes are very narrow, and Edmonton and St. Albert buses have already had a few minor collisions while travelling along them, Steblyk said. Snow and ice could make the situation worse. As such, the Edmonton, Strathcona County and St. Albert transit services have decided to keep their buses off the bridge until renovations are complete in fall 2020.
“The risk of a major collision is too high,” Steblyk said.
This change will affect the roughly 1,400 St. Albert residents who take Route 203 or 204 to the University of Alberta each day, Steblyk said. Instead of crossing the North Saskatchewan, these buses will now take riders to downtown Edmonton so they could ride the LRT to the university.
The Route 204 bus will now stop at the Corona LRT station on Jasper Avenue and 107 Street, and will have more runs per day. From there, passengers will hop on the LRT for about four minutes to get to the U of A.
Route 203 will stop at the Kingsway station near 111 Avenue and will have fewer runs. Kingsway is about 18 minutes away from the U of A by LRT.
Assuming it takes five minutes to get from the bus to the LRT, Steblyk said these changes will add nine to 23 minutes to the typical U of A trip, depending on which route you take. Depending on traffic and where you board, it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to reach the U of A using the current bus routes.
Steblyk said these changes should be cost-neutral. Riders can use their U-pass, bus pass, bus tickets, transfers, or cash to board the LRT.
Steblyk acknowledged that these changes could discourage people from taking transit, but said there was no real alternative to the LRT, as it would take much longer to reach the U of A by bus using a different bridge.
St. Albert Bachelor of Commerce student Katie Fitzgerald takes the bus to the U of A on most days, and said the Groat Road Bridge construction has sometimes made getting home an hour-long trek.
“It seems like a tight squeeze,” she said of the road on the bridge, and she could see how ice and snow could be an issue on it.
Fitzgerald said she would have to check out the new bus schedule to see how these changes would affect her morning routine. She might have to start driving, but suspected that she would stick to the bus to avoid the cost.
“It’ll probably add a little more work for us (riders) to get to school.”
Revised bus schedules will soon be posted at St. Albert’s bus stations and at ridestat.ca, Steblyk said.