Transit Service Review

The City of Spruce Grove is engaged in a multi-year process to develop a long-term plan for its transit service. Spruce Grove's commuter transit service has operated for over nine years now, initially as a pilot project and now as regular service. Ridership has grown steadily since this time with the system operating at close to capacity during peak times. A number of factors played a role in the City's decision to conduct an extensive review of its service. These include:

  • Rapid community growth.
  • Increased regional cooperation and the adoption of the Capital Region Integrated Transit Network Plan External by municipalities in the region.
  • Changing provincial regulations for transit operations.
  • Crowding on buses during peak times.
  • Interest in seeing the U-Pass program adopted.
  • Demand for expansion of both local and commuter service.

Review components

Steps in the transit planning process

While the City’s Transit Review started in 2011 with a focus on developing a comprehensive business plan for evolving the service, the pace and scope of the project were adapted to reflect a changing regional context. These changes were the result of discussions at the Capital Region Board about whether a regional transit commission should be implemented. The outcome of this decision has a major impact on the City’s future system planning, in particular whether Spruce Grove should operate and manage its own transit system (opposed to contracting service from ETS). The project was split into two phases so the City could move forward in the short-term.

  1. Phase 1 focuses on short-term system changes within the existing ETS contract approach (2013-2014).
  2. Phase 2 will be a comprehensive business plan based on the outcomes of the regional governance work. If required, Phase 2 will include a review of different operational models. It is slated to start in 2015.

Key components 

  • Collecting public input. 
  • Developing a long-term business case.
  • Working with other Capital Region municipalities.
  • Responding to legislative changes.
  • Exploring funding opportunities.
  • Incorporating the results of the Transportation Master Plan.

Recent Project Materials

Service Cost

Spruce Grove's transit service is supported by a small population. Improvements to this service need to be carefully planned and budgeted for to ensure the system remains financially viable. The system currently experiences a very high per-rider annual subsidy rate and its cost increases significantly every year to just maintain the current service. Administration is working hard to keep current and future costs manageable.

The City is committed to transit service however evolving this service will take time and significant resources. Community members are asked to be patient as this process occurs.

Did you know?

  • Fares cover only 39% of the service costs.
  • Fare increases have not kept up with the increase in ETS contract costs.
  • Each riders is subsidized approximately $3,800 per year.
  • The service costs $1.4 million not including City staff time.
  • The deficit in 2015 was $482,304
  • A major source of grant funding used to cover the operating costs has been reduced over the past three years and is not expected to continue beyond 2015. This will impact the City's ability to expand the system.
  • While 1/4 of the ridership comes from outside Spruce Grove, other communities do not help fund the service.

History of the system

Commuter transit service was initiated by the City of Spruce Grove through a contract agreement with the City of Edmonton and Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) in January 2006 first as a pilot project and then, following some refinements, as a regular service. The pilot phase started with two routes: one served downtown Edmonton and the University of Alberta while the other served West Edmonton Mall and Misericordia Hospital. Due to limited ridership this second service was cancelled in November 2007 and resources focused on the downtown/University of Alberta route (Route 560). The Spruce Grove & Stony Plain Transit Feasibility Study was completed in July 2007 to evaluate existing and future service, fleet and management options.