Public Input

Public input on what residents want from their transit service is important. Information collected through three different processes was used to create the preliminary concepts. Open houses were held May 21 and May 22, 2014 to collect input on these concepts.   

Open House Input 

Two open houses were held May 21 and May 22. Over fifty people either attended or provided input by e-mail. The majority of attendees were riders or parents of rider with approx. 1/3 from outside Spruce Grove. Comments covered a range of topics, key themes are below.

September 2014 Changes - Route and Fares 

  • Riders not impacted by cutting direct service to UofA were generally supportive of this change. Comments included: it has low ridership, the LRT provides connections, and it is more efficient operationally.
  • Riders impacted by the UofA cut were very concerned. Concerns included: increase in fare costs, the transfer is inconvenient and has the potential to increase travel time, the LRT is unreliable/might miss bus connection, and the NAIT LRT is not open yet. 
  • General support for the midday service. 
  • Appreciate the current route to downtown Edmonton
  • Generally supportive of the student pass and integrated base, including offering these subsidized pass to Spruce Grove residents only.  
  • Some concerns that the U-Pass program will not be honored and that the integrated pass will cost more money. 

Future Changes

  • Mixed opinions on Option A 'two local routes/less trips' v.s. Option B 'one route/more trips'.
  • Concern about less frequency/number of trips on Option A (i.e. only 4 or 5 per route vs. 7 or 8 for current route). Option A 'two routes' with more trips was generally supported because of increased coverage.  
  • Mixed opinion from people living in the areas that would receive service under Option A. Some wanted this for convenience while a small group did not want buses in their neighbourhood. 
  • Riders are interested in better park and ride locations with express buses.
  • General support for West Edmonton Mall service. Agreed evening service would provide more flexibility. No concern was expressed about reduced coverage for this service.
  • New option emerged at open houses based on feedback - Option C 'local express route/more trips'.

Other Themes

  • Trips are too long. 
  • Supportive of the service/it works well now.
  • Park and ride is in the wrong location.
  • Better bus-stop infrastructure is required.
  • Limited understanding among attendees about the high cost/subsidy level of the service.

On-Board Rider Survey, 2014 (riders only)

 

The on-board survey was conducted on March 26, 2014 (Wednesday) on all morning trips between Spruce Grove and Edmonton. In total, 237 people completed the survey.

  • A large majority of riders use the service every day or 5-8 times per week.
  • Riders are typically commuting to work or attending a post-secondary institution. A number of regular riders are using the system to access K-12 schools (~10%).
  • Approximately 10% of riders transfer to ETS currently. A desire to see an integrated pass was a common theme in the open ended question responses.
  • A little over a quarter of riders have a U-Pass. Approximately two-thirds of riders use a commuter-pass while the other one-third uses a cash fare.
  • The most common reason riders cited for riding is ‘it’s cheaper than driving/parking a car’. The next highest responses were ‘environmentally friendly’ and ‘prefer riding the bus’.
  • Preliminary analysis suggests approximately thirty-percent of riders come from outside Spruce Grove.
  • When asked what factors would make riders use the bus more, the most common responses were ‘able to transfer to ETS with the same pass’, ‘more frequent service’ and ‘new midday service’. Strong support also existed for WEM service and evening service.
  • Highest areas of dissatisfaction were crowding and the time of the last trip in the afternoon. Other areas of concern were the time of the last trip in the morning and first trip in the afternoon, the value for money of the passes, and the frequency of the service.
  • Preliminary results suggest (1) less ‘choice riders’ (i.e. people who could take a car or catch a ride instead of riding) are using the system than in previous surveys, and (2) more riders are accessing the system initially by vehicle (driving and parking, getting dropped off) than historical data. These findings are being verified.
  • Over 60% provided additional comments at the end. Concerns about service frequency and fares were the strongest themes. Within service frequency the need for evening and/or midday service was cited most frequently. Dominant fare concerns were not-participating in the U-Pass program, not being able to access the full ETS system, and poor value.  Customer service issues were also a common theme. Concerns about crowding and issues with the drivers were most common. Just over 10% noted that they are happy with the service now. 

On-Line Survey, 2011 (mix of riders/non-riders)

The online survey held in spring 2011 was heavily promoted through local media and City channels. It was reliant on people self-selecting to participate. Over four hundred people responded, split roughly evenly between non-users/former-users of the system and current-users.

  • Survey participants overwhelming are supportive of public transit and view it as an essential municipal service and component of an effective local economy.
  • The majority of riders have access to a personal vehicle and choose to use the service.
  • Over three-quarters of non-users/former-users indicated they would consider using the service if it better met their needs.
  • The most dominant theme in the results was the need for greater flexibility. This includes additional hours of operation and route destinations. Targeted expansion opposed to widespread expansion of service will address most concerns raised.
  • Destinations identified most frequently as priorities for future service were West Edmonton Mall and to a lesser extent Stony Plain. Respondents also would like better access to the LRT network.
  • While results suggest higher demand exists for a strong regional service with connections mid-day, weekends and evenings to/from Edmonton, a core group of respondents is interested in seeing improved local service.
  • Options for participating in the U-Pass program in a way that does not result in cost increases for other riders need to be considered.
  • The outcomes of the City’s transit review should seek to reinforce its current rider base while building on the potential that exists to expand this base.

On-Going Customer Service Feedback

 While feedback received through customer service processes tends to be quite specific, some themes are apparent.

  • Issues with schedule adherence, i.e. bus showing up late (most common) or early.
  • Concern about City’s non-participation in the U-Pass program.
  • Specific suggestions for service improvements, i.e. modified routing and an expanded schedule.
  • Concern about crowding and buses passing up riders at the stops, and to a lesser extent, the use of the system by non-Spruce Grove residents.
  • Concern about the value of the system, i.e. high cost but limited service when compared with systems such as St. Albert and Strathcona County which both offer cheaper passes and much higher levels of service.