Starting on December 2, some University of Alberta students lost convenient bus routes due to construction work on the Groat Road Bridge.
ETS is detouring all bus routes on Groat Road until the bridge construction is completed in the summer of 2020. Instead of using Groat Road to service University Transit Centre, Routes 128 and 130, as well as school specials 725 and 757, will detour to Government Centre Transit Centre.
Rowan Anderson, ETS communications advisor, said the bus stop closures are a precautionary safety measure. He said traffic along the bridge had to be limited to a narrow single lane, causing concerns about passenger safety.
“The lane is quite narrow,” Anderson said. “We decided to take a precautionary measure and detour around the area.”
This will create temporary closures of all bus stops along Groat Road, Victoria Park Road, 87 Ave. west of the U of A, as well as two southbound bus stops on 166 Street between Jasper Avenue and 100 Ave.
Anderson added that since passengers are being funnelled into the LRT system, new bus stops will be located near Corona and Grandin/Government Centre LRT stations
“We know that this is an additional transfer for folks,” Anderson said. “It is not ideal, we understand that, but at the same time it is a safety measure in order to keep passengers and operators safe who would be on buses going across that bridge on a very narrow lane.”
Levi Flaman, U of A Board of Governors representative and open studies student, said he was disappointed to see the ETS route closures near his home. He lives south of Lister Centre and usually takes the bus on his commute.
“Fortunately I live nearby,” Flaman said. “It is not too far of a walk, that now I will have to take.”
He added that other than the 318 ETS community route that runs hourly from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., any residents in Windsor Park or Lister Centre will be without bus stops along 87 Ave.
“Now we have a certain area without transit connections,” Flaman said. “For people in the middle of the day, that is super inconvenient.”
In the future, Flaman hopes the city will consult students and staff at the U of A before making such “drastic” changes.
Anderson said that ultimately the safety of ETS staff, patrons, and construction workers on the bridge is the priority.
“We would rather have someone taking a slightly longer trip and get home safely rather than run the risk of being on a bus that is on a very narrow, perhaps slippery crossing of the bridge,” Anderson said.