For newcomers to Edmonton, transportation is one of the primary needs to address in the first few weeks of living in the city. Neighbourhoods in Edmonton are large and spaced out, so public transportation can help you cover the potentially long distances you may need to travel to get to work, school, or any other destination. Through this article, we hope to provide you with all the information you’ll need to access the public transit in Edmonton.
Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) is the main transit authority of Edmonton. The city has both buses and a Light Rail Train (LRT) service to take you anywhere you need to go.
Tip: To know more about the city of Edmonton, start with the provincial spotlight article for Alberta.
Benefits of using public transportation
You may be wondering why you should take public transit instead of buying a car to drive. Consider these benefits of using public transit regularly when you decide how you will travel in Edmonton:
- Save money: Purchasing a car is a large financial commitment that adds up over time. Newcomers may be surprised at the additional costs of insurance, maintenance, tires, gas, parking, and other hidden costs associated with buying or leasing a car. You can learn more by reading how to buy or lease a car in Canada. Your wallet will thank you for choosing public transit instead.
- Help the environment: A clear benefit to using public transportation is the reduction of your personal carbon footprint. Choosing not to own a car is one of the most effective ways for individuals to cut down on their emissions in their everyday life.
- Health benefits: Adding more activity to your daily routine is one of the best ways to consistently support your health. Using public transit requires more walking and active participation than driving directly to your destination. Add even more daily activity by combining your commute with cycling.
- Avoid traffic: Your commute home on transit may actually take less time than driving as you will not get stuck in traffic. Edmonton’s busiest roads, such as 111 Street, get packed at rush hour times. Instead of getting frustrated in the 5:30 p.m. white-knuckle traffic, you can instead relax and listen to music or read a book on your transit ride home.
- No need to park: Finding a space to park at your destination isn’t always easy, and parking costs are high in populated downtown areas. You can have a lot more flexibility in your travels if you remove the need to park anywhere by simply catching the LRT train instead.
- Constant improvement: Public transit is a large part of Edmonton’s future, so it will continuously be improved to become more efficient and cheaper to travel. The more riders transit has, the more valuable it is to the city, and the more time and money will be spent improving it.
How to pay for public transit in Edmonton
How much does Edmonton transit cost?
For adults, one-way fare for transit is $3.50 CAD. You can also get an unlimited monthly transit pass for $97.00 per month. These fares are valid on any ETS transit service. For buses, you can use exact change, a transit ticket, or a bus pass. If you use a pass on the bus, you must clearly display your pass to the driver. On the LTR, you can use a ticket or pass. You do not need to scan these, but you are required to display them if ever requested for proof of payment by a transit officer.
Tip: Once you pay your fare for a one-way trip, you have 90 minutes to complete any transfers to other forms of transportation to complete your trip. If you pay with cash or ticket fare, you will need to acquire a paper transfer from the bus driver. You can transfer between the bus and the LRT with this transfer.
Where can I buy an Edmonton transit pass?
Fare vending machines are available in LRT stations. You can also purchase ETS pass products throughout the city of Edmonton at any certified retailer. Most convenience stores (like 7-Eleven) or grocery stores carry ETS products.
What are the public transit options in Edmonton?
- Light Rail Transit (LRT): Edmonton has two LRT lines. The Capital Line, which travels from Clareview in the north to Century Park Station in the southwest, and the Metro Line with travels from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in the north to both Health Sciences/Jubilee or Century Park Station. See the locations of all LRT stations.
- Buses: Buses are a common form of transit in Edmonton. Blue and white bus stop signs indicate the bus route number. Find out more about how to ride the bus in Edmonton.
- Streetcar: The High Level Bridge Streetcar is more of a novelty attraction than a transit vehicle. Fares must be paid separately from regular ETS passes or tickets. The streetcar does show up on some trip planning apps, and you can use it to travel over the High Level Bridge.
Starting your trip: Maps and planning tools
Locating your route with transit maps
See the full ETS maps to orient yourself within the city and see how far you need to go:
Options for trip planning tools
The ETS has a trip planning tool in which you can input your origin and destination to find your best transit route. It will calculate a few different route options for you, and then you can decide your optimal route.
Tip: Rocketman is a Canadian-built transit app that you can use to find out when the next bus or train is arriving, track your bus along its route, save your favourite stops, and get transit delay alerts in real-time. You can download the Rocketman app today for free.
Rocketman is easy to use, showing you only the info you need to get you to your destination on time and with minimal waiting. Riders using the app can even see how full each transit vehicle is before boarding with the Crowdedness feature. This feature works by asking commuters to help other riders by reporting how crowded their transit vehicle is, and the app can display these crowdedness levels so all Rocketman users can be better prepared for their commute.
Cycling and transit in Edmonton
Combining cycling and public transportation is a great way to go farther distances with minimal coast and environmental impact. You can also get a great workout cycling to work or school. Bicycles can be attached to any bus you ride on the front bike rack. Instructions for the front bike rack are found right on the rack. You may also bring your bike on the LTR at any non-rush hour (Weekdays 7:30-9:30 a.m. and 4-5:30 p.m.) time. Bike parking is available at most LTR stations.
Tip: Familiarize yourself with Edmonton Bicycle Safety before venturing out on your bike in the city.
Now that you know the benefits of using public transportation in Edmonton, you can start planning your next transit trip using maps and trip planning tools. Using the bus or LRT to explore Edmonton, or to commute to work or school, will help you become familiar with the city quickly. Plus, you will feel good knowing you are saving money and helping out the environment while you ride to your next destination.
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