How Edmonton finally prepared for the micro-transit revolution / by Tim Querengesser

Sometimes, disruption requires a second kick at the can. 

In July, following a misinformation campaign alleging that Uber was planning to take over Edmonton Transit Service, the former city council voted to strike investigating how ride-sharing and other private transportation services could be mixed into its future transit strategy from the instructions it was giving to its administrators.

In effect, the council told its own transportation planners to pretend the world isn't as it is and that the micro-transit revolution is not happening, despite contrary evidence from Los Angeles, London, Orange County, Vancouver, and, well, most other cities Edmonton should be paying attention to.

 Courtesy: Bridj 

Courtesy: Bridj 

Thankfully, as one of the first items it voted on, the newly-elected council reversed this decision in November. What this means is rather innocuous but important: City bureaucrats are now allowed to research if, and how, private-mobility companies are amplifying and encouraging transit usage rather than told to pretend it isn't happening.

There are a few points to note, though.

Since the original vote, a new study has found Uber is not feeding transit. Instead, it's increasing the number of vehicle-miles traveled. Unfortunately, many substitute "Uber" for all micro-transit companies, despite the very different aims these companies have. 

Consider RideCo, or Divvy, and then consider how integrating them into transit has helped cities not only realize huge investments in transit infrastructure but also to help the actual people that matter most in this equation — transit users. Make transit use easy, convenient, safe, heck even free, and evidence shows ridership goes up and car-dependency goes down.  

All of this felt like it was coming home recently as I walked Jasper Avenue and noticed a Care for A Ride vehicle, from Sherwood Park, drive by. The company now has 25 vehicles and specializes in providing a ride-share service for seniors and those with mobility challenges who are based beyond the edge of Edmonton's city limits. 

Integrating this service into our mass transit system — rather than treating it as verboten and unwanted — just makes sense for the passengers who clearly feel this service fills a needed gap.