Edmonton Transit Service Bus Network Redesign and On Demand Transit Implementation

Target Audience: The target audience for the Bus Network Redesign implementation campaign was existing transit users. These individuals would feel the immediate impact of the changes to Edmonton's bus routes. The second target audience was residents in select communities where On Demand Transit was replacing fixed-route service or being introduced to newer neighbourhoods that never had a public transit option. These residents needed to be made aware of the service and educated about how to access it.

Strategy Objective:Public education about the new bus routes and On Demand Transit service gradually ramped up over six months starting in October 2020. Replacing bus stop signs with new information created an opportunity to increase awareness. It was followed by an advertising campaign in February 2021. Due the COVID-19 pandemic, most public education was done online with videos and presentations with stakeholders. Targeted communications were executed in On Demand Transit communities. About one month out from implementation, riders could preview routes using trip planners. In-person outreach took place in the week leading up to and the week of launch to assist riders navigating the new bus routes in April 2021. Collaboration across city departments was critical to the successful launch.

Situation Challenge: In late 2019, Edmonton City Council approved the revised Transit Service Policy and Transit Service Standards Procedures, which allowed ETS to implement a new bus network. Then in early 2020, City Council approved an On Demand Transit pilot project in 37 communities and 16 large seniors' residences, which is the largest of its kind in Canada. Because every bus route in the network was new and ETS was introducing a new service line, a robust public education and awareness campaign was required to ensure transit riders knew changes were coming and how to prepare for those changes on day one.

Results Impact: According to ETS' customer satisfaction survey conducted shortly after the launch of the new routes and On Demand Transit service, 84% of respondents said they were aware of the new routes, 79% said they were exposed to communications and 51% said they had sufficient information to complete their trip. In addition to these results, Transit app reported 5,000 downloads of their app on the first day riders could preview the new routes and schedules in March 2021. They also reported 30% of their users tapped in-app banners letting them know about the changes. Web traffic for the landing page related to the changes increased from 47,000 unique visitors in March to nearly 70,000 in April. On social media, there were nearly 25.3M impressions and 165,000 clicks across all platforms.

Why Submit: Unanticipated challenges posed by operating during a global pandemic required our working group to be creative, collaborative and flexible to meet the project goals to deliver on a fixed launch date. This meant the communications and marketing approach needed to continually pivot based on changes in public health and staff safety guidelines, as well as ensuring riders had timely access to the information they needed to adapt to a new transit network. Despite a significantly reduced in-person outreach program, the results of the campaign showed we were successful in making riders aware of the changes.