Fort Saskatchewan Transit

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Fort Sask Transit (FST) is a public transit service in the city of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. It operates two routes within the city, and a third route is contracted to Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) to connect with its service network.

History

Prior to the introduction of a local transit service, the Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) operated a commuter route between Fort Saskatchewan and Edmonton's Clareview Transit Centre. Edmonton Transit Service route 198 was launched in 2004. Mid-day service was cancelled in 2005 due to low demand, and this route was only operated during peak hours.

Fort Sask Transit (FST) was launched as a pilot program on April 26, 2014, in conjunction with the 31st annual Fort Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce Trade Show and Sale. It consisted of two routes, which provided coverage to most of the city's residential and commercial areas. Operation of the buses was contracted to local company Fort Taxi and Buslines. The buses were free to ride for their first five days of operation; fares were introduced on May 1, 2014. Edmonton Transit Service route 198 was modified effective April 28, 2014 to be shorter.

The pilot program was deemed a success, and a full transit service was formally introduced in September 2016. The city purchased three new buses, and the contract to operate these city-owned transit buses was given to Pacific Western Transportation. Ridership has increased significantly since FST's full launch; FST reported that more than 7,300 trips were taken on its local routes in October 2018, which represented a 69% increase from the same time-frame in 2017. Students, new residents, and people with limited mobility represented some of the demographics that saw increased usage.

The U-Pass system, which allows students to pay a flat fee in their tuition for access to regional transit services, was expanded to Fort Saskatchewan in September 2017. In May 2018, Fort Saskatchewan opened a new $3.4 million park-and-ride facility near the Dow Centennial Centre (DCC). The facility has 300 parking stalls and a capacity of 50 people, as well as a heated shelter and bicycle parking. Solar panels and recycled asphalt were incorporated to make the structure more environmentally friendly.

In April 2019, Fort Saskatchewan city council approved the purchase of an electric bus for $397,500, with the city contributing $70,000 of the total cost, and the rest of the cost being covered by provincial and federal grants. This purchase was later cancelled by city council due to the closure of the Alberta Community Transit Fund, which would have provided the provincial contribution for the purchase. In November 2019, mid-day service was re-instated for the ETS commuter route, which had been re-numbered to Edmonton Transit Service route 580. The size of the bus serving Edmonton Transit Service route 580 was cut back in that same period, with a 30-foot Grande West Vicinity Bus replacing the previously used 40-foot New Flyer bus.

Fort Sask Transit route 584, a semi-weekly route tailored to the city's senior population, was launched in March 2019 at a cost of $35,000 per year. It provided seniors with access to downtown, shopping centres, and medical services. However, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the route averaged one rider, or less, per hour. City council voted in late August 2020 to cancel the route as of September 18, 2020, with Mayor Gale Katchur noting that this decision could be revisited as the pandemic eased.

Routes

  • 582 - Westpark, Pineview and Southfort to the Dow Centennial Centre
  • 583 - Bridgeview, downtown and Sherridon to the Dow Centennial Centre

Routes connect to Edmonton Transit Service 580 which runs to Clareview LRT station in Edmonton.

Fares

General fares

The table below lists general fares as of 1 January 2021. FST currently only accepts cash for fare payments made on buses.

Children under 12 (without fare-paying passenger) Adult (18-64) Students (13-17) and seniors (65+)
Cash $2.00 $2.50 $2.00
10 Ticket Pack N/A $22.50 $16.00
Monthly Pass N/A $52.50 $22.00

Children 12 and under ride for free as long as they are accompanied by a fare-paying passenger.

Commuter Fares

FST contracts Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) to provide a connection to the Clareview Transit Centre in Edmonton. The fares for this connecting route, Edmonton Transit Service route 580, are set by ETS.

Children under 12 (without fare-paying passenger) Adult (18-64) Students (13-17) and seniors (65+)
Cash $2.00 $5.00 $4.00
10 Ticket Pack N/A $45.00 $32.00
Monthly Pass N/A $83.00 $37.50

FST also offers an integrated monthly pass which allows for unlimited travel locally and within Edmonton. This pass costs $126.00 for students age 13–17, $180.00 for adults 18–64, and $53.00 for seniors 65+.

Facilities

DCC Park and Ride

Address: Fort Saskatchewan, AB T8L 0G7

Amenities: Park and ride, heated shelter, bicycle parking

North Transfer Station

Address: 95 Street & 99 Avenue, Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Amenities: Heated shelters

PWTransit Bus Garage

Address: #105 – 11129 83 Avenue, Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta T8L 3T9

Functions: Storage and maintenance facility for buses; no transit services are provided from this location.

Roster

Current

Fleet Number Thumbnail Year Manufacturer Model Number Engine Transmission Notes
282-284 Fort Sask Transit Bus.jpeg 2016 Chevrolet/Arboc 4500/SOM26

Retired

Fleet Number Thumbnail Year Manufacturer Model Number Engine Transmission Notes
03 Fort Saskatchewan Transit 03-a.jpg 1997-2002 Ford/Girardin E-450/MV-IV 200C Ford
FTS-14 Fort Saskatchewan Transit FTS-14-a.jpg 2008-2014 Ford/Starcraft Bus E-450/Allstar Ford

Future Plans

Arc card

FST joined the SmartFare program, which comprises an electronic fare card and intermunicipal fare structure, in May 2018. It will allow riders to pay their fares by tapping fare cards when boarding and leaving buses, and riders will eventually be able to pay by tapping their bank cards. Edmonton, St. Albert, Alberta, and Strathcona County are among the other communities which plan to take part in this system. This new system was set to launch in early 2021, but its rollout was delayed by the closure of the Canada-United States border during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On 8 June 2021, it was announced that the SmartFare payment system will be branded as Arc card|Arc. A website – myarc.ca – and a call centre will be launched to provide information and answer questions regarding the new payment system. UPass users became the first users of Arc cards in fall 2021, when postsecondary institutions began Arc card distribution. A pilot test will begin on January 1, 2022, and include 500 adult fare riders. The results from this pilot will be reviewed in March 2022, after-which the system is intended to open to all users who pay a regular adult fare. The final portion of the pilot will commence later in 2022, and expand Arc eligibility to seniors, youth, junior high and senior high school students, customers who purchase low-income passes, DATS riders, and users of regional paratransit services.

A fare vending machine which sells Arc cards and Arc tickets is located at the Dow Centennial Centre, and more fare vending machines will be installed at major locations in the region, including all Edmonton LRT stations and the Edmonton International Airport. The machines will accept cash, debit, and credit cards, and riders can also add money to their account balances online. Each rider's balance is stored on their account, rather than on the Arc cards or Arc tickets themselves. Arc cards will include monthly fare-capping; frequent riders who reach a fare threshold will ride for the remainder of that period for free of charge. Arc tickets work similarly to Arc cards, but will be one-time use only. Once the Arc program launches, riders will still be able to pay their fare with cash, paper passes and tickets until the rollout is complete.

Edmonton Metropolitan Transit Services Commission

In March 2020, Fort Saskatchewan city council voted to join twelve other municipalities to investigate the potential for a regional transit services commission. Its membership in the potential commission was subject to another vote once its cost model was altered to reflect Strathcona County's decision to opt out. The potential commission would allow for weekend transit service in Fort Saskatchewan, and add bus services to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, and West Edmonton Mall. In June 2020, Fort Saskatchewan and eight other regional municipalities, including Edmonton, Leduc, Spruce Grove, and St. Albert, formally submitted an application to the provincial government to establish the Edmonton Metropolitan Transit Services Commission (EMTSC). Their proposal had to be altered after three more municipalities, including Leduc County and Sturgeon County, withdrew from the project. Because Strathcona County opted out of the potential commission, Fort Saskatchewan plans to conduct separate talks with the county to try and establish a route between the city, and the county's Bethel Transit Centre.

The formation of the EMTSC was approved by the Alberta government on 28 January, 2021. A board of elected representatives from each member community is conducting the initial setup of the commission, and working with the commission's inaugural CEO to develop its operational and planning capabilities. The EMTSC will begin service in early 2023. Edmonton's local transit services and LRT network will not be transferred to the commission at first, due to their size and operational costs. The commission's board will re-consider the inclusion of Edmonton's LRT network five years after the commission is formally stood up.

New fleet

The city's 2022 capital budget allocates $660,000 toward the purchase of three new buses in 2022, to replace FST's current buses. This is because the current fleet is near the end of its lifespan, and maintenance costs are rising as a result. FST will work with the EMTSC to ensure that the new buses meet the EMTSC's needs when it takes ownership of them and launches its services.

External Links

References