Edmonton transit service temporarily cuts more than 330 weekday trips in response to driver shortage caused by COVID-19 spread

The cut trips, across 63 routes, amount to about two per cent of the city’s bus service

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Edmonton’s transit service is temporarily cutting more than 330 weekday trips across many routes as a result of driver shortages due to the rising spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

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The City of Edmonton announced the immediate changes adjustments Wednesday afternoon, just a day after the local transit union told Postmedia that not all the shifts were being filled and some trips were missed as a result. The city was trying to avoid service impacts by allocating overtime work to drivers.

In its last update Friday the city said there were 28 active cases of COVID-19 among transit operators, of which there are 1,700, but didn’t have updated numbers of those in isolation or off for other reasons.

The cut trips, across 63 routes, amount to about two per cent of the city’s bus service and were targeted on routes that have high-frequency service to minimize impact to riders as much as possible. Transit branch manager Carrie Hotton-MacDonald said weekend, LRT, on demand, DATS and regional service would continue as normal without any changes.

“The health and safety of our riders and staff remain our top priority and we understand changes to bus service may create challenges for some riders. This is top of mind and we are working to minimize any disruption to riders as much as possible,” she said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the service closely and we thank riders for their patience and understanding.”

A full list of the adjustments can be found online.

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The city is working to update all trip planning tools by Jan. 15 but some routes may not have real-time updates available until Jan. 23. Riders can also call 311 for trip planning assistance.

Transit service was previously reduced in October for a temporary period as a result of 15 operators being placed on temporary leave for not following the city’s mandatory vaccination policy. Regular service resumed a month later.

There were 130 active cases of COVID-19 among City of Edmonton employees as of the latest update Friday, 40 of the cases in the fire department.

In an update Wednesday, the Edmonton Police Service said there are currently 70 active cases of COVID-19 among staff, down from 100 last week, and 143 currently in isolation. Of those currently away, 111 are sworn officers and 80 staff are expected to return within the next week.



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