The Rainbow Bus Brigade

Imagine an Edmonton where locals and visitors alike could get around from one cool spot to another quickly, easily & in style!

by emil tiedemann

OVER the years one of the main concerns and annoyances I've heard from visitors to Edmonton is the ability to get from one 'tourist destination' to another, quickly and with ease. We're an expansive city, and these sought-after destinations can be far in between, so getting around to all of them is a near impossibility if we've got visiting travellers who do not have a vehicle and a knack for directions. 

The Purple Bus would run to Churchill, Whyte and of course, the Muttart!

Or maybe you're from Edmonton and you've got weekend out-of-towners stopping by, and you want to parade them around your hometown's hot spots, but all you've got for getting around is a 5-speed with a pink basket on the front of it.

Perhaps you're an Edmontonian without any sort of wheels of your own, but after all these years you've finally found the time to see what some of these local attractions are all about!

Whatever the case may be, I think that this is something the City might want to look into: a way to get people around quicker and easier from one prime Edmonton locale to another. I'm not talking about city buses, taxi cabs, the LRT or even Uber...nope, I'm talking about the Rainbow Bus Brigade! By the way, the jury is still out on that name.

What is this brilliant idea, you ask! Okay, well just imagine...

The Rainbow Bus Brigade is a concept that would give Edmontonians and its visitors an ideal mode of transportation from one #yeg attraction to another in a fast, easy, inexpensive, and downright awesome manner!

You might suggest that they take the Edmonton Transit System, a taxi or even use Uber. Well, those are all fine and dandy options, except that the ETS does not always go directly from one key destination to another, and there are always plenty of time-consuming stops in between for almost all of these routes. 

The LRT system is a great one, but there are many areas in #yeg in which it does not stretch to, such as West Ed or Whyte Avenue.

Waiting for cabs is no fun, and they can be uber expensive, while Uber can be awkward and sketchy, and just as expensive if you're using that particular service all day long. And let's be real, walking from West Ed to downtown, or from Whyte to Fort Edmonton, is just out of the question, unless you're Forrest Gump.

And that's where the Rainbow Bus Brigade comes in to play! This would be a unit of five (or more) double decker buses that are City-owned and operated, each one painted a bright colour (red, green, yellow, purple, blue) to distinguish them from one another. There would even be a beautiful mural painted on both sides of each bus, representing their respective destinations.

For example, the RED BUS would have Fort Edmonton Park and the Valley Zoo painted on its sides, because those would be the only two spots that it would transport locals and visitors to and from. And yes, I am aware that there is actually a city bus that already does this, but it is indistinguishable from all the others, and it does not have that same appeal as a brightly coloured double-decker would!

Each bus would use the Ice District ETS station as its central pick-up and drop-off spot, and it would cost something like $5 per adult per trip (with a transfer slip that offers a two-hour expiry window), or you could choose some sort of $20 ride-all-day option. Children and seniors would pay about $3 a ticket, though anyone under the age of three would ride for free. 

The Ice District's ETS station would be the 'headquarters' of the Rainbow Bus Brigade, with rides starting at 9AM

The buses would all begin running at 9AM and end depending on the day and the hours of the buses' destinations. They would run only through the months of May and August, when tourism is at its peak.

Here's a lowdown of where each bus would go:

THE RED BUS would start at the Ice District's LRT & bus station ('the headquarters') at 9AM and head non-stop to Fort Edmonton Park, where it would remain for about 10 minutes before moving on directly to the Valley Zoo. It would stay put for about 10 minutes there as well, and then head back to the Ice District to start all over again. RED would stop running at around 6PM, when these attractions have closed up for the day.

- THE GREEN BUS would escort locals and non-locals from our future Ice District down through Jasper Avenue (& 109th Street) beginning at 9AM, and down to 124th Street. From there it would drop you off at the TELUS World of Science, and finally at West Edmonton Mall. GREEN would quit running at around 9PM, or 11PM on the weekends.

- THE YELLOW BUS would shuttle folks from the Ice District to South Edmonton Common, starting at 9AM, and from there would head to the Edmonton International Airport, which will eventually be home to a brand new outlet mall. YELLOW would run until about 9 or 10 in the evening.

- THE PURPLE BUS would begin at the Ice District at 9AM and take off to Churchill Square, then to the Muttart Conservatory, and finally head down Whyte Avenue, before heading back to 'headquarters.' PURPLE would cease its Muttart stop after 5PM (except on Thursdays, when the Muttart is open until 9PM), and then stop altogether at around Midnight.

- THE BLUE BUS would be a temporary back-up used only during large-scale events, so it would bring people from the Ice District to - for example - FIFA games at Commonwealth, Heritage Festival in Hawrelak, K-Days at Northlands, or even the St. Albert Farmers' Market! When there are no such events happening, BLUE can be rented out for private functions.

The Heritage Festival would be one of the many events that could use The Blue Bus, which would be for temporary events such as this

I am aware that there are already express buses that the ETS runs in a similar fashion, but not for each one of these routes, not for extended hours (in some cases), and none are exactly appealing or even distinguishable to passengers.

Wouldn't you rather ride in a bright & colourful double-decker bus (perhaps with an open roof) that played music (including live buskers during particular summer weekend hours), and that offered its passengers TV screens, wi-fi, phone chargers, and information on the City and all its attractions & events?! And at night, they would light up!

Sure, I sound like a dreamer, but that doesn't mean that this concept couldn't happen. It's just one option for our city to make sure locals and visitors have the best overall experience here in Edmonton. It couldn't hurt, right?! 

Welcome to Edmonton, home of the Rainbow Bus Brigade?!


Popular posts from this blog

The Ultimate Edmonton Donair Guide

Did You Know? (Boston Pizza)

A Few Minutes With...Colin Close