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For newcomers arriving in Edmonton getting to know the public transit system may seem overwhelming. But once you become familiar with the transit system, you’ll be able to get around the city quickly and cost-effectively. When arriving in any new city in Canada, it’s important to have a quick, reliable and cost-efficient way to get around. If you are moving to Edmonton, public transport is one of the best ways to get from one place to another. Edmonton has an extensive transport system that can quickly get you from one place to another within the city. And, it is much more affordable than owning and maintaining a new car.

Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) operates both buses and a Light Rail Transit (LRT) system. Edmonton’s LRT is not the most extensive, but it can cover long distances in a short period of time. Buses are more extensive but they aren’t as fast as LRT trains. The LRT train service combined with the bus system provides a quick and extensive system to meet all your transportation needs.


Public Transit versus Car Ownership

There are many benefits to using the ETS over owning a car. Not only is public transport cheaper than owning a car but it is also more environmentally friendly. Since a single public transport vehicle can carry more people than a car, using public transport will help you lower your carbon footprint. This means that you, as an individual, will be limiting the amount of harmful gasses that are released into the environment. As well, using public transport will also save you on car-related costs such as fuel and maintenance. For newcomers, this is helpful because managing your expenses is critical during your first few months in Canada while you search for a job.


Let’s take a look at both the bus system and the LRT system in Edmonton and how each mode of public transit will help you get around quickly and cost-effectively.

Edmonton Public Transit: Light Rail Transit System

Edmonton was the first Canadian city to build an LRT system with a population of less than 1 million. The LRT is also one of the fastest ways to get around Edmonton. With 18 stations spread out over two train lines, the LRT system provides the backbone for Edmonton’s transit system.

The first of the two LRT lines is the Capital Line. The Capital line connects northeast Edmonton to the south. It consists of 15 stations and 21 km of track, making it bigger than the other LRT line. The second LRT line is called the Metro Line, consisting of 14 stations. The Metro Line and the Capital line both share stations and tracks so the numbers don’t perfectly add up.

Expanding the LRT System in Edmonton

Edmonton has big plans for its LRT system. It plans to expand its LRT system to all sectors of the city by 2040. To achieve this goal, there are currently many projects in the planning and construction stage. To learn about the four major projects concerning Edmonton’s LRT, click here. Here is a brief explanation of each one below.

The first two projects Edmonton is working on both concern the new Valley Line. Once it is finished, the Valley line will connect Millwoods, in southeast Edmonton, to Lewis Farms, in west Edmonton. The Valley Line is divided into two sections, with downtown Edmonton being the divider. The Valley Line will add 27 km of track and 28 new stations to Edmonton’s public transport system once it is finished. The first section of the Valley Line, which connects Millwoods to downtown, is almost finished. The second section, which will connect downtown to Lewis Farms, is expected to open by 2026 or 2027.


The other two projects are both expansions of the existing two lines. Edmonton is currently working on expanding both the Capital Line and the Metro Line to better serve the transportation needs of Edmontonians. The Capital Line will extend towards the south and the Metro Line will expand northwest.

Once these projects are complete, Edmonton is going to have a modern and extensive LRT system that connects all parts of the city. But even then, Edmonton’s buses will not lose popularity. Let’s take a look at Edmonton’s bus system and when you should use it over the LRT system.

Edmonton Transit System: Getting Around by Bus

Buses are the main mode of public transit in Edmonton. No matter where you live in Edmonton, there will be a bus stop nearby. Most likely, you will have multiple bus stops within a five-minute walk. If you are unsure, you can always open Google Maps and search, “bus stop”, for a map of all the bus stops near you.

Edmonton’s public transport has one of the best bus networks in Canada. With 191 routes and 7456 bus stops, you can get anywhere in Edmonton by using the bus. Keep in mind that you might have to transfer to another bus if your destination is on the other side of the city. However, there is no need to worry as you won’t have to pay extra for a transfer and buses run often.

The bus network, combined with the LRT system makes Edmonton’s public transport an ideal way to get around the city. Public transport is also a very cost-effective option. Let’s take a look at the ETS fare system.

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The Cost of Public Transit in Edmonton

The fare system for Edmonton’s public transport is made to be simple and easy to understand for all riders. To access Edmonton’s full guide on its fare system click here. Below is an overview of fare pricing for public transit in Edmonton. Keep in mind that fare prices are the same for both buses and LRT.

Youth* (12 – 24)$3.50$19.75$73.00
Adult (25 – 64)$3.50$27.75$100.00
Senior (65+)$3.50$19.75$35.00**
Edmonton Public Transit Fares

*Children under 12 ride free when they travel with a youth, adult or senior. If not, then children must also pay the regular fare of $3.50.

**Some seniors may also qualify for discounted or even free annual passes. To learn more about Senior ETS passes, click here.

As you can see, the regular fare for youth, adults and seniors is the same. However, if you buy a book of 10 tickets, you will get a discount for each ride. You may be wondering, where do I get a ticket book?

Where to Buy Ticket Books

Ticket books are available at many locations. You can buy them at:

  • Ticket Vending Machines

Ticket Vending Machines are located at all LRT stations. ETS sales outlets are any retailers that sell ETS fare products. 7-eleven and Safeway are examples of ETS sales outlets. The ETS online store is another great place to buy ETS fare products. ETS fare products not only include ticket books but also monthly passes for youth, seniors, and adults.

TIP: You can also get a monthly pass for Edmonton’s public transit system. A monthly pass is a great option to help you save money if you plan to use public transit regularly.

Using the Arc Card on Edmonton’s Public Transit System

ETS is currently working on a new way to pay for public transit fares. The Arc Card is an automated fare smart card that can be used to pay for your fare. As of August 2021, the Arc Card is in its first phase of the rollout. Once the third phase is complete sometime in 2022, everyone will be able to use the Arc Card to pay their fare.

The Arc system is based completely online, meaning if you lose your registered Arc Card, you can transfer your account balance to a new card.- Once the Arc Card has been fully released in Edmonton, you will be able to get one at any Arc Card vending machine in the city. Arc Card vending machines will be available at every LRT station throughout the city. As the Arc Card is getting released, ETS will also start making Arc Cards available at other locations as well.

Financial Benefits of Using the Arc Card

Using an Arc Card will allow riders to contribute to a monthly or daily cap. The monthly cap for an adult rider using the Arc Card is $100. This means that once you have $100 worth of fares using the Arc Card, you can ride the ETS for free for the remainder of the month. It is sort of like a monthly pass, except you only pay when you ride. This system is designed to reward frequent ETS riders and encourage them to use the Arc Card. To learn more about the Arc Card, click here.

Keep in mind that Arc is a new project and many things are subject to change. ETS has not released an Arc Card for seniors or youth yet so all the numbers have not been set. By the time Arc is released in 2022, all ETS riders will be able to get an Arc Card. As of now, it is clear that Edmonton is introducing this new electronic fare system to make fare payment easier and help frequent riders save money on transportation.

Using Edmonton’s public transit system is a great way to get around the city. From expanding LRT routes to introducing the Arc Card, Edmonton is currently working on many ways to improve its transit system. In the future, you can expect to see an even more modern and well-connected public transport system throughout the city. This can provide the convenience and cost-savings that can help you when you arrive in Edmonton.

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