First the long-overdue news: The Edmonton Transit System Advisory Board is strongly recommending that when the South LRT extension opens at Century Park that ETS add a route that goes from the new LRT station to the airport as an add-fare for an extra $2.50 [pdf report]. They recommend half-hour service and have strong evidence that the service would be hugely successful and would break even at 27 riders per bus (under half full I think).
The better news: This will mean the end of the crap scam-of-a-service that is the Edmonton Sky Shuttle.
Why I want the Edmonton Sky Shuttle to die:
- My first experiences with the Shuttle a few years ago were terrifying reckless drivers who made it their mission to race around Edmonton side streets and down the QE2 in record time to attempt to get to the airport.
- Their disclaimer that shuttles may be ±15 minutes, which on half-hour service means their shuttles show up at random intervals, up to an hour apart. Note that Edmonton Transit is much more consistent with their timings then this (and don’t give me stories of when the bus was late – think how many times it was on time).
- Their shuttles have been 45 minutes late (for my girlfriend a few weeks ago).
- Their fake “Going Green” campaign which means they no longer stop (or even slow down) at half their stops, while they still run empty or half-empty vans to the airport. Meanwhile, I’ve had a couple rides since this new “only stop if you book us” policy where the driver still stops at every hotel en route.
- The driver I had from the airport at 1 am one night who had his buddy in the passenger seat play a portable DVD player for him to watch while highway driving – that helped me feel safe.
- Their grade of F from the Better Business Bureau.
- Their new stop at Army & Navy (which is more convenient for where I live in Edmonton), is apparently at the SE entrance (on 104 St.), however that extra information is not listed anywhere on their website (the best they list is in the dropdown list on the “Book Online” feature which gives the Whyte Avenue address).
- After waiting 10 minutes past my time of booking for a shuttle at the wrong Army & Navy entrance I had to call them only to find out that they claimed to have stopped at Army & Navy at the scheduled time, and would book me on the next Shuttle.
- After waiting until 5 minutes after the next scheduled time, the shuttle I was told was coming and looking for me drove right by and after calling the dispatcher again he circled the block and picked me up, while I was about to hail a cab.
- At no point in the 3 phone calls to dispatch complaining about the lack of shuttles for me did they offer any sort of apology for their service, and rather promised a shuttle was going to be “right there” when it was actually still 10 minutes away.
- When I brought all my complaints to the driver before getting off the airport before paying, he neither cared, apologized, or even shed a tear that I would never use their service again.
- Once, when we were waiting for a sky shuttle with a large group, the van filled and a couple of us had to wait at the curb for a shuttle they were sending, after half an hour we just grabbed a waiting cab. Luckily their atrocious customer service has meant they’re only routinely taking between 1 and 5 people per trip.
- (Although more minor) Some sketchy gum got stuck to my foot in the last ride I took to the airport.
- Also, I doubt that they have permission from the city to stop at half of the curbside stops they offer (the Army & Navy one is an ETS stop). If they do have permission, perhaps they could get a nice little sign to make it obvious that you’re waiting for their shuttle.
Customer service apparently isn’t important when you run the only affordable way to get from the remote Edmonton International Airport (one-way cabs cost around $50). Their ridership seems to be declining and I don’t doubt that if the city has its act together and approves the airport bus route (and doesn’t cave to the cab lobby) that the Sky Shuttle will quickly disappear from the roads.
It’s bad enough already that the only way to get from the airport to Edmonton is Airport Taxi (no other cab companies are allowed to pick-up from the airport), a limo, or the Sky Shuttle; and to go from Edmonton to the airport you can take any cab (except Airport Taxi), a limo, or the Sky Shuttle. This means that other than the Sky Shuttle – every cab is empty on at least one leg of the 45-minute one way Edmonton-Airport trip.
So here’s hoping that Edmonton Transit listens to their advisory board, smartens up and makes this bus route a go come April – that will mean only a couple cab rides for me, because I’ll be caught dead before another dollar of mine goes to Edmonton Sky Shuttle.