Edmonton Sky Shuttle: Doomed!

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. Their shuttles have been 45 minutes late (for my girlfriend a few weeks ago).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Their grade of F from the Better Business Bureau.
  7. 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).
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. (Although more minor) Some sketchy gum got stuck to my foot in the last ride I took to the airport.
  14. 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.

2 thoughts on “Edmonton Sky Shuttle: Doomed!”

  1. My name’s Adam.

    It’s not my real name in life and I use it to protect my identity and dignity.

    I was a SkyShuttle driver for several months until this company decided to lay-off a couple of drivers early February 2010, me included and after entering a new policy and directive about the “Going Green” bullshit.
    I totally agree with the testimony of this person above, and I don’t blame him for mentioning how SkyShuttle really works, because it’s the truth. In my country of origin, we say “All truth is good to say!”

    Before they changed the routing and pretending they weren’t running on schedule anymore (starting January 2010), it worked just “okay”. I picked up my customers at the main hotels on the three different routes (University, Downtown and West End).
    Personally I never understood the way why they didn’t add another shuttle from the airport when there was more than 10 persons going on the same route all at once, especially on University or Downtown routes which are the busiest ones.

    After they adopted the new routing, the “Going Green” stuff (which was supposed to be effective in July 2009 and finally been introduced in January 2010), that was a real mess and I don’t count the number of persons I heard complaining about the “new” service, those users were regular customers. Do you think acceptable strating the moment a first customer arrives at the SkyShuttle ticket desk at the airport they have to wait 45 minutes to board and leave, after maybe being tired of a long trip by plane, who knows? Does that make sense??
    I’m explain more clearly… If someone arrives and ask “I would like to go to the Ramada (Kingsway)” and nobody before came to ask for this route, then he is the first passenger for this very route and has to wait 30, 45mn or eventually ONE hour depending the route (West End stops are the ones the less served on all SkyShuttle stops! so customers were forced to wait 1 hour)… at that stage I would definitely prefer taking a taxicab or a limo, even if it’s more expensive (but if you’re a few you can share the ride and it’s still cheap), I would arrive faster especially if I am tired and directly at home.

    The drivers have to wait sometimes long hours on parking lots of Oliver Square or Mayfield Common before being called by the dispatch to take a run. I’m not joking… go there and see! They all wait there to be dispatched. I experienced it many times, sometimes 3 hours waiting! And in winter with the engine idling… that’s really GOING GREEN!!
    Plus with that you add the number of prank calls the dispatch receive or customers who decide to not board and didn’t call to advise, and we had to stop for some “ghosts” customers very often…

    The main problem above all is the dispatch, and I am not surprised the author mentioned the lack of apologies from it. There’s a young girl who’s dispatching on afternoons and early evening on weekdays and who is completely unaware about the traffic patterns and the delays it can occur if there are construction zones, bad weather, accidents or rush hour traffic. I dropped once a customer at the Westin Downtown (100 St and Jasper Ave) just before 6:00pm and she wanted me to pick-up a customer who booked the service at the Fantasyland Hotel at the West Edmonton Mall on 178 Street / 87 Ave at… 6:15pm! She also had the stupid tendency to ask me to return backwards to pick-up a customer at a place I stopped on my run, because the previous driver was delayed (mainly while a snow storm jammed the traffic). That’s a total lack of respect for the passengers already on-board looking to catch their flight on-time!

    The rates now… when you purchase your tickets at the airport desk, it’s still $15 one-way and $25 return, not that cheap but fair. Now… if you board for the first time FROM the city centre TO the airport, the drivers aren’t able or even authorized to sell the same, they don’t even have the return tickets handy on-board. It’s still $15 one-way, and $30 round trip, which is completely unfair. I’m calling this ripping off, pardon me the expression. Why a rate which is in application in one way cannot be the same both ways? It’s the way it works in every cities of the world where an airport shuttle service exists. I traveled quite a lot around the world to be sure of what I’m saying.

    As employees, we had to keep passengers tickets in an enveloppe we dropped at the end of the day at the office when we finished the shift. The number of tickets “in hands” has to match the same number of tickets sold on the trip sheet. If one or a few tickets were missing, the company reserved the right to deduct $15 per lost tickets on the driver’s pay! But customers already paid and the amount of money cash or credit is matching with the trip sheet, the same if the customer bought the ticket at the airport… the airport desk has received the right amount of money! Once again… it’s ripping off and making unfair profit.

    When the ETS will operate this route between Century Park and EIA, that will completely screw SkyShuttle. Look what happened in Vancouver when they opened the Canada Line in 2009 and offered a stop directly at YVR Vancouver Int’l Airport.
    Customers want two things on a service between a city centre and its airport :

    – A prompt and efficient service
    – A cheap way to ride

    … and it’s what ETS will offer anytime soon! I encourage everybody to ride this service.

  2. i was wondering if theres a shuttle going to the city and where dose it go and how much one way from luduc airport to the city.i need to get my girl home here in clareview or even to the bus depot, greyhound downtown.can i go on the shuttle and go to the airport and get her she is 13 years old write to me as soon as possible, thank-you, irene.

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