As of March 21, taking transit in Edmonton is free until further notice.
"Suspending fares adds another layer of protection for our Operators as it eliminates the need for cash and transfer handling, thereby minimizing contact with others and increasing social distancing measures. Changes in fare collection are in response to keeping the community safe, and are not intended to encourage increased use of transit services," reads a news release from the City of Edmonton.
ETS moved to a Saturday schedule on March 16 resulting in crowded buses the next day, prompting concern about the ability to practice social distancing. "We expected more Edmontonians would be staying home," said interim city manager Adam Laughlin. More buses were added that afternoon and ETS continues to operate at reduced service.
“Reduced service means that fewer operators are on the road as COVID-19 infection rates increase,” said Laughlin. “Fewer buses in operation means that we can do more vigorous cleaning and disinfecting on vehicles that are in use.”
The City said on March 20 that transit ridership is down 62% and they're projecting a decrease of 75% in the days ahead.
When technology allows, "LRT operators are now opening train doors so passengers can, in a time of pandemic, get on and off trains without touching buttons." The newer SD160 trains, "which account for two-thirds of the fleet," allow for this while the older trains do not. On buses, doors are opened automatically by the operators.
As of March 21, buses must be entered through the read doors (unless otherwise required, such as for accessibility reasons).