Edmonton Transit System route 5
Edmonton Transit System route 5 is a trolley bus route operated by Edmonton Transit System.
ETS trolley bus route 5 is a major crosstown route running from Westmount TC to Colisuem LRT Station through the downtown core. It starts at the Westmount Terminal on 135 St/112 Ave. After leaving the terminal, it travels north on 135 St, turning right onto 114 Ave. It passes by the Woodcroft Library and commercial areas behind Westmount Centre. After crossing Groat Road, the route continues down 114 Ave through a neighborhood of single family house to 124 St, including a one block private right of way through the old grounds of the Charles Camsell Hospital. After turning, the route serves the commercial and medium density residential areas down 124 St to Jasper Ave, sharing wires with the route 3 from 114 Ave to 107 Ave, passing short turn loops at 112 Ave and 108 Ave and crossing the route 7/133 wire at 107 Ave. Turning east on Jasper Ave, the route travels throught the Oliver area towards the downtown core, sharing wire with the route 120. An around the block loop exists at 109 St/102 Ave/108 St, and the route crosses the route 7/133 wires at 101 St again. From 101 St to 97 St, the westbound wires are also shared with route 3. After travelling through the office centre of downtown, the route turns north off Jasper Ave onto 97 St, right next to the Shaw Conference Centre. After one block on 97 St, the route turns east on 102 Ave to get to 95 St. Westbound buses from 95 St to 97 St use 102 A Ave, as both roads are one way. Turning north on 95 St, the route passes through one of the more depressed areas of Edmonton, before crossing the LRT tracks at 105 Ave. Running north past the crossing, the route passes through Edmonton's Little Italy. At Norwood Blvd, the route 3 once again shares wires on with the route 5 up to 115 Ave. The route 5 then stays on 95 St, then turns down 118 Ave and heads east through the Alberta Avenue neighborhood to the Coliseum LRT Station. Service is every 15 minutes for most of the day, but drops down to 30 minutes after 10:00pm on Weekdays and Saturdays and 6;00pm on Sundays, as well as before 9:00am on weekend mornings. During rush hour and weekday midday, service from Westmount to 95 St/102 Ave is boosted to every 7-8 minutes. This short turn service is operated as route 135.
Early History:Inception to the end of World War II
The earliest incarnation of what could be considered route 5 began on June 24, 1933, when a route revision created the Red-Sign Streetcar that ran in a large one way loop via north 95 St, west 111 Ave, south 101 St, east Jasper Ave. This route ran with two streetcars throughout the depression. Service ended in the middle of the summer of 1939, when work was being undertaken to prepare 95 St for trolley buses. Route 5 trolley service began on September 24, 1939, running from a loop at 95 St/111 Ave via 95 St and Jasper Ave to a downtown loop via 100 St, 102 Ave, 102 St and back onto Jasper. The new trolley bus service was initially operated with AEC/EEC and Leyland trolleys, and proved to be an improvement over the streetcars. For most of the war years, route 5 continued to operate from downtown to 95 St/111 Ave. There were a few attempts to extend the service via 95 St and 115 Ave to the 82 Street (Cromdale) loop along what was service wires, replacing a parallel streetcar service on 114 Ave. Despite several attempts, the high demand for trolleys on the 5, as well as the Low Level Bridge (#6) route meant there were not enough buses for this extension, and material restrictions brought about by the war meant that there was a limited supply of materials for new trolleys. As a result, streetcars continued to ply 114 Ave, while the wires on 115 Ave remained for garage pull ins and pull outs only until well after the war.
Expansion throughout the 40's and 50's
The first major extension of route 5 occurred on October 5, 1947, after the first CCF/Brill trolleys had been delivered. On this date, the route ceased using the downtown loop, and was extended west on Jasper Ave and north on 124 St to the 108 Ave loop, replacing the western leg of the blue and blue-and-white sign streetcars. The day before, ETS assigned numbers to their bus routes, and the route officially became route 5. Less than a year later, the route was again extended on May 2, 1948 further up 124 St to 118 Ave, with a loop at 112 Ave for peak hour extras, the site of a former streetcar wye. This extension took over part of the red-and-green sign streetcar route, as the route was split in half with the removal of rails on 124 St. Route 5 operated the full length of this extension for the summer only. On August 29, 1948, trolley buses took over 107 Ave, and the 107 Ave route (then #2) ran up 124 St to 118 Ave. Route 5 was cut back to the 112 Ave loop. Also on August 29, the rotue was finally extended via 95 St and 115 Ave to Cromdale Loop. This arrangement lasted until the end of streetcar service on September 1, 1951. On September 2, 1951 the route 5 was rerouted to travel all the way up 95 St to 118 Ave, and then east to a loop between 81 and 80 streets, replacing part of Edmonton's last streetcar route. This was the final extension to the route 5 for over 20 years.
The 60's and 70's
For the 60's, with the loss of a Canadian vehicle supplier, Edmonton's trolley system saw only minor expansions, and the route 5 remained unchanged from September 2, 1951 until December 8, 1974. On that day, the route was extended from the 124 St/112 Ave loop via 124 St, 114 Ave and 135 St to the Westmount terminal. From St Albert Tr to 128 St, this route includes a one block private right of way through the grounds of the Charles Camsell Hospital, with the silent running of the trolleys being a plus factor in gaining permission to not have to detour around the hospital grounds. On February 1, 1976, the route 4 (peak extras on the west end of route 3), began operating to Westmount. A new peak hour route, the #6, began service duplicating the 5 from 81 St/118 Ave to 124 St/114 Ave, then following the route 3 to Groat Rd/118 Ave. Another extension of route 5 opened in 1978 with the opening of the LRT, when the route was extended east along 118 Ave from 81 St to an around the block loop via 72 St, 119 Ave and 73 St. This provided an connection to the Coliseum LRT Station.
The 80's and 90's
As Edmonton entered a recession in the 1980's, and the expansion of the trolley bus system was halted, route 5 continued to operate from Westmount to Coliseum. While the route saw some cuts in service, notably the elimination of the duplicate #4, and cutting the #6 to an Oliver-Downtown diesel route, the route did not see as severe cuts as some other routes, such as the #3 did. The only modification to the route since the opening of the LRT extension came in the summer of 1996, when Capilano Freeway (now Wayne Gretzky Dr) was extended to the Yellowhead Tr, taking over the right of way of 72 St NB and 73 St SB. This forced the route 5 to be cut back to the Coliseum bus terminal. New wire was strung, and the old wire from 78 St east was removed.
On June 29, 1997, with the Horizon 2000 restructuring, route 5 (due to the trolleys) was one of the few routes to escape significant modification. The route was left alone, but frequencies and depature times were adjusted. The 7-8 minute service, previous run for the whole length of the route during rush hour, was cut back to Westmount to Downtown only, and operated as route 135. Since then, route 5 has seen some modest increases, most notably with the addition of midday service to route 135, some trips being extended to start/finish earlier, and the start of 15 minute service on weekdays being moved from 6:00 to 5:00 in September 2007.
As long as the current trolley system is kept in Edmonton, route 5 will continue to operate along its current route. The route serves many transit friendly areas, with high density, mixed usage and increasing development. The continued revitalisation of the downtown area will continue to attract more riders to the route, and others serving the core. If ridership continues its current increasing trend, route 5 will almost certainly need more service, perhaps through extended hours for the route 135, or increased frequencies for the entire length of the route during all time periods.