The Edmonton International Airport (YEG) is approximately 25 minutes by car from the downtown core (depending on traffic). It is Canada's most northerly 24-hour international passenger airport and is the fifth-busiest airport in the country. An architectural masterpiece it is not (although expansion projects are under way) but it is easy to navigate and baggage carts and Wi-Fi are free. Many connecting flights to Northern destinations fly out of here or out of the City Centre Airport, located north of downtown servicing small charters and private aircraft. A cab from downtown to YEG costs about $60. Or you can take the Skyshuttle bus service ($30 for a round-trip ticket). It departs regularly with drop offs at many major hotels throughout the city.
You can get to Edmonton by train courtesy of VIA Rail, Canada’s national passenger service. Visitors traveling by train from the U.S. must transfer from Amtrak to VIA Rail on either coast and continue to Alberta. Special service between Edmonton and Jasper (Marmot Basin) is offered on VIA’s Snow Train during ski season. The Edmonton station is in the middle of an industrial park north of downtown (12360 121st St. NW), so you’ll have to take a cab or rent a car once you arrive. In the city, you’ll want to catch a ride on the Light Rail Transit (LRT)—Edmonton’s public commuter train system with 15 stops from Clareview station in the north to Century Park in the south.
Greyhound Canada has a number of passenger buses going in and out Edmonton from all over the country on a daily basis. The central bus depot is located right downtown (10324 - 103RD ST NW) across from the City Centre Mall and within walking distance of the Bay LRT station as well as many major hotels such as the Sutton Place Hotel. Red Arrow Motorcoach is an Alberta-based company catering to business travellers - with routes arriving in Edmonton from Calgary, Red Deer and Fort McMurray. There are four stops in the city including one downtown at the Holiday Inn Express (10010 - 104th St.)
It’s no secret that Edmonton was designed primarily for cars and trucks—a fact that is especially evident to travelers from major international cities who are used to dedicated bike lanes and extensive Metro systems. City planners have gone to great lengths in the past few years to expand the Light Rail Transit system (LRT) and new technology has made it easier for bus passengers to receive schedule information via their cell phones. That being said, if you have a lot of ground to cover and a limited amount of time in Edmonton, you may want to rent a car and spare the headache of trying to figure out connections (especially during the winter).
The public bus system in Edmonton is operated by Edmonton Public Transit (ETS). Stops are identified by blue and white signs displaying routes and stop numbers. Plan your trip ahead by visiting http://www.edmonton.ca/transportation/edmonton-transit-system-ets.aspx where you can create a detailed itinerary using the ETS Trip Planner, or have up to the minute bus information sent to your phone by texting 31100. Adult tickets cost $2.85 and are valid for trips in any direction for up to 90 minutes. A day pass is $8.55. Fares must be paid with exact cash or by purchasing tickets in advance from ETS windows or at select convenience stores.
Useful information about the LRT:
• The train system has 15 stops along the 21 km route—many of which are located underground. To access stops, look for the signs indicating street-level access
• Adult fares cost $2.85 for 90 minutes and $8.55 for a day pass. Tickets can be used to transfer in any direction on trains or ETS buses
• Books of tickets can be purchased from convenience stores and must be validated at fare machines before entering platforms. Single tickets can be purchased from machines at the station
• Cyclists can travel with their bikes, except during peak hours (Monday-Friday, 7:30AM to 9AM and 4PM to 5:30PM)
• Trains arrive every 5 minutes during peak hours during the week and every 15 minutes on evenings and Sundays
The best way to get a cab in Edmonton is to call one of the local taxi companies and tell them where you need to go.
• Edmonton Sky Shuttle (780-465-8515)
• Co-op Taxi (780- 425-2525)
• Prestige Cabs (780-462-4444)
You can always try to hail one down on the street, but if you are at a bar—especially around closing time—you’re going to have a hard time, so remember to call ahead. Most people tip a few bucks or 10 percent on the bill, although tipping is optional. If you need to get around in style, book a stretch Hummer from Blue Sky Limos (866-261-3872). Just know that even in Oil City, this may earn you a few dirty looks from passersby.
Edmonton is a fairly easy city to navigate by car if you keep a couple of things in mind. To get your bearings remember that the city is divided in half by the North Saskatchewan River—with the city centre resting on the north side and the University and Whyte Avenue (82nd Avenue) on the south side. Streets go from north to south (with numbers getting bigger as you head north), while avenues move from west to east (getting smaller as you head east). The Yellowhead Trail is a major east-west artery and will take you out to Jasper. Jasper Avenue is a main street that runs through the downtown, while 109th Street will take you across the High Level Bridge to the south side from downtown. The speed limit for most city streets is between 50 and 60 kph, except on major freeways such as Whitemud Drive and the Anthony Henday ring-road, where the speed varies between 80 to 100 kph. Rush hour starts during the weekdays at 7AM and 4PM, lasting about an hour on either end. If you are coming from a major cosmopolitan centre, you may have the urge to step on the gas. Edmonton drivers are notoriously slow.