Over the last five years, the Edmonton International Airport has provided a total of $2.5 million in funding towards the bus route between Century Park and the airport.
Route 747 started in 2012 as a pilot project. The EIA put in $500,000 a year for three years and then matched that annual amount for the next two years. However, that financial support for the airport shuttle service ended in April.
“We’ll need a life-line solution for the 747,” Mayor Don Iveson said.
“I don’t think it makes sense to eliminate the service. I think we may have some tough decisions to make about fares or scheduling, which could hurt the service. I think we need to be mindful of those things.”
The EIA says it’s not common for airports to pay for public transportation.
“If we need to be looking at it in a more regional model, as we have with other things, then we would be very optimistic that there can be a solution because we have seen those solutions elsewhere,” EIA spokesperson Traci Bednard said.
The city is looking at collaborative options with regional neighbours.
“Public transit connectivity to our region’s airport is an essential service and I think we need a regional solution to provide it,” Iveson said.
“It’s actually literally a case in point of where we need to collaborate more effectively and leverage our resources to stronger effect.”
The EIA also hopes the service will continue operating.
“We’ve seen a lot of progress in terms of regional planning and projects at the airport and certainly would expect to see continued success applied into this transit route as well,” Bednard said.
City council will debate a few options next week, including service reductions like getting rid of weekend service or fare increases.
Currently, a one-way fare is $5 but that could jump to $7.50 or even $12 per trip.
“In the short term, the expiration of the airport’s funding does represent a challenge to the cost effectiveness frankly for Edmonton taxpayers of delivering that route,” Iveson said.