EDMONTON – The Edmonton Transit System (ETS) cash fare will increase from $3 to $3.20 on Friday, Feb. 1, as part of a number of fare increases going into effect that day.
Packs of 10 tickets will increase from $22.80 to $24 for adults and from $19.95 to $21 for youth and seniors. An adult monthly pass will rise from $84.65 to $89, as will the monthly DATS pass. The all-day pass will increase to $9, and the post-secondary pass will rise from 76.95 to $81.
The Senior Citizen Monthly Pass will increase from $13.50 to $14. On April 1, the Senior Citizen Annual Pass will increase to $125, while the Low Income Senior Annual Pass will go to $54.
In September, the youth monthly pass will increase to $69.
“I am concerned,” says city councillor Amarjeet Sohi. He’s seen the fares increase steadily over the years, and is worried it will be difficult for low and modest income families and residents.
“50 per cent of the ridership is earning less than $50,000 as a family income, and those are the ones who can least afford to pay more, and they’ll be the hardest hit.”
“We’ve had continuous increases to the transit fare system in every category,” he adds. “I think we are reaching the point where it is becoming more and more unaffordable and we need to be very careful of that. Public transit is such an essential service.”
“The goal of the transit system is to create a community that is environmentally sustainable, but also give the ability to people to move from A to B; get to work, go to university, go to college, go to school or attend community events,” explains Sohi.
“That is the purpose of public transit, so if we are making it more and more unaffordable so that people can’t use it, then we defeat the purpose.”
Edmonton transit passengers who spoke to Global News said they wouldn’t mind paying a bit more if the level of service increased along with the fare.
“The service itself hasn’t changed, so I don’t see why it’d be going up,” says Zachary Macgregor, a student.
“I wouldn’t mind the fare jumps if some of these bus drivers were a little more polite, if their scheduling was a little more intelligent,” adds Dennis Merkosky, who takes public transit regularly.
Allan Frazer buys a senior’s pass every month. The increase won’t impact him significantly, but he thinks $89 a month is a hefty price for the quality of service.
“The transportation we have in this city is not all that great. You can never connect with a bus, so why should you be paying that amount of money for poor bus service?”
Frazer says he’s often waiting for buses that are delayed.
“In the wintertime, waiting for a bus – in particular number 9 going from Northgate to Southgate – you could freeze to death, or in the summer, you could die of old age,” he says.
ETS explains the new fares were set as part of the 2013 City budget process.
“If we’re going to ask people to pay more, then we need to improve service,”
stresses Sohi. “Unfortunately, in this budget, we were not able to add additional service and we were not able to deal with overcrowding on the buses.”
The fare increases scheduled for 2013 apply to all February 2013 fare products, regardless of the date of purchase. Unexpired ETS tickets will be honoured regardless of their purchase date.
Also on February 1, people using the ETS bus to the Edmonton International Airport on Route 747 will be able to use two ETS Adult tickets for a one-way fare as an alternative to the current $5 cash charge.
For details visit the City of Edmonton’s Fares and Passes webpage.
With files from Kendra Slugoski