Edmonton’s public services committee passed a motion Monday that will continue public transit (bus Route 747) to the international airport until at least April.
On Monday, the committee voted to pass a motion to raise the fare from $5 to $10. The new fare would also include a transfer. An amendment was made so that ETS monthly pass holders would only pay $7.50 for a Route 747 ticket.
The motion also included Edmonton supplying a one-time investment of $125,000 until a regional service agreement could be reached.
These proposed changes would last until April. The mayor said that timeline adds some urgency to motivate regional partners to find a way to make the route sustainable long-term.
The hope is that the city, Edmonton International Airport (EIA) and other neighbouring partners (Leduc County and City of Leduc) can come up with a regional plan to keep the service going.
The motion that was approved by committee still has to be approved by council as a whole.
Route 747 started in 2012 as a pilot project. It averages 172,000 rides a year to and from the Century Park transit station in south Edmonton and EIA.
Over the last five years, the EIA has provided a total of $2.5 million in funding towards the bus route between Century Park and the airport.
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.
At that time, the mayor said it doesn’t make sense to get rid of the service. However, EIA said it’s not common for airports to pay for public transportation and encouraged a more regional approach.
“Public transit connectivity to our region’s airport is an essential service and I think we need a regional solution to provide it,” Don Iveson said at the time.
In October 2017, a committee met with representatives from the EIA, Leduc County and the City of Leduc to explore the idea of “shared investment for shared benefits.”
Together, they’re looking at working together on a model for a regional transit route linking the airport to Edmonton and also Leduc.
Sarah Feldman, an ETS planner, says ridership next May is going to likely increase by several hundred a day when the new mall opens and employees will need a way to get there.
“That’s something we’ll have to do some estimation around, get some better information in order to understand how that impacts the service,” she said. “Any time we change a route or change the frequency, the demand can change.”
Options on the table to keep the service going are being explored, including raising fares, coupled with service reductions.