No free transit for Edmontonians on election day

Transit rider Dietrich Neu purchases a ticket at South Campus LRT station.
Transit rider Dietrich Neu purchases a ticket at South Campus LRT station. Global News

Edmontonians will not have free transit on federal election day.

On Tuesday, city council voted 10 to three against allowing residents to ride fare-free on Oct. 21. Councillors had heard that the one-day initiative would have cost the city $146,000 in lost transit revenue.

However, the city will work with seniors, social and cultural organizations to distribute tickets for use only on election day.

READ MORE: Edmonton councillor wants free transit on election day

During the debate, Councillor Michael Walters said there was no evidence free transit would increase participation in the election while Councillor Bev Esslinger said political campaigns often pick people up to help get the vote out.

The motion had originally been brought forward by Councillor Aaron Paquette, who argued casting a ballot in an election is the only time when every voice is equal.

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Paquette said the lost transit revenue was not a lot of money in the grand scheme of things and said there was little evidence it would increase voting because it hadn’t been studied before.

“I felt this was an important motion and could have been a great opportunity to encourage Edmontonians to vote, and use our transit system,” Paquette said in a statement after the vote.

“Edmontonians are paying for a world-class transit system but we don’t have a world-class system. One of the solutions is increasing ridership. Encouraging folks to get out on election day could have done just that.”