Advertisement

Transportation, transit the focus of Calgary council as 2020 budget talks continue

The community services committee unanimously approved a bylaw banning conversion therapy.
The community services committee unanimously approved a bylaw banning conversion therapy. Carolyn Kury de Castillo/Global News

Calgary Transit is considering contracting out more services to the private sector.

On Wednesday, during adjustments to the 2020 city budget, acting transportation general manager Doug Morgan told members of council that transit is always looking for efficiencies.

“We looked at the process we use for cleaning, fuelling and servicing buses in all of our garages,” he said.

“We looked long and hard at potential service-delivery options and think there are significant savings to looking at private-sector delivery of that particular function.”

Budget documents state transit will save nearly $3 million by contracting out the work. It’s not known how many city jobs will be lost.

Morgan said a similar move to contract outside maintenance on bus shelters and LRT platforms has provided $3 to $5 million in savings.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Calgary Transit bus operators facing layoffs due to declining ridership

Also during discussions about transit’s budget, city council was told ridership numbers are returning to 2014 levels but there are revenue challenges in part due to the deep discounts being offered on low-income transit passes.

READ MORE: City of Calgary sells 70K sliding-scale low-income transit passes in first 3 months

Several years ago, the city went to a sliding-scale low-income pass, which offers transit passes for as low as $5 a month.

The passes have been wildly successful and cost the city of Calgary more than $11 million. The province has committed just over $4 million for the program, leaving a shortfall.

READ MORE: Councillors support sliding-scale transit fares for low-income Calgarians

There is a proposal in the budget to increase the $5 monthly pass to $18.

Calgary Transit riders upset as bus rides remain packed
Calgary Transit riders upset as bus rides remain packed

Adjustments for the 2020 budget continued at Calgary City Hall Wednesday, with the focus on transportation, including Calgary transit.

Story continues below advertisement

Morgan also says the mobile ticketing pilot project has proven to be successful and Calgary Transit hopes to roll out a permanent program by the second quarter or early fall 2020.

“We want it to be airtight. We want the experience to be what they expect.

“You can imagine, we do 350,000 transactions per day, so it has to be flawless.”

When it comes to the snow-and-ice-control budget, councillors were told there is $5.7 million remaining in the budget for the calendar year and crews have been dealing with more than average snowfalls this fall.

Calgary city councillors approve $60M in budget cuts
Calgary city councillors approve $60M in budget cuts

Roads director Troy Macleod is confident that will be enough money to deal with the month of December.

READ MORE: Snowfall warning issued for Calgary and surrounding area

Story continues below advertisement

“We’ll probably close out… under $5 million with this storm. Typically, this time of year, we would spend close to $5 million a month.

“We will probably spend our entire snow-and-ice-control budget.”

After the competition of presentations from city administration, council is expected to make decisions Thursday on what it would like to cut or add to the 2020 budget.

 

There are three proposals on the table: a three per cent property tax increase, a 1.5 per cent increase and a tax freeze.

Calgary city councillors approve $60M in budget cuts
Calgary city councillors approve $60M in budget cuts