With deadline looming, city council sorts out confusion over Edmonton Transit Service fares

An ETS bus drives down Whyte Avenue in Edmonton Wednesday, Oct., 5, 2016.
An ETS bus drives down Whyte Avenue in Edmonton Wednesday, Oct., 5, 2016. Vinesh Pratap, Global News

Sometimes you have to wait longer than planned for a bus. Well, on Monday, Edmonton city councillors realized they might have to wait longer for the proper legal language for new bus fares.

The fee schedule for 2020 never got voted on by city council last year when the budget was passed. That led to a bunch of confusion over the 2020 transit fares, especially increases to the seniors annual pass that council has received a ton of criticism over.

It finally got sorted out when interim city manager Adam Laughlin — in an answer to Coun. Sarah Hamilton — said the the new fares can be approved by him.

“I think the confusion here is that the bylaw was supposed to come earlier,” Laughlin said. “It didn’t make it. We recognize that. It was advertised or identified on the website as such, but we’ll correct the website and bring the bylaw for approval.”

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READ MORE: Edmonton councillors back away from transit fare plan that would see price jump for seniors

The issue was raised by Coun. Mike Nickel when it was realized the fare policy from last November didn’t mesh with changes introduced at a news conference this month to be brought into effect Feb. 1.

There were fears council would pass new fares without approving them properly.

“We were supposed to [have] that bylaw back in December with the operating budget, which administration did not provide. Of course council also missed that. So we can share all the blame,” Nickel said.

“I don’t know why it’s so hard for administration and council just to admit we made a mistake,” he told reporters. “When I make a mistake, I bring it back and I try to fix it. So I guess my walkaway is everyone can have the assurance here that they’re not going to get overcharged on a fee schedule that we haven’t passed yet.”

The seniors monthly pass is $15.50 and come February, it will increase to $34.

“Perhaps we needed a better communication piece around it because we’ve been getting a lot of blowback on that fare increase from a lot of seniors,” Nickel said.

Laughlin said the city’s website is being adjusted to reflect the new information.

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Other increases for city business unrelated to transit will be held off until council can do a final vote. Laughlin also said a fee increase for Edmonton Fire Rescue Services will take effect at the end of February.