Regional transit for Edmonton and nearby communities one step closer to reality

Click to play video 'City council pushes for regional transit system for greater Edmonton area' City council pushes for regional transit system for greater Edmonton area
WATCH: It's an idea that could potentially save a lot of public money, and get more people taking transit. The idea would create one pass that would let riders use transit anywhere in greater Edmonton and beyond — far as Morinville or Devon. As Vinesh Pratap explains, the concept is only a few votes away – Jan 22, 2020

A final report was released Wednesday, spelling out the case for regional transit to serve Edmonton and 12 of its neighbouring communities.

“The status quo will not meet the needs of residents,” explained Michael Walters, an Edmonton city councillor and vice-chair of the Regional Transit Services Commission (RTSC) transition team.

Work started in 2017, with Edmonton and St. Albert kicking off talks.

A year later, 11 other surrounding communities joined the discussion.

READ MORE: Edmonton’s neighbours ready to sign on to create regional transit commission

The communities include Beaumont, Devon, Fort Saskatchewan, Leduc, Leduc County, Morinville, Parkland County, Spruce Grove, Strathcona County, Stony Plain and Sturgeon County.

“There are systemic barriers to travel from one community to another,” said St. Albert councillor Wes Brodhead, chair of the RTSC transition team.

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According to the report, the commission would be funded by each participating member, with cost-sharing based on population.

As for governance, the commission would be overseen by “elected officials from member communities.”

The board of directors would be comprised of one councillor from each municipality.

READ MORE: St. Albert flirts with developing regional transit with Edmonton

A new business case suggests annual savings of $3.4 million can be found by 2026, if the commission gets the green light. That could happen as a result of cutting down on bureaucracy and eliminating overlapping routes.

“Having nine different transit systems in one region is not the most effective and efficient way to deliver a service,” Walters said.

Starting in February and through March, each of the 13 communities will vote on whether to join the commission. But some questions are being raised.

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Spruce Grove councillor Erin Stevenson has tweeted about “concerns that still need to be addressed. We haven’t determined if options B & C exist.”

“The reality is, though, that all 13 were around the table,” Brodhead said. “All 13 contributed to this report, all 13 own this report.”

If approved by all participating municipalities, a gradual implementation of regional transit could start sometime in 2022.