Edmonton-area residents want to see amalgamated transit service: study
A new study on regional transit shows that most Edmonton-area residents favor combining different municipal transit systems.
The study, conducted by Leger for the Edmonton Metro Transit Services Commission, found that four out of five respondents believe that merging municipal transit systems into one transit system is a great or a good idea. A total of 1,219 people from commission member municipalities – including St. Albert, Fort Saskatchewan, Beaumont, Stony Plain, Spruce Grove, Devon, Edmonton and Leduc – were interviewed in September 2021.
“The results were pretty amazing,” said Wes Brodhead, St. Albert councilman and chair of the commission.
“Everyone wants really good, efficient public transit service, and they’re somewhat agnostic about what’s on the side of the bus.”
The commission is currently assembling the routes that will be offered to cyclists, and these routes are expected to be made available to municipalities and the public for review in the fall.
Brodhead said the reason this regional service is so important is that many people in society depend on public transit and therefore this service should be as good as possible.
There’s also a compelling case for creating walkable communities and focusing on environmental sustainability to help create less carbon-intensive transportation, Brodhead said.
“The reason we want to do regional transit is that by working collectively together, we can do a better job of providing that transit that meets the needs of all area residents,” said said Brodhead.
Riders will be able to travel from one municipality to another with minimal disruption, Brodhead said, and the commission aims to have one transfer system.
Working together will also help harmonize the structure of the fair, the president said, with one transparent fair system for runners.
“There won’t be systemic barriers between municipalities, so you don’t have to worry about transfers, or paying twice, or that sort of thing,” Brodhead said.
The poll also revealed that seven out of 10 respondents think public transit is valuable to their city. Before the pandemic began, residents were more likely to take public transit, and when things return to pre-pandemic normal, many believe they will use public transit as they did before.
Some nine out of 10 future users said they had someone in their home who would be likely to use an integrated transit system in the Edmonton area.
The design of the EMTSC began in 2008, when the province created the Capital Region Board (CRB) and gave the organization the mandate to create a transportation master plan for the region. At the time, several studies were made on the feasibility of regional transportation. In 2014, when some of the studies started coming back, St. Albert and Edmonton passed motions in council to work together and try to create a framework to set up a transit commission, with the goal of involving d other communities.
By then, the CRB had transformed into the Edmonton Metro Region Board (EMRB), and the organization began to prepare the business case for the board. The province donated over $3.7 million to hire Ernst & Young to report and the wheels were in motion until COVID-19 arrived and slowed the process.
Now, 15 years after its inception, Brodhead said the service will be live in 2023.