The Edmonton Metropolitan Region is one big step closer towards the establishment of a single new regional transit authority.
After years of planning between various municipal governments, the Government of Alberta has approved the formation of a new regional services commission for public transit.
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There are currently eight participating cities, including Edmonton, Beaumont, Devon, Fort Saskatchewan, Leduc, Spruce Grove, St. Albert, and Stony Plain. Several other municipalities considered joining the regional system, but they ultimately decided against the direction.
This new entity will allow public transit in the Edmonton region to tap into economies of scale and remove redundancies, which will reduce operating and capital costs, and allow for better services through integration.
Initially, the existing public transit agencies will be contracted to conduct services, and the new regional agency will be responsible for long-term operational and capital project planning. Over time, the intention is to have the legacy operating entities merged into a single new regional unit.
There will be a focus on regional planning, and municipalities will see their funding go further as regional routes will be shared by multiple communities.
A new management team will be established for the new agency, including the hiring of a CEO.
“This first-of-its-kind commission will go a long way to connecting the people and economies of the Edmonton region with safer and more efficient public transit,” said Ric McIver, the interim minister of municipal affairs for Alberta.
“This is a great example of municipalities taking the lead to solve local transit issues. By empowering local decision-making, Alberta’s government is cutting red tape and saving taxpayer dollars.”
Edmonton and its surrounding municipalities will join other major metropolitan areas that also have a regional transit system. A more integrated transit system across the region could also accelerate the ridership recovery after COVID-19.
The target date for the transition to the regional authority is mid to late 2022.