Transit fares are moving in the wrong direction
At a time when transit should be more accessible, Alberta's largest cities are looking at increasing fares
In 2022, more than half of Alberta’s population could be paying more to ride public transit, as Calgary and Edmonton are set to increase transit fares as ridership struggles to rebound to pre-pandemic levels.
But while Edmonton’s new council will get a chance to vote on the proposed fare increase, Calgary’s 2.8% hike is a done deal. Starting next year, a single adult ticket in Calgary will cost $3.60, an increase of 10 cents from its current cost, reports Adam MacVicar at Global News.
Low-income passes will increase anywhere from 15 cents to $2, depending on one’s income. The low-income threshold for a single person is less than $26,620, according to Calgary Transit.
Doug Morgan, the city’s general manager for transportation, called the fare hike a “difficult decision,” but said the previous council made the decision to increase fares after freezing them for 2021, noting that Calgary Transit’s long-term goal of having fares pay for upward to half of its costs.
But if the goal is to increase ridership, hiking fares, rather than taking steps towards eliminating them, is going to have the opposite effect.
Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner said at Monday’s council meeting she “would have been happy to ask for another freeze.”
“I’m very sympathetic to the challenges transit has faced through COVID [but] I think we need to ask ourselves, what kind of city do we want to be in? How do we want to incentivize transit use?” Penner said.
Last week, she tweeted that she was “very interested in exploring free transit.”
In Edmonton, the proposed fare hike is starker, with adult tickets’ price increasing by 14% to $4 from $3.50, making Edmonton Transit’s fare one of the country’s highest, Dustin Cook reports at the Edmonton Journal.
Last year, Edmonton city council voted to freeze fares at $3.50 until the city’s electronic fare payment system, Arc card, came online.
That system is still not ready to go, with pilot testing for 500 transit users slated for some time in early 2022, but the city has decided to move forward with an increase anyways, pending council’s approval.
Ward Dene Coun. Aaron Paquette told the Journal he’ll vote against a fare increase for now.
“Let’s get transit back on track first, increase comfort and ridership, then we can talk about changing fares,” he said.
While city admin estimates it would cost $1.5 million to freeze fares for another year, the Edmonton Police Service budget is slated to increase by $11.9 million.
The proposed hike was characterized as “deplorable” by Danika McConnell of Free Transit Edmonton, and rightly so.
“This is a direct harm to the most vulnerable,” she told the Journal. “Ultimately, transit development should be centred around mobility and accessibility, not generating marginal revenue for the City of Edmonton and that’s what this decision is.”
In other news …
More than 100 teachers from across the province participated in Alberta Education’s curriculum working group, which provided feedback to the government on its widely-panned curriculum update during two virtual sessions in December 2020.
These teachers were gagged under a non-disclosure agreement that expired in fall 2021.
"They gave us a pile of shit and then told us to look through the shit for corn that's digestible. To look through garbage and find something salvageable," said Annie Greeno, a teacher with Lethbridge’s Holy Spirit Catholic School Division who participated in the working group.
Nicole Sparrow, a spokesperson for Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, told the CBC that the draft curriculum released in March is “very different” from the one the teachers were shown months earlier, which leads one to wonder just how bad the original was.
The Clean Energy Improvements Program bylaw will allow up to 720 Calgary homeowners to access financing for clean energy improvements, assuming an average cost of $21,000 per project, with the loans to be repaid over 15 years.
Calgary Climate Hub co-chair Joan Lawrence said the bylaw is a “good first step.”
Ward 4 pedocop Sean Chu was the only councillor to vote against the program, but didn’t say why.
The transition could create 170,000 jobs in the clean tech sector in Alberta and add $61 billion to GDP by 2050, according to the Alberta Energy Transition study released yesterday.
To accomplish this, the province needs to invest more than $2.1 billion in clean tech annually by 2030 while increasing the commitment to $5.5 billion by 2040.
From CTV News: If Alberta doesn’t invest more than its current level — less than $1 billion annually — the study forecasts the sector will instead only generate 20,000 jobs and $4 billion in GDP by 2050.
Edited by Ximena González
The Orchard is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.