8 Edmonton-area municipalities form combined transit commission

·2 min read

Eight municipalities in the Edmonton area were officially brought together under one regional transit umbrella on Thursday.

The province announced they'd formally approved the new Edmonton Metropolitan Transit Services Commission. This commission will fully integrate Edmonton buses and LRT with the transit systems in Beaumont, Fort Saskatchewan, Leduc, Spruce Grove, St. Albert, Devon and Stony Plain.

The goal is for people in each community to be able to travel seamlessly between the municipalities without worrying about different bus passes or fares.

"The intent is to provide that service that links communities and employment nodes and places where life occurs in our community," said St. Albert Coun. Wes Brodhead, interim board chair of the commission. "It's a quality of life issue for many in our community."

Ric McIver, Alberta's minister of transportation, said the commission's goal is to provide cost savings, eliminate duplication of services and improve transit options in the area.

The regional plan has been in the works for about 10 years. Now, the commission expects to roll out regional transit services in mid-to-late 2022 after a public consultation and planning process.

The participating municipalities hope a more connected transit system will accelerate economic recovery in the area after the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The need to stretch every tax dollar to its limit, to provide some measure of relief to our citizens cannot and will not be ignored," Brodhead said.

In the coming months, the commission will prepare for its first official board meeting, begin the process to recruit a CEO, and begin formalizing a business structure and strategy.

Originally, 13 municipalities were included in a feasibility report by the Regional Transit Services Commission.

Municipalities included in that group such as Strathcona County, the Town of Morinville, Parkland County and Sturgeon County, are not currently a part of the new commission.