City considers raising fare, reducing service on airport bus

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City considers raising fare, reducing service on airport bus

It could soon get more expensive to take transit to the Edmonton International Airport.

A report going to city council's community and public services committee next week raises the possibility of hiking fares and reducing service on Edmonton Transit route 747.

The route has operated from Century Park to the airport since April 2012, and was subsidized to the tune of $500,000 annually by the Edmonton Regional Airports Authority. That subsidy expired on April 30, 2017.

ETS has continued to offer the same service while the city looked for ways to increase revenue to pay for it.

Fares only pay for part of the service

The report said it will cost about $1.9 million to operate the service in 2018.

Fare revenues are expected to bring in only about $700,000, leaving a $1.2-million shortfall the city would have to cover.

The report said the city could look at increasing fares to ride route 747. Cash fares could go from $5 to $7.50, while a monthly pass could increase from $100 to $120.

The report said fare increases are usually followed by a decline in ridership, and predicted that ridership could fall by up to 11 per cent.

The increased fare, even with fewer people on the buses, would bring in an additional $160,000 each year, the report said.

The report noted that said fares for route 747 are significantly lower than those at other major airports serviced by public transit.

Fewer buses also a possibility

City council could also consider saving money by reducing the frequency of buses on route 747.

The service runs about 20 hours a day, starting from Century Park at 4:10 a.m. and ending at the airport at 12:18 a.m.

The report said service could be cut back to once an hour, even during peak hours, with the last bus running at 10 p.m.

Adam Plotnikov, who rides route 747 about twice a week, said he doesn't want to see service reduced.

"I don't want to pay more, but if it's a matter of having the service or, say, cutting the service, I'd rather pay more."

Plocnikoz said even if fares go up, the bus would still be the most economical way to get to the airport.

"It costs double the amount of money to take a shuttle, and obviously a lot more money to take a cab," he said.  "So it may not be that bad a thing to raise the rates to keep the service."

The city committee will debate the report at its meeting on Monday.