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Edmonton Could Suspend Transit Service for the Summer

As the city of Edmonton waits to hear about funding prospects, Mayor Don Iveson deliberates parking buses over the summer to make up for revenue loss.
May 24, 2020, 7am PDT | Lee Flannery
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Public Transit
Robert Szymanski

Public transit in Edmonton is a precarious situation. According to Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, the city simply does not have the revenue required to keep the buses and light rail transit services running as usual. With ridership falling between 70% and 80%, Iveson "said the city has to look at all options to save money in the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic," reports Natasha Riebe. Since the onset of the pandemic, Edmonton has taken a hit of about $10 million a month in transit revenue alone. 

One option on the table: canceling service for the summer to ensure the budget to run public transit during winter months when weather conditions worsen. Iveson, among other transit advocates, would prefer to increase service, arguing that parking buses would have devastating consequences for the city and people of Edmonton. 

Transit services have been free since mid-March in part to prevent the spread of the virus through paper tickets. The city is considering an electronic fare payment system as a safer alternative. 

For now, Iverson is waiting on a response from the provincial government after the Federation of Canadian Municipalities requested a collective $10 billion in funding through September, about a quarter of which would be used to recoup losses related to transit revenue.

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Published on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 in CBC
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