EDMONTON, AB - Edmonton’s city councillors have been invited to take the Transit Week Challenge. For 5 days from February 17th to 21st, they will exclusively use the city’s public transit system for all transportation. Four councillors have agreed to take or support the challenge: Ben Henderson, Scott McKeen, Andrew Knack and Aaron Paquette.
“The challenge ensures that councillors experience the issues that exist throughout the Edmonton Transit System (ETS),” said Laura Kruse, an organizer with the new campaign Free Transit Edmonton. “Councillors have power over transit policy including budget decisions, route servicing, and fare increases, but may not use transit themselves. There is an undeniable need to provide safe, secure, high-quality, and accessible mobility in Edmonton. Free public transit has the power to address inequality and climate change in a way that benefits all Edmontonians.”
Evidence from Edmonton’s previous fare increases demonstrates that raising fares to fund the system prices people out of using the service. The City’s own numbers show that the last time they raised fares in 2016, the city estimated that over 400,000 fewer rides would be taken and their projections show that an additional increase to $4 in 2021 from the current rate would decrease yearly rides by 280,000.
“Despite increasing costs, the service is under-funded,” Kruse added, “Councillors will be facing icy sidewalks, cold waits, traffic jams and late service. These are the realities that many Edmontonians face daily. We believe our transit system should be so reliable, convenient and accessible that there is no ‘challenge’ to a Transit Week Challenge at all.”
They will answer daily questions and a survey at the end of the week. Their feedback will be combined with other responses gathered from regular users to create a report highlighting the transit system’s weaknesses. Councillors will be invited to a town hall to discuss their experiences with our community and to celebrate the launch of the Free Transit Edmonton campaign. Through investment and public pressure, we can create a transit system that works for everyone.
The challenge is an initiative of Free Transit Edmonton, a group organizing for free and accessible transit as an equitable answer to climate change. It corresponds with the launch of a city-wide campaign to make transit free. This effort is supported by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569, Public Interest Alberta, Seniors' Action and Liaison Team, Friends of Medicare, the Alberta Public Interest Research Group, The Geography And Planning Students' Society, ERUPT, HealthyYEG, YEGarden Suites, Progress Alberta, Student Legal Services, The Self-Advocacy Federation and Climate Justice Edmonton.
Anyone is welcome to take the challenge themselves by signing up at freetransitedmonton.ca.
Transit Week Challenge is an initiative of Free Transit Edmonton. Endorsed by Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569, Climate Justice Edmonton, Friends of Medicare, the Seniors' Action & Liaison Team, Geography and Planning Students' Society, Alberta Public Interest Research Group, ERUPT, HealthyYEG, YEGarden Suites, Progress Alberta, Public Interest Alberta, The Self-Advocacy Federation, University of Alberta Students' Union and more to come!
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