EDMONTON - On Monday, April 12, Edmonton's Executive Council will meet to discuss the Edmonton Transit Service and a planned increase for transit cash fares from $3.50 to $3.75. In advance of the meeting, representatives from the grassroots campaign Free Transit Edmonton over 1300 signatures from Edmontonians demanding that council freeze the fares.
Paige Gorsak from Free Transit Edmonton illustrated how a fare increase is an added way working people are being left behind in Edmonton.
“Asour city’s wealthiest continue to get ahead through tax breaks and grants, working people continue to be left behind by decisions that affect them negatively,” said Gorsak. “Freezing transit fares is an essential first step in addressing inequality in our city, especially in the midst of a pandemic and economic recession.”
“We need a city council who works tirelessly to better the lives of working people, not make it harder,” said Greg Mady, President of Edmonton & District Labour Council. “Stop hurting those who make your life comfortable and start representing the people who put you here to make the right decisions.”
Gorsak stressed that a further fare increase will harm essential workers and low income families.
“A fare increase during a global pandemic will punish those who rely on our public transit system to get to their jobs at hospitals, grocery stores, and other essential services upon which we all depend,” said Gorsak. “City Council must vote to freeze fares and keep transit affordable for the people who need it most.”
Free Transit Edmonton organizer Cole Rockarts explained how the fare increase also impacts vulnerable Edmontonians.
“Transit fare increases disproportionately affect those working low-wage jobs, QTBIPOC people, migrant workers, and people with disabilities,” said Rockarts. “These groups have already been forced to bear the brunt of the pandemic.”
“City Administration will say a fare increase is the only way to offset low ridership during the pandemic,” said Rockarts. “But raising fares will only decrease ridership while failing to solve the problem.”
Gorsak reiterated the dire need for Council to act in the best interests of Edmontonians and adapt to the rapidly changing situation.
“While City Council had previously approved this increase, it simply doesn’t make sense to institute it now during the third wave of a deadly pandemic,” said Gorsak. “This is an unprecedented situation and people are suffering. Freezing fares is the least council could do. We need our public transit to be funded like the essential public service that it is – not for working people to subsidize it.”