by Colin Smith
Morinville could see a regular bus service to and from St. Albert and beyond by 2022. Morinville Council heard the case for an integrated public transportation system with the presentation of the final Regional Transit Services Commission report at its regular meeting Tuesday.
The report prepared by consulting firm EY supports the development of integrated transit services among the 13 municipalities of the Edmonton region, starting in 2022.
According to the report, integrating transit services would achieve an estimated $5.5 million per year in net efficiency, resulting in net realized savings of $3.4 million per year by 2026.
The cost to Morinville is expected to be $180,000 in 2022, rising to $190,000 in 2026.
Connectivity of transit systems would be improved by increasing the number of routes between municipalities, not solely to and from Edmonton, the report states. The quality of transit services would also be increased through employment of specific route types operating at higher frequencies along corridors or provide better coverage.
A conceptual transit map shows service to Morinville from the Leger Transit Centre in St. Albert, with peak-hours and all-day service proposed.
On the economic side, integrated transit services would promote the region’s connectivity and economic growth, the report states. That would be through increased access to employment opportunities, increased attractiveness for business investment, and reduced municipal and provincial infrastructure costs.
Another benefit would be a reduction in infrastructure costs through the ability to plan transit along with land-use and corridor planning.
A higher quality of life and community prosperity would be seen as people become less reliant on personal vehicle use and have more choice of where they want to live, work and play.
The original impetus for the report was a memorandum of understanding signed by the mayors of 13 municipalities in October 2018, that provided for the development of a commission that could deliver regional transit in a more integrated and efficient way.
During 2019 the Regional Transit Services Commission transition team, made up of elected officials from each municipality, worked on developing a strategy, governance and operating model, conceptual regional transit deign, financials and implementation plan. These were summarized in the final report made available in late January.
Planning calls for establishment of the Regional Transit Services Commission under the Municipal Government Act, to organize and deliver transit services throughout the Edmonton metropolitan area, beginning in 2021.
The commission would be governed by a board made up of one elected member of council from each of the 13 municipalities.
From 2022 to 2026 the commission’s operations are expected to run cost shortfalls of rising from about $56 million to almost $60 million annually, but by the end of that period that will be less than the “base case” – the total of all the annual cost shortfalls projected for the region’s transit systems if not integrated.
The report will come back to Council for consideration at its February 25 meeting.