Edmonton’s transit cash fare will hit $4 in February after the proposed 2022 budget currently in front of city council recommends an increase for most transit fare options, including monthly passes and tickets.
The cash fare will jump, rising to $4 from $3.50. The fare for an Edmonton transit trip was previously set to remain at $3.50 until at least February when the previous city council decided against implementing the budgeted increase to $3.75.
This was done in an effort to wait until the Arc Card smart fare system came online, which is set to include daily and monthly fare caps as well as a discounted single-trip fee of $3 as an incentive to use the new electronic system.
This increase makes Edmonton’s cash fare among the most costly in Canada, alongside the transit systems of Brampton, Gatineau and Mississauga.
Many have been critical of the increase. Councilor Aaron Paquette said in an interview with Postmedia that "he can’t justify a fare increase right now as residents continue to recover from a global pandemic and ridership is just beginning to inch closer to pre-pandemic levels."
“We cannot ask residents to pay more for a service that clearly hasn’t improved,” he said. “Let’s get transit back on track first, increase comfort and ridership, then we can talk about changing fares.”
Free Transit Edmonton organizer Danika McConnell called the planned increase “deplorable,” noting it harmed accessibility.
“This will cause harm to ridership, this will cause harm to accessing essential services. This is a direct harm to the most vulnerable,” she said. “Ultimately, transit development should be centred around mobility and accessibility, not generating marginal revenue for the City of Edmonton and that’s what this decision is.”
Former city councilor Jon Dziadyk also weighed in on Facebook, stating that "ETS raising the cash fare to $4 is the wrong move. The price point is too high for the service offered. When was the last time you saw a full bus? I haven't seen one in years. I hope I am wrong, but I believe that this price increase will be a deathblow to the service as many people will now opt to drive. We should actually drop the fare and add service so that transit can be a serious option, and you'll actually find that revenues go up."