Following the council discussions in recent weeks in the Gazette to add $1.45 million to St. Albert resident taxes to be part of Edmonton Metropolitan Transit Service Commission (EMTSC) , the correct council decision is a no brainer – NO.
If I have the facts correct:
1) Edmonton is keeping control of their services while St. Albert is all in, giving EMTSC control of our services and delivery. Edmonton, as the largest player, keeping control removes EMTSC abilities to get the hour reduction and cost savings the consultants identified from the biggest partner.
2) Multiple regional municipalities have made examined the changing EMTSC and decided not to participate.
3) St. Albert per cent of funding has increased from 18 per cent to 26 per cent and 36.9 per cent (with only 8 months identified).
If you make the identified $9.3 for 8 months a full year, the EMTSC 2023 cost to St Albert is $13.95M.
4) Ridership has not returned to pre-Covid levels which the business case was based on. Given the changes in workplace, some will stay continue to work at home. So a likely ridership short fall should be factored into cost for service – its going to cost MORE than estimated.
5) Is the additional $1.45M tax increase is for 8 more months for 2023 or is that $2.175 for 12 months?
From the facts presented, St. Albert should pay whatever is contracted when the St. Albert signed EMTSC agreement. For now, until Edmonton is all in, to opt out. Too many unknowns which likely mean more, not less, dollars in the future for St Albert to EMTSC.
Take the remaining St Albert budget for EMTSC and focus on providing improved commuter service on the three lines heavily used commuter lines. Worse case, take some of the $1.45 and use that for improved commuter service. Council, time to say no to EMTSC and no specific 2023 transit tax increase.
No need to throw another $1.45M (or larger for 12 months) into a regional transit “theory” that no longer represents the initial regional team approach.
Bob Fisher, St Albert