News / Calgary

Green Line operational costs will take 'significant' cash: Nenshi

Although fully funded, the Green Line will take millions to operate annually

Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

Helen Pike / Metro

Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

Green Line funding may be a go, but Mayor Naheed Nenshi says council now needs to find "significant" money to operate the train before 2026.

To run the mammoth project, administration calculated it would take about $40 million in annual funding, which in the current budget would make up 15 per cent of Calgary Transit's operational costs.

Nenshi said the city's investing in transit service to places in Calgary that don't currently have good service, or they have no service at all, which means the city will have to come up with new cash to pad the line – especially in the southeast.

"When we built the West LRT, it actually had very little impact on our operating budget because we replaced buses that were more expensive on a per-rider basis," said Nenshi. "The BRTs, we'll be able to absorb, it's not a problem ... council is going to have to find significant money between now and 2026 to operate the Green Line."

Coun. Shane Keating believes after shifting resources around, the city shouldn't be on the hook for the full $40 million annually, and there's still time to find cash in the eight years it will take before the project is ready for passengers.

"I would assume by then we would be able to identify a source for the operational increase," Keating said. "In my view, if we apply savings and (get farebox revenues) we're really only looking at $20 million."

Keating said it's not like the city's going to be faced with a $40 million, or $20 million per year bill by tomorrow.

Nenshi said currently, the farebox recuperation to property tax ratio isn't meeting the council-mandated 50/50 split – and the question of how to offer transit service riders want to use at a fair price is something he loses sleep over.

"We really need to attract people to ride, we've got to make judicious investments to get people online," Nenshi said. "But certainly, some of the investments we're making are going to be expensive."

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