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Edmonton wants to have conversation on distance-based fare transit model

Possible discussions are part of Edmonton’s new transit strategy

A city of Edmonton bus.

Metro File photo

A city of Edmonton bus.

Should transit users pay more for travelling longer distances? It’s a conversation city planners want to have.

Sarah Feldman, the city’s general supervisor of transportation, said Tuesday that planners working on Edmonton’s new transit strategy want to explore potentially adopting a “distance-based” fare model after the city implements a new electronic fare payment system. 

Feldman said conversations would have to happen at a regional level, as the electronic payment system would apply to suburban routes in communities like St. Albert and Strathcona County.  

Discussions over potentially changing the fare system are part of the city’s new transit strategy, a massive overhaul that proposes changes to routes and riders’ experiences.

The distance-based model is already in use in Vancouver, where the city and its surrounding bedroom communities are split into zones. The more zones you cross, the higher the fare.

Fans of the distance-based system argue users who travel further are essentially costing the system more, as buses would experience more wear-and-tear.

“If we’re looking at distances and integrating fare — crossing the boundaries from one municipality to another — there is some logic to the fare changing when you do that,” Feldman said.

“That isn’t to say we couldn’t have fare zones in Edmonton, but we’re not quite there yet. We have to keep our eyes on what’s best practice over the next few years.”

Details on when the electronic fare system roll out have yet to be outlined, though the city anticipates to make headway on the plans soon.

An update on the proposed route changes will be given in June. If council approves them, Feldman said the routes could be operational as soon as September 2018.

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