Edmonton city council kicks free transit idea to curb

There won’t be free rides on Edmonton buses and LRT. The idea was a short-lived notion after a debate at city hall Wednesday morning.

Councillor Aaron Paquette floated the idea last week as part of a larger bid to get more people to take public transit.

After gaining attention on social media, Paquette tweaked the wording of his original motion Wednesday, with less of a focus on fares.

He asked for city administration to do a comprehensive study of the city’s entire transit system.

“Let’s understand the system as fully and completely as possible before we start making decisions that impact decades of Edmontonians into the future.”

His revised motion called for “identifying strategies” to improve ridership and value for service. 

Coun. Aaron Paquette, right, advocates for a comprehensive look at the benefits and potential cost savings of public transit. (CBC)

It also called for improving safety and evaluating the economic and environmental benefits of transit.

Mayor Don Iveson said the city is improving the transit system, with projects involving the bus network “which I think we all agree needs a fundamental redesign.”

The city is redesigning its bus network with the new routes slated to launch in 2020.

The city is also working on a Transportation Master Plan and investing in more LRT. 

Iveson also noted the need to modernize fare collection.

“People complain you can’t conveniently pay with contactless technology or even a credit card or debit card,” he said. “All of which we are fixing and some of this we have been fixing, since I’ve been here.”

But improved technology doesn’t mean zero fares, Iveson said.

“Around the fare policy, I have no interest in going down that road.”

Paquette reiterated that the intent of his motion was to spur conversation.

“Maybe it doesn’t make sense to go to zero fare, maybe that is not in the cards,” he said. “But maybe it does.”

Council agreed that Paquette can make another motion at the next council meeting in two weeks.


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Sherwood Park

Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area.[7] It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary,[8] generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road).[9] Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.[9]

Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016,[6] Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.


Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.

The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton.[8] The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.

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