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OPINION: Regional transit is the right move


Council will soon make a decision on whether to support a regional transit system, so I’d like to voice why I think a decision to support regional transit is in the best interests of St. Albert and the region.

Very few people live, work, learn and play in the same geographical area. Creating a transit system that allows for the efficient transport of people is a complex challenge within any community. When we add the seamless integration of multiple transit systems, things really start to get messy. A regional transit system imagines a single transit pass for the Edmonton Metropolitan Area. There is an excellent business case providing evidence that an initial financial investment in regional transit would pay dividends:

• Effective transit reduces traffic congestion in urban areas. Simply building more roads isn’t the answer. Induced demand refers to the concept that increasing roadway capacity actually encourages single car transportation which in turn increases traffic congestion. Decreasing traffic congestion increases the quality of life for all St. Albert residents.

• Regional transit can reduce waste through the removal of duplicated services. Any costs associated with the creation of a Regional Transit Commission can be offset by the savings gained by reducing redundant routes and increasing efficiency.

• Economic gains can be achieved through regional transit with the more effective movement of people within our region and the ease by which people can access goods and services in St. Albert. Local businesses expand their potential employee pool due to improved regional service and effective public transit can reduce wasted productive time having people wait in congested traffic.

• Service equity is achieved by combining forces with smaller communities that do not have the critical mass required to have their own transit systems. Regional transit allows equity of service by which people from surrounding areas can more effectively travel into St. Albert and access goods and services.

Let us envision a St. Albert that continues to invest in sensible collaboration with our neighbours to the benefit of the region, and at the same time, equal benefit to all residents of our community. I hope St. Albert council votes “yes” to regional transit.

Thomas Holmes, St. Albert