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6 more communities to get low-income transit pass with $1.7M expansion

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The Alberta government is spending $1.7 million to subsidize low-income transit passes in six more communities outside Edmonton and Calgary. 

The government will fully cover the cost of implementing a low-income pass in Camrose, Hinton, Leduc, Lethbridge, Red Deer and Spruce Grove, plus 10 per cent of the municipalities' administration costs. 

While speaking on Tuesday at the University of Alberta Augustana Campus, the province's seniors, community and social services minister called keeping transportation affordable critical. 

Pointing to post-secondary students, seniors and other Albertans on a fixed income struggling more with inflated prices, Jason Nixon said, "Anything like this where you can eliminate a monthly expense – that can be very significant, being the cost of transportation – I think helps long term."

Camrose Mayor PJ Stasko said the city 90 kilometres south of Edmonton has been providing transit options for eight years and is excited about the provincial government's contribution. 

He also hopes to see provincial support for more regional transit. Camrose previously piloted a route to Edmonton called the Camrose Connector, but funding for the project ended after two years. 

"We look forward to working with our neighbours and the province in the future on potentially facilitating a regional transit system," Stasko said Tuesday.

Nixon said Alberta's transportation minister would soon be talking to municipalities about their intercity transit needs. 

"I'm excited to see what comes from it," Nixon commented. "And I can assure you the premier has heard that need. We'll see what happens after consultation, what will be the permanent solution to that. But clearly we need to address it."

In late 2022, Edmonton abandoned a plan for a regional transit system with about 10 other capital-region partners, with some councillors expressing concerns about cost and inefficiency. Camrose was not a part of the project. 

Already, the government has helped provide low-income passes in the province's two largest cities, plus 10 other municipalities. 

In Edmonton, transit passes are provided at two lower prices depending on household income.

Correction

A previous version of this story reported Mayor Stasko was referring to a capital region transit plan involving a dozen municipalities. In fact, he was referring to the Camrose Connector pilot project. 

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