EDMONTON -- The province has approved the formation of an official commission to work towards building a regional transit system in the capital region.

The Edmonton Metropolitan Transit Services Commission aims to roll-out an integrated system by 2022, improving transit options, eliminating duplicate services and creating cost savings for all eight partner municipalities.

Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver praised the interim committee for its work to reach this milestone.

"This is a good news day for residents," McIver said. "A regional public transportation system is well suited to operate in the capital region area, and who better than municipally elected people to know what's actually needed for their citizens?"

The commission will work to build an integrated transit network, improving mobility and attracting people and investment to the region.

St. Albert councillor and commission board chair Wes Brodhead acknowledged the added pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic and said that the municipalities can do a lot by working together.

"The need to stretch every tax dollar to its limit, to provide some measure of relief to our citizens cannot and will not be ignored," Brodhead said. "Regionally provided transit services is a working example of a mechanism to achieve this end."

Edmonton, St. Albert, Fort Saskatchewan, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Devon, Leduc and Beaumont are currently members. The board will recruit a CEO to lead the commission.

The transit workers' union has concerns about moving to a regional system and says it is being left out of the process.

“Our objective is to protect our jobs and join with the Commission to build a better transit system for the entire Region,” Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569 president Steve Bradshaw said in a written release. “No one’s talking about the ongoing liabilities to the partner municipalities or the loss of local control of their transit systems. There’s less accountability and another level of bureaucracy.”

More details to come…