Edmonton's new transit strategy will not include Uber

Edmonton's new transit strategy will not include partnering with Uber or other private ride-hailing operators after a tie vote at city council on Tuesday.

'Would we like private EPS officers? Would we like private firefighters? Transit is a service we provide'

City councillors voted Tuesday to take ride-sharing companies off the table as an option in its new transit strategy. (CBC)

Edmonton's new transit strategy, which will not include partnering with Uber or other private ride-hailing operators, passed after a close vote at city council on Tuesday.

Councillors split five-five over exploring the option of using the partnerships in areas referred to as "first mile/last mile," the distance between someone's home and a major, busy transit route. 

A tie vote is considered failed.

Councillors Michael Walters, Mo Banga and Ed Gibbons were absent.

Coun. Tony Caterina moved that council take the idea of a partnership off the table. 

"Would we like private EPS officers? Would we like private firefighters?" Caterina asked.
Coun. Tony Caterina introduced a motion eliminating private ride-sharing operators such as Uber as a partner in the city's transit strategy. (Lydia Neufeld/CBC)

"Transit is a service we provide ... this is essential for the well-being of our citizens and it is best handled within house."

Mayor Don Iveson was among those who voted in favour of using Uber.

"People use taxis today ... and if there's a way to make that more effective, particularly for people with mobility challenges say, it would have been good to look at that," Iveson said.

"I think it was an unfortunately ideological position," he said.

Council passed the rest of the transit strategy, which includes looking at systems such as Dial-a-Bus for low-ridership routes.

The strategy gives city staff lots to work with, Iveson said.

This first overhaul of the city's transit system in 20 years puts more focus on the city's major bus routes. That would decrease service from winding neighbourhood routes by 10 per cent. 

People in those areas would have to walk longer to a bus stop but, in theory, the buses on major routes would run more frequently. 

The transit strategy will be implemented over the next 10 years.

It is anticipated that the new transit network will be rolled out in 2020.