Edmontonians Left in the Lurch as Tax Burden Soars, While $100 Million Allocated for Active Transportation Network Expansion Raises Eyebrows and Electric Bus Fiasco Dominates Headlines Today
The City of Edmonton finds itself entangled in a web of financial mismanagement, with the recent revelation of a 7% property tax increase for 2024 drawing further ire from residents. The surge, now exacerbated by the electric bus fiasco at Edmonton Transit Service (ETS), sheds light on questionable decisions that have left citizens grappling with higher taxes and a transit system in disarray.
The 7% property tax increase, as reported previously, was intended to address the city’s financial woes attributed to rapid population growth, inflation, and other unfunded pressures. However, recent developments expose another layer of financial mismanagement, this time involving the ill-fated electric bus fleet introduced in 2020.
In an attempt to adopt greener solutions, the City of Edmonton invested over $100 million in procuring electric buses from U.S.-based manufacturing company Proterra. The ambitious plan aimed to enhance the quality of life for Edmontonians by introducing modern, sustainable transportation alternatives. However, the reality has been far from ideal.
News has circulated that more than half of Edmonton’s 1,000-bus fleet, part of the ill-fated electric bus initiative introduced in 2020, is facing a myriad of challenges. Mechanical issues, battery problems, and missing parts have plagued these buses, hindering their functionality. The troubles extend beyond functionality, with many drivers finding the configuration of the electric buses unsuitable, making them challenging to operate.
The city paid a hefty price of over $1 million for each electric bus, with a total order of 60 from Proterra. Despite the significant investment, more than half of these buses are currently out of service. The financial setback is compounded by Proterra’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, rendering the acquisition of new parts for repairs impossible.
Adding to the financial scrutiny, almost a year ago, the City Council approved $100 million to proceed with the active transportation network expansion as part of the 2023-2026 budget. Implementation will focus on redeveloping areas of the city, with bike routes in developing areas continuing to be carried out primarily through developer-funded construction of new neighborhoods and roadways.
Edmontonians are left grappling with the consequences of this mismanagement, as electric buses remain on modified schedules until the issues are resolved. The tax burden, now heightened by the 7% property tax increase, amplifies the discontent among residents who question the city’s financial priorities.
As Edmontonians face the harsh reality of a property tax surge and a transit system in turmoil, the need for a more judicious and transparent approach to financial decisions becomes evident. The intersection of the electric bus fiasco and the property tax increase, combined with the allocation of $100 million for the active transportation network expansion, underscores the challenges citizens endure when authorities fail to prioritize fiscal responsibility and accountability. Now, people wonder whether the 7.09 % increase is sufficient to address the city’s priorities or if another increase is on the horizon.