Thursday, May 21, 2009

Light Rail in Alberta

During the last municipal elections, the mayors of both Calgary and Edmonton ran on campaigns to expand light rail in their cities. Calgary is busy building a new West Light Rail Line and expanding their existing lines. On Tuesday, Calgary received $90 million from the feds, $90 million from the provinces, with the city paying $90 million for a total of $270 million. In addition to all the expansion going on they will now be able to:

-Upgrade their downtown light rail stations and streetscape
-Building transit priority signalling and transit lanes
-Install real-time bus and train information systems
-Install a new smartcard fare system
-Expand one of the C-Train routes to handle four-car (think new SkyTrain cars x4) trains

Meanwhile in Edmonton, in a similar 1/3 funding agreement, the city has $300 million to expand their light rail system. Also, they are now thinking about going more Portland-style with their planned West Edmonton Light Rail.
The advantages of a low-floor system may include lower infrastructure and development costs, since they require no more than the slight raise of a sidewalk for platforms, and perhaps more stops in the downtown and university areas.
With all this light rail expansion going on and all this federal money, you’d think there would be more light rail in BC, but we have SkyTrain that is only used in North America for people movers and airport shuttles. Did you know that a full 1/3 of all SkyTrain track miles are in Metro Vancouver?

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