Thursday, July 15, 2010

Calgary Light Rail

These last few days, I've posted about the sprawling, single-family housing, and large ecological footprint that is Calgary. In a city like Calgary you'd think that light rail would be a complete write-off, but the city has the third busiest light rail system in North America after Sistema de Transporte Colectivo Metrorrey and the Toronto Transit Commission. The system is so busy that they are renovating all the stations to accept four-car articulated train sets.

Looking east on 7th Ave SW in Caglary

Looking west on 7th Ave SW

Calgary's key to successes in light rail is three fold. In downtown Calgary, they have promoted the use of light rail by having some of the highest parking rates in Canada. They have also promoted high-density development at the same time in the core. Second, the have a park and ride system at all their suburban light rail stations to promote people driving to light rail where bus service may not be convenient. Finally because they didn't waste money on needless grade separation, a downtown tunnel, or opulent stations, they were able to extend the system to the edge of the city. Every time I travel back to Calgary, the system has grown. If Calgary can have a successful, cost-effective light rail system and be the most sprawled city in Canada, just think of the success we could have in compact Metro Vancouver.

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