Tuesday, June 2, 2015

If at-grade light rail does the job for Calgary, it will for Surrey too

In late April, I posted about a “leaked” memo from the Township of Langley’s Transportation Engineering department. The memo writer expressed some concerns about light rail in the South of Fraser. The short of it is that there is a belief that light rail would not meet performance targets because it is not built up in the sky, or buried underground.

While not explicitly in the Township’s Transportation Engineering memo, I know some have expressed concerns about the safety of light rail. Because light rail will run parallel to Fraser Highway, some believe it will create unsafe intersections and slow down cars.

This week I’m in Calgary. Calgary Transit has been operating light rail for the past 34 years. Calgary’s system has the highest light rail ridership in Canada and the US. The Calgary light rail network runs in grade separated right-of-ways and at-grade. The busiest section of Calgary’s light rail network runs at-grade with surface crossings.

Calgary light rail system provides consistent travel times. In Downtown Calgary, signals are timed to allow the smooth flow for light rail riders, cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists. Along 36 St NE, light rail traffic is prioritized at intersections.

Yes, there are occasional collisions between light rail vehicles and autos, but they are so few and far between, it is front page news when it happens.

As the saying goes, a picture is worth 1,000 words. I snapped some pictures of Calgary's CTrain network around Downtown Calgary, and in the inner neighbourhood of Kensington, to show how light rail interacts at various at-grade intersections. I also snapped a picture showing how light rail stations can blend into the context of any sized neighbourhood.

CTrain about to cross 5 Ave SW in Downtown Calgary. Track Parallels 9 St SW. Note crossing barrier.

7 Ave SW and 2 St SW Intersection in Downtown Calgary.

CTrain and Calgary Transit Bus Sharing the Road.

CTrain Crossing 2 St SW in Downtown Calgary.
CTrain Crossing Sign at 8th St SW in Downtown Calgary.

CTrain Tracks Parallel to 9 St SW in Downtown Calgary.

CTrain Crossing 2 Ave NW in Kensington. Tracks parallel 9a St NW.

Sunnyside CTrain Station in Kensington. Station integrates into the community.

CTrain Tracks at Brentwood Station. Crowchild Trail and new Transit Oriented Development.

If light rail has works for over 30-years in Calgary, with the busiest sections of the Calgary light rail network at-grade, it will certainly work in the South of Fraser.


Dave Hall said...

Welcome to the Light Rail converts club! And it does not hinge on a "yes" vote either. Surrey will plow ahead regardless on their own because there always has been a plan "B' despite the bleetings of many. Now the challenge for Langley is to deliver something beyond a final stop at Willowbrook which Surrey will now establish.

B.Dawe said...

Calgary works because it has segregated, high speed rights of way in the places people are trying to get through and only runs comparatively slow, shared-grade services in the core, where people are going anyway

Thanks to the much more highly distributed employment patters in our region, Surrey is much more like the the places Calgarians are trying to go through then the places that they are trying to get to.

It's not that it *wont'* work. It's just that it will be a highly expensive way of making something that only 'works'

Nathan Pachal said...

The NW line up to Univeristy and the NE line to Whitehorn are very similar to what would be built in Surrey. The LRT would be running on the side of Fraser Highway in its own ROW.

Unknown said...

The NW line up to University runs in a segregated, off-street right of way and beyond that it is in the median of a freeway. The NE line runs in the median in a manner that is not similar to an urban tram system. It is given heavy segregation, including an underpass between Memorial and 36 St. I don't understand how you come to the conclusion that this is "very similar", these examples are very different from the system being proposed in Surrey.

As planned, the LRT on Fraser Highway will be running in the centre median. A side-running right of way (or some sort of other wide, Calgary-like shoehorned median right-of-way) was not planned, and it would cost an untold hundreds of millions of dollars in land acquisition costs, pushing the costs into SkyTrain extension territory.

Unknown said...

LRT in Calgary is a disaster. Just have a look at the facts:
LRT accidents causing death and destruction of property
See what's happening in Calgary.
1.Pedestrian killed by CTrain was 43rd accidental death on LRT system

2. Man struck and killed by CTrain in northeast Calgary | CTV Calgary ...

3. Man found dead near CTrain tracks in city's south | CTV Calgary News

Vancouver has Skytrain so safe that I am not aware of any death happening because of collisions and crashes.
LRT has killed people in Calgary, Edmonton, Seattle, Portland, and Houston. People in Surrey hate LRT, but the mayor is pushing it.

WrapUp BD said...

The NW line up to University and the NE line to Whitehorn are very similar to what would be built in Surrey. The LRT would be running on the side of Fraser Highway in its own ROW.