Friday, May 2, 2008

Ottawa's not alone in transit planning dilemmas

Although Ottawa's had our share of problems and setbacks while looking into implementing a light rail system, we're not alone. The City of Edmonton began their light rail system in 1978 for the Commonwealth Games, and has been having trouble since then working on it getting more done, as Kerry Diotte's column in the Edmonton Sun explained.

It's time to get a grip on a serious and realistic overall plan for Light Rail Transit (LRT) in Edmonton.

Mayor Stephen Mandel this week blasted a city administration scheme that would see a new LRT line run along 87 Avenue and across the North Saskatchewan River to near the University of Alberta campus.


Truth be told, Edmonton was the smallest city in North America to build a mass transit light rail system and we are still at or near the bottom of the barrel when it comes to ridership.

Our existing 12.9 km north-south line carries only about 42,000 passengers daily.
When our southern LRT route to 23 Avenue opens in 2010 we'll have spent about $1 billion on the system, the same amount Calgary put out for its C-Train that features 42 km of lines in three directions serving 248,000 riders daily.

Given the current state of high oil prices, though, it's a no-brainer to fast-track mass transit. But citizens are right to wonder if anyone at City Hall is looking at the big picture and truly figuring out the best routes for LRT. Is there an overall vision?

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