12 09 2008

There’s a lot of debate about expansion of light rail transit here in Edmonton. A lot of money is being invested (or it’s being considered, anyway). And the mayor wants to make sure LRT goes where the people are (or where the potential for the most redevelopment is, anyway). The Transportation Department seems to be focused on putting LRT where it will offer the fastest commute times for people out in the far suburbs to downtown. This, unfortunately, is not the same place as where the people are.

So the mayor sent them back. He wants to see the feasibility of his idea. Costs, benefits, etc.

I’m with the mayor. But, I worry that if you try to put a big, fast, wide suburban-style LRT through areas with narrow roads, you’re going to end up having to destroy big chunks of those areas in order to offer them the service.

I don’t see why we can’t think a little more creatively and choose a technology that suits the context. European tram service works pretty well, offers higher capacity service than buses, can offer relatively fast service if you provide it with its own (narrow) right of way. And it’s low-impact. It can run on existing roads. It doesn’t require the demolition of blocks and blocks of housing and businesses.

I prefer not to think that there is only one solution and that it will be rammed through regardless of the cost (by which I don’t just mean dollars and cents).




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