Lovin' The LRT

LRT expansion voted the best use of taxpayer’s dollars in our annual Edmonton survey
Meryl Smith Lawton

Edmonton’s public transit system might be far from perfect, but things are looking up. The city is putting a great deal of money and planning into LRT expansions, with plans to create six new LRT lines that extend into the northwest, northeast, east, south, southeast, and west ends of the city.

Edmontonians are behind the expansion, if our annual readers survey is anything to go by. LRT expansion was named the Best Use of Taxpayer’s Money in this year’s SEE Magazine Best of Edmonton contest.

“Boys love trains,” says Brendan Van Alstine, a member of Transit Riders’ Union of Edmonton (TRUE), when asked why LRT expansion is the best use of taxpayer’s money. “There’s this interesting psychological effect that happens when you build a train as opposed to running a bus, where people just for some reason find trains to be more appealing.”

Wayne Mandryk, the city’s manager of transportation projects is particularly excited about the LRT’s south expansions, which by April 2010 will extend down to Century Park.

In late-April, two new stations at McKernan/Belgravia and the university’s South Campus opened and over 3,000 people came to see the new stations on its opening day.

Mandryk believes this was a sign that the residents of Edmonton want the LRT to move into residential neighborhoods so that there is better access to the trains.

“I think Edmontonians are now adopting a different view of having LRT in their area,” he says, “and I think what you’ll see is a lot of people that are anxious to see it coming into their areas.”

After the south extension, in 2011, the city will open a station in Gorman, north of the Clareview station (which has been the LRT’s northern terminus since it opened in 1981).

There are also plans to extend the LRT to MacEwan’s downtown campus and NAIT. This means the LRT will be linked to all of Edmonton’s three major post-secondary institutions. The city plans to complete this project by 2014.



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