I have good and bad news for LRT riders today. Scratch that: I have great news for Edmontonians who love LRT and bad news for those who love parking at stations.
The great news is obvious if you’re reading this on a train between South Campus and Health Sciences. With 15,000 new daily rides predicted, quite a few people are doing just that.
Either way, there’s plenty to celebrate. For one, Edmonton hasn’t opened this much new LRT track since the 1981 extension to Clareview.
Peak service is up along the whole line. Twenty new weekday round trips means a train every five minutes instead of six, and over a longer period, too — finally some relief for crowded trains.
A pleasant surprise is seeing information screens on platforms. With luck, this will soon mean knowing exactly when trains are coming.
One thing you won’t find on the south LRT is parking. Two months ago, I wrote that at $50,000 per stall, I wouldn’t have built any either.
I also suggested charging a fee at the overflowing lots in the northeast, which brings me to the bad news for park-and-riders: Someone at the city was reading.
In my defence, I proposed a dollar per day, not three. While I think copying blindly is a terrible idea, the latter is what is currently being implemented in Calgary.
Drivers protested, but with more than half the lots still free and significantly more spots available per rider, Calgary’s pay lots are nearly full again.
This is, of course, the idea: Charge just enough to keep the lots full while still promoting carpooling, taking the bus, walking, and biking.
Get it right and there’s no more fighting for spots, ridership goes up, and there’s even money for transit.
Get it wrong and people just keep driving.