Mayor wants extensive train system for region
Expanding Edmonton’s LRT could cost nearly $5 billion, but the project should be fast-tracked as a "new, sexy" transit model for the capital region, Mayor Stephen Mandel said yesterday.
He wants to build an integrated LRT system that runs south from St. Albert to the international airport, with another line extending from the west end to Sherwood Park.
"If we’re going to have an effective transit system, we have to invest in LRT and then use each of those major stations as a hub to move people quickly," he told a luncheon crowd of Rotary Club members yesterday.
"The way to do it is not with conventional buses. It is some kind of a new sexy transit system, which LRT is."
It could take 20 years to build, he said, and the key is to find different ways of funding the multibillion-dollar project with provincial grants and regional investment.
He wouldn’t rule out exploring public-private partnerships, or P3s, which have been used to build rail systems in cities around the world, including London, England.
While Mandel is backing LRT expansion, he’s not a supporter of a bullet train between Edmonton and Calgary.
"Environmentally, it has some benefits, and I appreciate that, but at some point in time we have to prioritize what we spend money on," he said.
Residents would rather have public transit extended to the airport than pay for a new rail project to our southern neighbour, he said.