LRT expansion planning is a driverless train
When the city released its preliminary alignments for LRT to MillWoods, I imagined happily riding the train north. But just before theriver valley, with one last road to cross, the warning bells started.
When the city released its preliminary alignments for LRT to Mill Woods, I imagined happily riding the train north. But just before the river valley, with one last road to cross, the warning bells started.
Did the city ever figure out where the train was headed after downtown? Does the driver know to stop before we slam into the dead end? Is anyone even driving this train!?
Far-fetched, of course, but the city's tendency to plan future LRT legs in isolation has been worrying the Transit Riders' Union of Edmonton for some time now.
When planning for LRT to NAIT started, it kind of made sense to just tie it in wherever it fit downtown. But now there's expansion to six legs being considered, all radiating from downtown
In order of current city priority, the major destinations are Clareview, Century Park, St. Albert, West Edmonton Mall, Mill Woods, and Sherwood Park.
Together, the Clareview and Century Park legs will form one line - it would be silly for them not to - but the stub to NAIT and eventually St. Albert still has no mate.
If the order holds, it ends up paired with West Edmonton Mall - odd, but not compared to the absurdity of Mill Woods-Downtown-Sherwood Park.
Or try this one: the St. Albert leg will split from Clareview at Churchill. Half the Mill Woods options do as well, and to save money West Edmonton splits from St. Albert and Sherwood Park from Mill Woods.
This one is utter nonsense. If all legs had the same frequency, we'd see five trains enter downtown from the northeast for every one that left for Century Park.
Not only does that guarantee that Churchill would be an absolute mess with people transferring, it would be nearly impossible to turn the trains around fast enough.
Which leads me to another issue: there's a very real limit to the frequency of trains through downtown. Without automatic train control, it's somewhere around every two minutes.
If all six legs (three lines) were to try it, we'd be stuck with a crowded train no more often than every six minutes from Clareview to Century Park forever.
I'm not saying that any of these scenarios are being officially considered by the city. But that's almost the bigger problem - not thinking about it doesn't make it go away.
Is anyone ready to drive this train?
– Brian Gould is a transportation planner and has served in a variety of roles with the Transit Riders’ Union of Edmonton. He’s committed to being car-less and is a vocal critic of auto-centric planning; email@example.com.