Friday, August 19, 2011

When light rail doesn't get on the right track

Tranzwatching in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

An important part of major transit infrastructure - such as bus rapid transit corridors or light rail lines - is getting the relationship with suburban re-development right.

The massive car-parks needed to foster patronage can be counter-productive to fostering the intimate scale and amenities required of higher density living, a lesson learnt in Edmonton Canada in the last 40 years.  
As the general manager of the city's transportation department has said (quoted in a Transport Politic posting on proposed changes in the city's strategic goals )  “The LRT is not just about moving people. It’s about building a city.”

Edmonton (1.1 million metropop) was the first city in North America to build light rail (a new system from scratch) opening a single 6.9 km line in 1978, and extending this slowly, bit by bit,  across the last 40 years to its current 20 km length. The line mostly runs on its own right of way and includes sections underground.

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