LRT is Not Necessary
We’re pretty lucky to live so centrally with access to many great facilities and the wonderful River Valley. For those of us who like to walk or bike, access to downtown is a matter of minutes.
For most people in Edmonton, the Downtown and surrounding area is a place to go to school or work or shop. For us, it’s home. I’m sad that the City has chosen to cut the LRT through our community. The LRT will not serve Boyle Street, as the only stop in our area will be at 102 Avenue and 96 Street. The only high density development nearby is the Chinese Elders Mansion, where the average age is in the 80s – not your most likely users of LRT. Removing traffic lanes on 104 Avenue from 107 Street westward will hamper access into and out of Boyle Street from the west, with 102 Avenue made into one lane to accommodate the LRT. Jasper Avenue will lose traffic lanes to sidewalk widening, and vehicular traffic into Boyle Street will be hampered.
While it is true that currently many of our residents choose to bike or walk, but if we wish to attract the extra ten thousand residents that were supposed to move into the area, we must take into account the traffic congestion that will deter them from coming. Some might want to stay with the status quo, but new residents will attract grocery stores and coffee shops and restaurants. On one hand, City of Edmonton Sustainable Development wants to densify our area according to the Quarters plan, while the City Transportation Department proposes to create a bottleneck due to traffic lanes lost to LRT lines.
Buses are so much more economical and flexible than a rail system. Buses reach into the parts of our community where people live. The LRT is not any more ecologically sound than a small car and no faster as the proposed new line will have an average speed of 35km/hr. LRT technology is outdated before it is even installed.
Can we learn from the past? Radial street cars ran from 1908 to 1951; trolleys from 1939 to 2009. The infrastructure, rail lines, and overhead wires had to be taken down when those two systems were deemed outdated. How long will it be till the LRT tracks go the same way? LRT lines do not actually increase transit use – they only move people out of buses. People who need to drive will continue to do so. Not everyone one is young and healthy enough to wait out in the cold for public transportation.
Let us enjoy our privileged location on foot, by bike, on buses, or in cars. I’m hoping people in our community will take a role of leadership and let the City management know what we want and what is good for us. Our community is unsurpassed for its easy access to all the treasures of Downtown and the River Valley. Let’s work together to make sure we achieve our full potential!
Manon is a resident of Boyle Street and an active volunteer in the community. This column contains her own opinions, and is not affiliated with the Boyle Street Community League.