It’s been a while since I took a look at what’s going on in Edmonton. I was reading Jarett Walker’s recent post on “The Strasbourg of the Prairies.” Lo and behold, Edmonton was the one being labelled as Strasbourg? “Dead”-monton? Actually, Edmonton isn’t that bad. You just have to know what you’re looking for and what you want to do when you’re in Edmonton. Many of my early years were spent in the Alberta capital.
From the looks of the new Edmonton LRT plan, things look very promising. After being a North American pioneer in LRT, transit developments have been comparable to continental drift in the past 30 years. The original line from downtown to the northeast had barely been added to for a couple decades. Then the southern LRT extension to Century Park has finally been completed.
Now there are some very big plans in the works. This plan signals a big change of thinking in oil rich Alberta. The planned lines could possibly leapfrog Edmonton past Calgary in terms of rail service.
When I last spent significant time in Edmonton, I stayed in the far south of the city and had to commute to the area around West Edmonton Mall. At the time, I looked at what it would take to bus the whole trip. It was a nasty and long 1.5 hour trip in both directions involving a daily trip to the University of Alberta to transfer. I was not willing to give up 3 hours of my day everyday when the drive ranged from 15-25 minutes in each direction along the Whitemud Freeway.
If Edmonton’s full LRT plan comes to fruition, then my former commute could be done in a more reasonable time via transit. It looks promising. It will be worth a short trip to Wild Rose Country if both Calgary and Edmonton can fulfill their LRT aspirations.