Photo: Edmonton Transit

CANADA: The first 2·3km segment of Edmonton Transit’s C$673m South LRT extension from Health Sciences Centre to South Campus was ceremonially opened on April 25, along with a new intermediate station at McKernan/Belgravia. Construction of the extension began in 2005, and the remaining 5·2 km to Century Park is expected to open in April 2010.

Participating in the inauguration were Edmonton’s Mayor Stephen Mandel; Minister of Labour Rona Ambrose, Minister of Aboriginal Relations ; Gene Zwozdesky, Don Hickey, Vice President Facilities & Operations for the University of Alberta. Funding for the extension was provided by Canadian government, and the province of Alberta as well as the City of Edmonton. To date, Edmonton has received C$107m in funding from the federal Gas Tax Fund, and C$210m from the province. Land for the station and bus interchange at South Campus was provided by the University of Alberta.

Zwozdesky pointed out that that the extension ‘will go a long way to improve the quality of life of residents and commuters while lowering traffic in this busy area of the city. This investment by three levels of government will also help increase road safety for both motorists and pedestrians and reduce Alberta’s carbon footprint.”

Revenue services began on April 26, when ET also restructured its bus network. Many of the bus routes which ran into the city centre now terminate at the South Campus interchange. Officials expect the opening of the extension to increase average weekday ridership on the light rail line from 50 000 to 65 000, with a further increase to 100 000 when the second phase has been completed.

Mandel said expansion of the light rail network was a key element in the city’s long-term vision. ‘For Edmonton to remain one of Canada’s most liveable and sustainable cities, we need to become more compact, and move people safely and efficiently’, he emphasised.

Edmonton Transit is currently taking delivery of 37 Siemens SD-160 LRVs to operate the South extension, increase capacity on the existing line, and make provision for further expansion. The city is working on plans for further expansion, and has already selected the first of the new routes which will run from the city centre to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology campus.