In mid-May the test run for the Calgary west LRT route took place; a full 10 months before the official opening of the line. With the words "Opening early 2013" and "Thank you" lighting up the vehicle, it ran between 11th St. and 24th St. S.W. Once there is more line ready for testing there will be 3 more trains added.
This test was a milestone run for this project that is estimated to cost $1.4 billion. This LRT leg is really going to open up transportation opportunities to Calgarians and is slated to officially open for business in March 2013.
Running from 10th St. to 73 Street Southwest, Calgary's west LRT leg is going to help meet the demands for mobility due to the city's increasing population. The project includes 8.2 km of track, LRT systems including communications, signals and traction power, 7 stations, 3 terminal facilities for transit buses, 3 facilities for park-and-ride as well as underpass or pedestrian bridge structures.
The north versus the southeast
With all of the excitement of the West LRT leg wrapping up the next logical question is whether the north or the southeast will be next in line for lightrail transit. This may become a heated battle with both quadrants needing and wanting this service so badly.
According to Alderman Druh Farrell, the decision should be based solely on politics and since the funding is not yet in place for the project it will have to be studied very carefully. The decision to build north or southeast should be based on the growth potential, the need, the return on investment and ridership in both areas.
It's going to be interesting, to say the least, to see the debates put forth by both sections in the coming months. The south already feels ignored by the fast tracking of the west LRT and may put up quite a fight for the battle of the next LRT leg.
It's not a matter of who needs this lightrail transit but rather who needs it the most. That answer will come in the form of reports and statistics in the near future. The numbers will say it all and will be the underlying basis for the final decision. In the meantime, quite a debate is brewing since both sectors could really use some transportation relief right now.
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