City & Politics, Planning, Transportation

West LRT line opens in Calgary

Calgary’s LRT system is quickly becoming the go-to mode of transportation for many commuting Calgarians. The west leg of the LRT opened for business on December 10th, marking a huge accomplishment for the city’s public transportation system. The service, which has lines that run north to south through the city and west to east through the downtown core, was in need of a line that extended to the far-flung western part of the city. This new line does just that. Running between the downtown core to 69th St. S.W., the West LRT leg offers Calgarians who call the west side their home an easier option to travel to work.

The opening of the new service elated Sandra Baker, a resident in Calgary west. “Driving into downtown is always a hassle from here,” says Baker. “Bow Trail can get so backed up during rush hour. It’s nice to know that I have another option now. I can sit on the train and be free from the irritations that come from rush-hour traffic in Calgary. It’s just awesome.”

Many riders share the same sentiments and the excitement in the city over the opening of the West LRT was palpable. Because this new extension reaches so many more people, ridership on the LRT is expected to grow by leaps and bounds over the next few years. In a city that suffers from traffic congestion, impatient drivers and long commutes, the expansion of the LRT system will provide some measure of relief for the thousands of people who commute downtown each day.

During the celebration of the new expansion, Alberta Transportation Minister Ric McIver announced that in addition to the new West LRT line, Calgary will receive $133 million to acquire at least 50 new LRT cars.

“Coupled with our capital planning processes, we are funding and building the infrastructure to increase the quality of life and economic prosperity of our citizens and our province,” said McIver in a release.

The new West LRT line took about 3 years to complete and cost $1.4 billion dollars. This makes it one of the largest infrastructure projects ever completed in the city. The work and money spent are a good investment for a city that is ever-growing and always running.

Krista Wiebe is a freelance writer and editor based in Calgary, Alberta. Follow her on Twitter @KristaWiebe

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