The much-maligned, often delayed Metro LRT line to NAIT finally opened to its first day of full traffic on Tuesday and, despite fears of massive delays, trains ran better than many expected.
Early reports suggested expected traffic delays of up to 12-16 minutes at major intersections, drawing concern from emergency responders, commuters, and students. With the line’s first peak traffic service on Tues- day, the warning proved somewhat anticlimactic, as delays were short or nonexistent, and transit operations ran smoothly over the course of the day.
“ Traffic impacts have always been expected with the opening of the Metro Line and our goal has been to make people aware of traffic impacts so they can plan their route and give themselves enough time to get where they need to go,” said Lindsay Yarmon, communications adviser for the City of Edmonton.
“Our most recent efforts included providing a worst-case scenario based on traffic modelling, with traffic signals at crossings activated for up to four minutes at a time and motorists waiting up to three or four signal cycles to clear the intersection.” she said.
“We haven’t seen those wait times so far but we’ll continue to closely monitor the situation and make any tweaks to keep trains and traffic flowing as smoothly as possible.”
NAITSA Advocacy Director Jason Roth was encouraged. “NAIT students obviously got the mes- sage to adjust their schedules, routes, and leave early to mitigate traffic congestions. Fantastic!” he said.
Trains on the Metro LRT line didn’t have time to open their doors to the public before reports surfaced last week that the new transit service could mean longer waits for commuters not utilizing the new LRT line.
City councillors didn’t hesitate to voice their concern to the media, with numerous articles quoting councillors reacting to the news. Council’s Transportation Committee eventually went back to transit officials to request a cost estimate on moving the NAIT station to south of Princess Elizabeth Avenue, as well as a feasibility study on installing a bridge or tunnel at the intersection when the line is eventually expanded north to St. Albert.
NAITSA has been quick to respond to the reports as well, with a media release Sept. 4 stating that the students’ association is “disappointed with the city’s news of significant traffic delays that will affect NAIT students when the Metro LRT line opens (last) Sunday.”
With constant delays frustrating students, continued concerns regarding the safety and operation of the Metro LRT line is certainly on NAITSA’s radar.
Some tips for reaching campus without running afoul of the new LRT line:
For southbound commuters, most access is still unrestricted to campus. For transit users, it may be advisable to get off the bus at the bus stops directly adjacent to the ETS Westwood Garage bus depot, or along 118 Avenue. For northbound commuters, access to campus via 109 Street and Princess Elizabeth Avenue will remove the need to cross the LRT tracks. However, be aware of potential delays along Princess Elizabeth Avenue. Travelling through the Kingsway Garden Mall parking lot is not advised, especially during peak hours. For tran- sit commuters, bus Route 15 has two stops along 109 Street and Princess Elizabeth Avenue before the LRT tracks. Other northbound transit commuters are advised to continue to the Kingsway/ Royal Alex LRT station to transfer to the LRT travelling to NAIT station. All commuters are advised to contact the City of Edmonton via 311 for more detailed information.
“I would encourage students and staff at NAIT to find alternate routes, leave early, and act in a safe manner,” said Roth.