We are very good at calculating costs, but bad at tabulating benefits.

Green Line: Let’s talk about money

If you are a semi-occasional reader of Spur, you might have noticed that I tend to avoid talking about costs when discussing projects like the Green Line. I very rarely talk about specific dollar values, and when I speak on the radio I tend to avoid them as well. Part of the reason is that I often don’t have access to meaningful numbers. Sure, reports come out here and there about how much the project is going to cost, but these

Read more

Why the city has everyone scratching their heads in Victoria Park

The bus barn brain teaser

Back in December, both the Transportation & Transit Committee and City Council as a whole agreed that the Green Line LRT should travel along 12 Avenue S as it made its way through the community of the Beltline – the only thing left to decide was surface or underground. This was after months of careful detailed analysis by the Green Line team, including input from community organizations, businesses, and other stakeholders. It was, by all appearances, exactly how transit planning

Read more

Arenas and large venues should embrace the power of transit

How Green Line can serve the Stampede

This week, the city’s Transportation and Transit Committee will hear about the work being done narrowing down the route the Green Line LRT will take through the Beltline. As it stands currently, the 12 Avenue corridor is looking the most promising. Much of the discussion about Green Line in the Beltline has been focused on the eastern portion, namely the section East of the McLeod Trail/1St. SE Couplet, up to the river. For reference, here’s a map of the suggested

Read more

The Green Line will not be immune to crowding, so how do we plan for it?

Relieving C-Train Crowding: More trains or longer trains?

The C-Train certainly gets a lot of heavy use, especially during peak period. This is largely in part due to Calgary’s high downtown parking rates and relatively poor road access to the core, but the steady increase in ridership is thanks to the lengthening of the network including the addition of the West LRT arm, and a gradual intensification around C-Train stations that is all part of the move towards transit oriented development. At this point it doesn’t seem to matter when

Read more

Let’s toss out “core vs. edge” arguments and focus on building a great LRT system.

Hamilton’s LRT saga is a cautionary tale for Calgary

Last week was a busy one for Calgary’s new Green Line LRT project. On September 21 the Transportation and Transit Committee approved the fully-underground option through Crescent Heights and the downtown core. Also, after pressure from the Beltline Neighbourhood Association, area businesses, the Stampede, and (in the interest of full disclosure) myself the committee voted to put the high-scoring 12 Avenue underground alignment through the Beltline back on the table after it was removed solely due to its cost. What was most interesting about

Read more

Cost-compromising of the past is out, “doing it right” is in.

Green Line can learn from Red and Blue

This week, the City held a second round of open houses which trimmed down the options of how the Green Line LRT is going to pass through the Beltline as it makes its way from Downtown into Inglewood and Ramsay. I’ve written before about the possibilities for getting through the Beltline, and even done some playing with what a street-level LRT might look like on 10, 11, and 12 Avenues. Since then I’ve become convinced that the best option by a decent margin,

Read more

A top-down approach for a bottom-up city

Re-imagining light rail

Calgary was one of the first cities to build light rail in North America. When the LRT was built it was largely seen as a best-bang-for-your-buck solution. Compared to a subway you could increase coverage and match frequency at the cost of dealing with some downtown traffic. You can see the cost saving mentality in the alignment of the C-Train near the Stampede Grounds, and McMahon stadium. The stations are “close enough”.  You can also see the desire to emulate a subway, in

Read more

We can all get involved in improving 11 and 12 Avenue.

Playing with the street: Green Line LRT in Beltline

On a Jane’s Walk through the Warehouse District of the Beltline that will see part of the new Green Line LRT, Councillor Evan Woolley suggested that the LRT is likely to come down either 11 Ave S and/or 12 Ave S, or perhaps further entwine the coupled nature of 11 and 12th Avenues by running one direction on each street. Either way, the cost to put that small section underground is prohibitively high, so it’s likely that it will run street

Read more

Future LRT alignment in Downtown and the Beltline sets the tone for the rest of the line.

Green Line: mobility tool or commuter service?

This week, the “Green Line Team” at the city announced their initial evaluations of the various options on the alignment of the Green Line LRT through downtown. The options include permutations of underground tunnels, bridges, surface routes, and elevated railways, and are beautifully presented on the City’s Engage website. As I was looking through the options and the discussion surrounding each of them, I was conflicted. Option D (the City’s current favourite) puts everything underground, appealing to my “do it right” sensibility.

Read more