Metro Line opening September 6

The Metro Line is opening to public service on Sunday, September 6, 2015. This new LRT extension between downtown and NAIT has been a long time coming, and it’s bringing significant changes to Edmonton’s transportation system.

Because work on the advanced communication-based train control system is not complete the City is taking a staged approach to bringing the Metro Line into public service. While the initial service won’t be as fast or as frequent as it will be in the future there are several things people need to know about what Metro Line operations mean for Edmonton.

 

LRT Service Changes

First and foremost, there’s a new LRT! People can access new stations at MacEwan, Kingsway/Royal Alex and NAIT. The Metro Line joins the pre-existing Capital Line at Churchill Station, and the two lines share a single set of tracks between Churchill and Health Sciences/Jubilee. At first ETS is running the Metro Line all the way south to Century Park during peak periods, so passengers can change between the Capital Line and the Metro Line anywhere between those two stations. We created a Metro Line Operations Video to help explain.

Here are a couple of key points:

  • Board the right train. With two northbound destinations LRT passengers need to know they are headed for their proper destinations north of Churchill Station. Please check the destination sign on the front and side of a train and listen to station announcements. Please also keep in mind that Metro Line trains will three cars long, while Capital Line trains will be five cars long.
  • Give yourself more travel time. With people switching between LRT lines and learning new timings for bus and LRT schedules it’s likely some folks could miss a connection. Also, at first there will be a reduction in the frequency of LRT service between Churchill and Clareview Station until the signalling system is fully implemented.

We’ll all adapt to Metro Line operations, but in the early days a little extra time and patience will help.

 

Traffic Impacts

There’s no question: Metro Line operations are going to have significant traffic impacts. In an effort to be as transparent as possible we pulled together our most recent data to describe the worst case traffic scenario at peak morning and afternoon periods, which could see crossing gates lowered for up to four minutes and could have traffic backing up for several blocks. If historic traffic patterns don’t change it could take a motorist up to three or four traffic signal cycles to cross the Metro Line on 111 Ave and Princess Elizabeth Ave during peak periods.

To be clear — the City does not expect the Metro Line to cause 16 minute traffic delays at these intersections all the time. We can’t predict transportation patterns for everyone, but we do expect that a.) some commuting motorists will find alternate routes during rush hour and b.) 10,000 people will start using the LRT. We’re also hoping that motorists will give themselves more time to get where they need to go.

Nevertheless, there will be traffic delays and the City has taken steps to decrease them. For example, northbound and southbound trains will meet and hold at MacEwan Station so we can coordinate their movements with traffic signals. We will be monitoring Metro Line operations very closely to adjust signal timings for the optimal flow of traffic and trains.

 

Safety

The Metro Line is a big change for Edmonton’s urban landscape. People have grown accustomed to the infrastructure that’s been in place for a long time, but now trains are running on the tracks between MacEwan and NAIT on a regular schedule. The top priority is for everyone to stay safe around LRT.

The City has developed the TraxSafe Program, which offers presentations about LRT safety to groups all over Edmonton. We also developed this safety video.

There are two key points to remember:

  • Never stop on the tracks. There’s no reason why a pedestrian, a cyclist or a motorist should ever stop on LRT tracks. Trains are quick, quiet and they can come from both northbound and southbound directions. Whatever your mode of transport when crossing LRT tracks, please clear the intersection as quickly as possible.
  • Obey all signs and signals. Flashing lights, warning bells and crossing gates all indicate that a train is coming. Please follow their directions to stay safe around LRT.

The Metro Line has faced a lot of challenges, and there’s more work to do to bring it into full operation. We truly appreciate everyone’s patience as we learn together what the Metro Line means for Edmonton.