The Valley Line: What is “Urban LRT”?

We often receive questions about how and why the Valley Line will be different from the existing Capital and Metro lines. People have heard that the Valley Line will run at street level. They’ve heard it will be a low-floor, urban LRT. And they’ve heard that it will be slower than the existing LRT. Many Edmontonians are curious to know what all of this will actually mean for them. What will it be like to live near, travel on, or drive next to the Valley Line?

Urban vs. Suburban LRT

Edmonton’s current LRT is considered a suburban system—it’s designed to quickly move a lot of people over large distances. The Valley Line will be an urban LRT system. It will make frequent stops, and the stops and stations will be closer together than what Edmontonians may be used to. This means that the Valley Line will typically travel at lower speeds than the Capital Line or the Metro Line: usually at or below community traffic speeds.

The Valley Line is being built this way for a few reasons. First, urban LRT will help us meet the goals set out in the City’s vision and strategic plan. The strategic plan includes a transportation master plan (TMP), The Way We Move, which envisions Edmonton’s transportation system for both today and 2040. It also includes a municipal development plan, The Way We Grow, which envisions a more compact urban form.

Second, low-floor, urban LRT offers a number of advantages, including:

  • Smaller-scale stops that are spaced closer together
  • Fully accessible, step-free boarding
  • Maximizing openness of space to create safe environments at stops and stations
  • Reducing vehicle and traffic speeds in congested areas to support safe, pedestrian-friendly communities
  • Investing in landscaping, streetscaping, and architectural features to improve visual appeal and community integration

These advantages, combined with the fact that low-floor LRT requires less infrastructure than the high-floor LRT Edmontonians are used to, means that urban LRT becomes a welcome and vital part of the communities it serves—it’s designed with the look and feel of the local community in mind.

For drivers, cyclists and pedestrians who will be traveling alongside the Valley Line, urban LRT is “road safe.” In areas where the Valley Line runs at street level, it will travel at or under the posted speed limit for all other traffic. Where the train is elevated or below ground, it won’t go faster than 70 km/h. In areas between stops, the LRT will function like any other part of Edmonton’s existing roadway system, with clear signs and signals.

Even though the Valley Line offers a different LRT experience than Edmontonians are used to, safely interacting with low-floor LRT requires the same good traffic sense that Edmonton drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians are expected to show on our urban roads today.

More information about the way that Edmonton is growing its LRT network, and the rationale for these decisions, can be found online: http://www.edmonton.ca/transportation/PDF/URBAN_LRT.pdf

 

Artist's rendering: The Valley Line at Churchill Square
Artist’s rendering: The Valley Line at Churchill Square