The initial phase of the Green Line Light Rail Transit (LRT) has been approved by Calgary city council in a 12-3 vote on May 15. The project has significantly decreased in size and increased in price, leaving some citizens and their representatives unhappy.
The massive transit project originally planned to connect northern Calgary with the Seton community in the deep southeast. Now, the plan calls for the number of stations to be scaled back to run from 16th Avenue, N.W., to 126th Avenue, S.E.
The original project was estimated to cost $4.52 billion but now the truncated version is pegged at $4.6 billion, leaving citizens frustrated, claims Michelle Rempel, Conservative MP for Calgary Nose Hill.
“I suspect many suburban Calgarians who are desperate for access to the LRT are going to be asking some pretty tough questions about why they should accept such a massive reduction in scope while the price tag for this project has ballooned,” she says in a recent press release.
The Calgary Journal had the opportunity to talk to some Calgary transit users about what they think of the new Green Line plan.
“I think that there is not enough transit available considering the size of the city and the fact that the southeast has super limited access to transit,” says Kendra Revoy, waiting for her train at Banff Trail station, near 16th Avenue N.W. where the new line is set to run.
Fellow transit user Karen Kulchyski is a little more skeptical of the project.
“I know for our family, we’re big users of transit, just because the cost of parking is just phenomenal downtown,” she says, adding, “Is there a big need? I haven’t seen any studies that indicate that people in the south are really looking for this type of transit.”
Conservative MP Tom Kmiec from Calgary Shepard, in the southeast, says the frustration is more about the timeline of the project than the scaling back of the new line’s reach. The new plan would mean beginning construction in 2020 with trains running by 2026.
“People in my riding are not happy. A lot of people who recently purchased homes in my community were told the Green Line would service them by 2024. Under this plan, they were sold a bill of goods. The funding announcement by our former federal government was supposed to ease the transit crisis in my riding,” he says in the press release issued with Rempel and city Coun. Sean Chu.
Cost is another issue that Rempel, Kmiec and Chu touched on in their joint press release. While the city committed $1.56 billion and the federal government has promised $1.5 billion, they claim that it’s unfair to scale back the project and increase the budget without telling taxpayers why.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi told the Calgary Herald Monday that “while it’s disappointing to some people who wanted to see even more, I’m reminded that it is by far the largest investment in public transit in our history.”
“When we combine that with four Bus Rapid Transit Lines that are also being built, it means tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Calgarians, will have far more mobility options to get around the city much more conveniently on transit so this is a very, very good day.”
The provincial government will not commit funding until it has a final design plan and funding proposal. The project will go forward once all levels of funding are acquired, says the City of Calgary’s website.
- By Amber McLinden