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.

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About the Author
Graeme McElheran
Graeme McElheran is the Communications Manager for Transportation Services, Financial Services & Utilities.
4 Comments
  1. […] The longest wait seemed to be for cars turning east onto 111 Avenue from 106 Street. There wasn’t much traffic today, so the waits probably weren’t too bad, but during rush hour I could see a 10 minute or longer wait being very realistic. The rumor flying around this weekend is that waits will last 16 minutes or more, but the City says this won’t be the case. “To be clear — the City does not expect the Metro Line to cause 16 minute traffic delays at these intersections all the time,” they wrote. […]

  2. Melanie Durocher
    2 years ago

    A few years ago I was visiting Boston and found their system ran quite smootly. I am wondering if you looked closely at their system or not? In my friends area the metro was above ground but ran WITH traffic. It didn’t leave the station until the traffic going the same direction was moving and would stop at crossings if the light was red for traffic giong the sam direction. It was still faster then regular traffic as it technically had it’s own lane. I know this may not work for Edmonton but it might be worth looking into as waiting at a light when no one in any direction is moving for 1 minute + and the LRT crossings aren’t down is frustrating and it’s only a matter of time before people start running the red lights. If the LRT isonly running at 25km/hr anyways it shouldn’t be hard to stop.
    Have a great day and good luck figuring out the most efficient way.

  3. Jennifer
    2 years ago

    Thanks for featuring us in your blog, MasterMaq! We hope you enjoyed your inaugural ride on the Metro Line. Since its opening on September 6, the Metro Line trains have been running smoothly, with any delays due to technical or communications issues being resolved quickly. There have been some traffic delays, but we’re not seeing the worst-case scenario wait times that were anticipated prior to the opening. We have been and will continue to monitor intersections along the Metro Line and make any necessary changes to keep traffic flowing for motorists, trains and pedestrians as smoothly as possible.

  4. Jennifer
    2 years ago

    Thanks for your suggestion, Melanie! Unfortunately, due to the high speeds that the Metro Line travels at, this type of signalling isn’t possible as the trains’ braking distances would be too great. However, we’re actually planning to have a signalling system similar to what you’re describing for our future Valley Line LRT. The Valley Line will operate at street-level with reduced speeds in congested areas, allowing LRT to fit and operate safely in pedestrian-oriented communities with reduced right-of-way and very few barriers. The line will use a ‘partial priority’ train control system, where the train communicates with traffic signals further in advance. The train will have the priority to cross upon arrival at most intersections, but it may be momentarily held at busier intersections to allow conflicting traffic to cross first. This provides a balance between allowing trains to proceed on a priority basis while still maximizing vehicular traffic flow. If you’d like more info on the Valley Line, please visit http://www.edmonton.ca/valleyline .

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