Saturday, February 16, 2013

Calgary considers adding streetcars

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Calgary, the second North American city to commit to modernized light rail transit, may join the ranks of such cities also diversifying into streetcar operations.

The city's senior transit planner is evaluating an urban transit loop that would interface with Calgary's existing LRT system, although he acknowledges other modes should also be evaluated. "Do we need something like a loop to feed people to 7th Avenue to get on the LRT, or do we need to connect the buses better in the inner city — not just in radial fashion (to downtown), but also connecting those corridors," Jon Lea of Calgary Transit said to local media.

Community activists have argued for a streetcar loop, while others have proposed a streetcar route along 17th Avenue and another on 4th Street S.W.

Calgary LRT began operations in May 1981, following the lead of Albertan sister city Edmonton (1978) and preceding modern LRT's U.S. debut in San Diego by roughly two months.

Since then, U.S. cities such as Portland, Ore., and Seattle have first added LRT lines and then streetcars, with Charlotte, N.C., Salt Lake City, and metropolitan Phoenix endeavoring to do the same. By contrast, Toronto is planning to build LRT lines to supplement its venerable streetcar system.