The city of Calgary, Vancouver’s nearest big-city neighbour to the east, is set to open a new $1.4 billion light rapid transit line on December 10, 2012. The project video does a nice job of taking the viewer along the West LRT route, which runs from downtown Calgary to 69 Street SW near Christie Park. A big part of the cost of the project has obviously gone into keeping the line separated from the city’s road system, including tunnels and Skytrain-like guideway.
I lived in Calgary for some years in the 1980s, and after an absence of almost 20 years I returned to the city three or four times in 2012. The extensive urban highway system was capable of handling demand in former times, but road congestion is now a serious problem. As I sat in my taxi on the crowded Deerfoot Trail, I wondered why the city government never built the airport transit line that was on the drawing boards in the early 1980s. The West LRT is the first new leg to be added to the system since that date, although there have been incremental station additions in the south, northeast and northwest.