The Pros and Cons of the Green Line for Established Neighbourhoods (TGCA)

The Green Line LRT represents a new approach to light rail in Calgary. The current LRT network that exists in the city is based around the use of ‘high floor’ trains (otherwise known as Light Rail Vehicles or LRVs). The majority of Calgary’s LRT network has been designed to allow these LRVs to run at high speeds on their own dedicated right of way. This approach to LRT design requires the use of fencing and signalling devices that create a barrier in the communities the network serves. In order to board these ‘high floor’ LRVs, the City of Calgary has needed to design stations with large footprints as well as raised platforms that stand out from their surroundings. While it is easy to say that the City’s hands are tied when it comes to LRT design, a look to 7th Avenue downtown, where barricades are minimal and stations are integrated into their surroundings, shows that there is another way. The design approach to the Green Line aims to take this a step further.

The Green Line LRT will introduce ‘low floor’ LRVs to Calgary for the first time. Similar in style to the trams in use around Europe, these LRVs do not require large stations with high platforms to support them. By leveraging the design opportunities these stations afford, there are large portions of the Green Line where the right of way for the trains will be along streets with the stations doubling as community hubs. This integrated design approach means trains will travel at lower speeds along the streets, negating the need for the fences or signalling devices that can create a barrier through a community. In comparison to the buses now travelling along the Green Line route, the low floor LRVs will generate 10 decibels less of noise and decrease emissions thanks to Calgary Transit’s initiative to power the LRT network with 100 percent renewable wind energy. The number of  transit vehicles travelling the route will also decrease as a four car LRT can hold 904 people in comparison to the 110 passenger capacity of a 60 ft articulated bus.

Since the Green Line’s low floor LRVs and high level of community integration marks a first in Calgary’s approach to LRT, public consultation in the detailed design of the line becomes critical to how well it will be received. In recent blog posts, we’ve heard from Highland Park as well as Millican Ogden and learned of communities that welcome the opportunities the Green Line LRT offers, but are also concerned about the challenges posed by integrating a new style of mass transit system into an established community. This recognition of the need for a new rapid transit solution along the Green Line corridor and cautious optimism for its implementation are mirrored in today’s post from the Thorncliffe Greenview Community Association. As the Green Line’s detailed design process moves further along and the City continues its community consultations, it is our hope that these concerns will be gradually minimized and the full benefits of the Green Line LRT will be felt by everyone along the line’s length.

In the past we have also covered the stories of Northern Hills, Riverbend, Douglasdale/Quarry Park and Mahogany. While our blog continues to tell the story of the Green Line from the perspective of Community Associations and other large stakeholders, we would encourage individuals to share their stories with us as well. Please use the comment form on our ‘Your Say’ page or tweet using #LRTOTG. You can also help us get the word out by donating to the Foundation using the PayPal link at the top of this page. Check back often as we continue to tell the story of the need for the Green Line and do our best to ensure that construction begins now and not decades from now.

Thorncliffe Greenview

LRT on the Green Foundation

Letter of Support

It has been the pleasure of the Thorncliffe/Greenview Community Association (TGCA) to have been involved with LRT on the Green since its early nascent beginnings and even before with its predecessor “Smarter City”. Their strong, positive, and effective advocacy has been as impressive as the short time it has taken them to progress to their current level of sophistication. Their message is a laudable and achievable one. TGCA is in complete agreement that a desperate need exists for this city to take the next step in its maturity and advance the transit infrastructure to be one indicative of a million plus denizens in the 21st century. We also recognize that the “GreenLine” could very well prove to be the spine of an emergent body of public mobility for the next generation.

As a community association although we can share in the highest of aspirational goals we also feel the need to urge some caution in the practicalities we face in particular to an LRT line coming through the heart of an established area. Our area. We feel that for newer bookend communities on the potential “GreenLine” there are maximum gains with minimum sacrifice. It is for them easier to be unequivocally supportive. We of course respect but feel obligated to point out the difference of perspective. For TG the evaluation is more complex. With any development of such magnitude we ask ourselves three questions;

1/ What level of sacrifice are we as a community being asked to make?

2/ What benefit to the city’s greater good will be achieved by that sacrifice?

3/ What if any ancillary benefits will our community see with the resultant change(s)?

When applied to the widening of Mcknight Blvd some years ago, our conclusion was; the sacrifice to us would be huge, the corridor improvement would be minimal, and the only post outcomes would be for us negative.

When applying the same critique to the “GreenLine” regardless of either the Edmonton Trail or the Centre Street routing; again the sacrifice of TG would be huge, however we would acknowledge the benefits outside of our community would be even greater. As to possible after effects, this is where we see the greatest of all divergences. From eviscerating to transcendent, as a near inner city community in transition we are tremendously vulnerable to quality of planning and design for any LRT line. TGCA therefore urges expedience, but not at the expense of thoroughness. We also strongly believe that while fiscal prudence should be a cornerstone of any major decision, something as fundamentally important as an LRT line and its subsequent planning fallouts should not be scrimped on.


Marvin Quashnick

Thorncliffe Greenview Community Association

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