Concerns raised about train frequency on Metro LRT Line

WATCH ABOVE: There’s still no word on when the Metro LRT line to NAIT will open, but when it does the opening will be staged. As Vinesh Pratap reports, it’s led to questions.

EDMONTON – An opening date for the Metro LRT line to NAIT has yet to be announced, but already concerns are being raised about the frequency of trains on the line.

After more than a year of setbacks, once the Metro Line finally opens it will be done in stages.

“We’re doing a staged implementation of the line because we want to open up the new line as quickly as possible,” said John Wollenzin, division supervisor of LRT Operations with Edmonton Transit.

Here’s how the system will break down:

The Capital Line currently runs from Century Park to Clareview and will continue to do so once the Metro Line opens.

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The new Metro Line is supposed to run between NAIT and the Health Sciences/Jubilee Station, but that’s not how it will run at first.

During peak hours, Metro Line trains will run every 15 minutes between Century Park and NAIT. During off peak hours (weekdays after 10 p.m., Saturdays after 7 p.m. And all day Sundays) Metro Line trains will run on their regular route.

“The way we’re going to manage it is every third train that comes north, instead of going to Clareview, it’s going to go off to NAIT,” Wollenzin explained. “So between Churchill and Century Park you have five-minute service, between Churchill and NAIT you have 15-minute service and between Churchill and Clareview you have alternating five and 10-minute service.”

Graphic by Tonia Huynh, Global News.

While the schedule might sound confusing, Wollenzin says people are going to have to pay attention.

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“No, I don’t think it’s going to confuse passengers,” he said. “When you open a new line there’s going to be some of that. People have to watch the signs, especially when they’re going northbound … Is a train going to say ‘Clareview’ on the front or is it going to say ‘NAIT’ on the front?”

Once the Metro Line finally runs on its regular schedule, it will only run on a 10-minute frequency. Regular transit user Josh Stock says he was shocked to learn it wouldn’t be running more frequently.

“I had to do a double take because all the information that I’ve been seeing on the city’s website, and the frequently asked questions about the Metro Line delay, everything kind of pointed to a five-minute frequency. And why would it be any different? That’s what the Capital Line is right now,” said Stock.

Stock is particularly interested to see what’s going to happen in 2016 when the downtown arena opens.

“So we’re going to have a 10-minute frequency after hockey games at Rogers Place and they’re only going to be three cars in length. That’s insane. How are you going to fit all those people on there?

“Delay after delay after delay after delay after delay,” he continued. “I thought at the end of the tunnel there would be at least a five-minute frequency train.”

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READ MORE: City is still ‘cautiously optimistic’ Metro LRT Line will open this spring

Back in January, a comment made by the general manager of Transportation Services suggested trains would run more often than every 10 minutes.

“Each train running down the Capital Line is five minutes apart. When you integrate the Metro Line it will be running two-and-a-half minutes apart,” said Dorian Wandzura.

The city says the line is designed to run at a five-minute frequency, but at the moment there aren’t enough trains to run at that capacity.

“The capability is there,” Wollenzin said Thursday, “but we don’t have enough physical equipment to do that. Should council in the future decide that people, residents want more service then we could by all means order more trains.”

Stock says he hopes someone is held accountable for the ongoing delays. He hopes the train is at least up and running by the time he heads to NAIT in the fall.

“I think there needs to be some serious housekeeping in the transportation department,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to the audit.”

The Metro Line was originally scheduled to open in April 2014.

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With files from Vinesh Pratap, Global News.