‘Don’t let idiots build your transit’: Reporter rips into Edmonton’s Metro LRT Line

Click to play video: 'Reporter rails against ‘horribly designed’ LRT'
Reporter rails against ‘horribly designed’ LRT
WATCH ABOVE: A newspaper reporter's article slamming the Metro LRT Line pleads with other cities to use Edmonton as a cautionary tale. Vinesh Pratap reports – Jan 5, 2016

EDMONTON – A column in a national newspaper urges policymakers of Canada to come to Edmonton to see the “failure,” “incompetence” and “ineptitude” of the new LRT line.

Edmonton National Post reporter Tristin Hopper identifies himself as “a fervent supporter of public transit,” but uses the Metro LRT Line as a lesson on how not to build it.

Hopper describes Edmonton’s LRT project as “the equivalent of a candy company releasing a new chocolate bar called Herpes Al-Qaeda.”

“It’s slower than a bus. It has slowed down the buses that existed. And it is almost certainly increasing Edmonton’s net amount of carbon emissions.

“In short, it fails on every single possible justification for why cities should build light rail.”

Hopper said the big issue with the Metro LRT is its design: built at grade and goes through several major intersections. The result, he said, is lengthy and frequent traffic tie-ups and idling vehicles.

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READ MORE: Drivers could be stuck at LRT crossing for up to 16 minutes: Metro LRT update

He wrote, as the country approaches a transit infrastructure boom like the “highway-building boom of the 1950s,” think of Edmonton.

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“Before designing a single new subway line or streetcar lane, be cognizant of one ironclad maxim; don’t let idiots build your transit.”

Global News spoke to Hopper about his article and asked him why he decided to write it.

He said he bought a house near the Metro LRT only to be shocked by its horrible design.

“I guess I was just surprised how slow and inefficient is it.”

READ MORE: By the numbers: Seven-year saga of Edmonton’s much-delayed Metro Line LRT 

He explained the irony is that one of the purposes for public transit is to reduce overall emissions. He feels the gridlock and additional bus routes created because of the LRT line likely increase overall emissions.

“I’m not saying tear out the tracks – I certainly fantasize about that a lot – keep the train but obviously when you début a project when it’s such an obvious failure – no one is saving time, you’re not saving fuel, you’re not getting people downtown any faster – stop running the train until something is fixed.”

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Through his frustration, Hopper hopes Edmonton serves as a cautionary tale to other cities.

“I urge any policy makers, before you completely lose the trust and faith of the community, watch Edmonton. Look at this, see what a failure it is, and then put up a giant poster on your wall that says: ‘Don’t do what Edmonton did.'”

City Councillor Andrew Knack responded to the piece on his Facebook page Tuesday.

“There’s likely nothing more I can say that hasn’t already been said about the Metro Line,” he wrote.

Knack admitted things went wrong, but pushes people to consider the changes that have been made since. He said there’s been personnel changes within the Transportation Department and written reporting versus verbal reporting on project updates.

READ MORE: Communication breakdown, project mismanagement cited in Metro LRT Line audit 

Knack said 88 per cent of city projects are on or ahead of schedule and that nearly 97 per cent of those 92 projects are on or under budget.

“No matter how many personnel, process or reporting changes are made, it is unlikely we will be perfect on every single project,” Knack wrote. “The purpose of those changes is to minimize the opportunity for mistakes to be made and if they are made, to ensure everyone, including the public, is made well aware of any issues and what is being done to resolve them.”

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