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Edmonton Transit Service opens its doors to celebrate 40 years of light rail

The Edmonton Transit Service opened its D.L. MacDonald Garage on Saturday to celebrate 40 years of LRT service.
The Edmonton Transit Service opened its D.L. MacDonald Garage on Saturday to celebrate 40 years of LRT service. Albert Delitala, Global News

The Edmonton Transit Service is celebrating 40 years of light rail transit service in the city.

The LRT opened on April 22, 1978, running between five stations from Central Station to Belvedere Station.

Lloyd Meyer, who is now an operations manager for the ETS, started training with the service as a transit operator just before the LRT launch.

“When I came to this position in 1977, I thought it’s a great career until I can find something better, and guess what?” Meyer said. “I never did.”

Technology has evolved a lot since trains first started running, according to Meyer.

“We’ve gone from typewriters and pens and paper logs to everything being computerized,” Meyer recalled. “Everything has gone digital.”

READ MORE: Edmonton looking at alternate solution for Metro LRT Line if Thales can’t deliver

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The ETS opened its D.L. MacDonald Garage to the public on Saturday for the first time in 15 years.

“We don’t often get the opportunity to open up the garage and show people, hey, [this is] where the trains are maintained, where they sleep at night,” said Craig McKeown, director of engineering at ETS.

WATCH: Edmonton Transit Service celebrates 40 years of light rail transit

Click to play video 'Edmonton LRT celebrates 40 years old transit on rails' Edmonton LRT celebrates 40 years old transit on rails
Edmonton LRT celebrates 40 years old transit on rails – Jun 16, 2018

The LRT system now consists of 18 stations, counting over 112,000 rides each weekday, according to ETS.

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Edmonton’s reputation as a driving city is beginning to change, says Gord Cebryk, the deputy city manager of city operations for the City of Edmonton.

“We’re seeing a lot more people shifting to different modes, whether that’s walking or biking or public transit, and LRT is a big part of our public transit network,” Cebryk said.

READ MORE: Retractable shields considered for Edmonton transit buses

Now in his 41st year with the ETS, Meyer says increasing ridership numbers show the LRT has a growing base of loyal users.

“It tells you that people value the service, that they use the service,” Meyer said. “And, I mean, there may be individuals that feel that it’s too successful because they have to cram themselves into the trains or because they have to fight their way on, but again, that’s just one of those success things.”