A council committee has taken the first step to overturning city council's decision on where a north central LRT line should go.

Council decided in 2006 that the future route would share a portion of the northeast line from the downtown, go north along the CPR railway in the Nose Creek valley, finally linking up with Harvest Hills Boulevard north of 96th Avenue north.

But a change of thinking might result in a change of route — and possibly a change in LRT technology. One concern is that an LRT line in the Nose Creek valley would be too hard for pedestrians to access.

Cities also think differently now about light rail transit, seeing the trains as catalysts for increased population density and urban renewal, said Ald. Druh Farrell.

"The current route is based on an outdated mode that we somehow separate LRT from communities because it's considered a negative ... that's just outdated," she said.

Calgary Transit will now study the idea of running the north central route up Centre Street or Edmonton Trail.

Looking at such street-level alignments would also make it feasible to use more tram-like LRT cars, which would require less elaborate stations, said senior planner Jen Malzer. 

"Low-floor trains are really great. They're a lot more accessible, they're maybe a bit more attractive too and can help integrate more easily into the community," she said.

The study will be completed in 2014. There's no timeline yet for building the north central line.


A map of existing and planned LRT routes in Calgary. (Calgary Transit)