LRT cars from the '80s need to be phased out, Calgary Transit warns

Calgary Transit is warning city council that unless more LRT cars are ordered in the next few years, it may have to start cutting back on four-car train service.

Future of four-car service could be in jeopardy if replacements not ordered soon

Calgary Transit's oldest LRT cars, like this one, date back to the 1980s. (CBC)

Calgary Transit is warning city council that unless more LRT cars are ordered in the next few years, it may have to start cutting back on four-car train service.

Fifty new cars have been added, but the older model cars still make up about one-third of the fleet.

The oldest LRT cars date back to the early 1980s and require more maintenance than newer cars and are prone to breakdowns.

Budget documents suggest that, without replacing these cars, the future of four-car service could be in jeopardy.

Only used during peak times

Calgary Transit director Doug Morgan says while there is no immediate plan to curtail four-car service, the longer the older cars in service, the more uncertainty there is about their reliability.

"If we don't have replacements for those and they fail and we take them off line, it would mean we'd need to run three cars instead," he said.

"So we're going to work hard to keep those old cars on the line until we can replace them, but there is a risk we're trying to highlight to council should they break down, we're going to have to shorten our trains in order to still provide the same level of frequency to Calgarians."

Morgan says in order to extend their service life, the older cars are only used during peak times.

'Probably past due already'

Coun. Shane Keating, who chairs the transportation committee, says there's no immediate risk of service being affected.

But he says at some point, the oldest cars must be replaced.

"You can't have 40-year-old cars that have literally hundreds and hundreds of thousands of hours on them being your mainstay," he said.

"You've got to replace things when they're due and I think they're probably past due already. But the idea is to make sure that we're not extending the life simply to have four-car trains when they're not as reliable as they should be."