Green Line report to look at building LRT first

City council has decided to look at building the Green Line as an LRT line right away instead of converting dedicated bus lanes.

City council agrees to hear the argument for C-Trains not buses in transitway

LRT lines, such as this one in Calgary, are the most cost effective way to expand rapid transit, a report by the Pembina Institute says. (CBC)

City council has approved looking at whether it's possible to build Calgary's next public transit mega-project as an LRT line.

The current plan has the city building dedicated bus lanes on the transitway that will run from Calgary's northern outskirts, down Centre Street, through downtown and into the deep southeast past the South Health Campus.

Building for LRT service could cost up to $5 billion. 

One councillor says with the new NDP government's interest in public transit and a federal transit strategy, billions might be available for Calgary to help make that LRT line happen sooner. He wants the city to be ready if the money is there.

"This shows the initiative. This gets it forward. We're being pro-active about how we're going to be able to move forward," said Coun. Shane Keating, who represents the area that will see the most impact. "Then we have to go to them to say, 'You know what? You have a responsibility to the city as well. Your voters also say we need this as a priority,' and I think that's what we did today."

The idea with the 40-kilometre long Green Line was to start running buses on its southeast alignment in 2021.

There is currently no firm timetable for converting the Green Line to LRT service but it's thought to be sometime after 2029.

Doug Morgan, the director of Calgary Transit, says the issue of where on the Green Line the conversion to LRT should happen first will have to be studied.

Keating's motion on converting it sooner means a report will be done by the end of this year.