Edmonton

NAIT LRT line will open 'eventually,' mayor promises

“Eventually.” That was Mayor Don Iveson’s one-word answer Monday when asked when the long-delayed NAIT LRT line will finally open. Of course, the mayor had much more to say on the topic.

The $700-million project is now more than 15 months overdue

The $700-million Metro LRT line has been delayed so many times the mayor could only promise Monday it will open 'eventually.' (CBC)

"Eventually."

That was Mayor Don Iveson's one-word answer Monday when asked when the long-delayed LRT line to NAIT will finally open.

Of course, the mayor had much more to say on the topic. During his monthly call-in segment on CBC's Edmonton AM, Iveson said the city is exploring short-term solutions while it tries to solve long-standing problems with the signalling system.

Asked whether the Metro line will be ready before NAIT students return to classes on Sept. 8, Iveson said: "You know, we've played this game for over a year now. Of hoping for when the date might come, and then having to have another press conference saying, 'No, we don't know, or we're not going to make that date.' "

Just before the August long weekend, the city said it was looking at temporarily opening the new line in a reduced capacity. But that would reduce the frequency and speed of LRT service, transportation general manager Dorian Wandzura said at the time.

More information will be presented to city council on Aug. 17, he said.

On Monday, Iveson said the city is reluctant to use manual signalling as a short-term solution.

"We hadn't wanted to go that way, because it's not as sophisticated and it's not as robust, in terms of being able to handle the frequency that we'd like."

He said the line "theoretically" could be controlled manually, "but the trade off would be that the frequencies would be lower."

Iveson admitted that "communication could have been better" to keep the public informed.

"The indefinite postponement is honestly the situation," he said. "We do not know when this is going to be activated. We're working very hard to do it as soon as possible.

"Things are still in motion. There's still a lot of things happening to try to get this line moving."

If the line does not open before the NAIT programs begin, the mayor said, extra bus service will resume and will be improved from last year.

The $700-million project is now more than 15 months behind schedule.

In other transit news, the mayor hinted fare changes for children may be in the works.

Toronto recently changed its transit policy to allow children under 12 to ride free when accompanied by a parent.

"I think that's something we should take a look at," Iveson said. "It's something that I'm actually hoping we're going to take a look at in the fall. And that's all I can say about it, but stay tuned."

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