Riding the virtual rails with the Edmonton High Level Streetcar
'I’m kind of hoping that when you play the game you will get tricked into learning something.'
Thanksgiving long weekend offers the final chance this year to ride the High Level streetcar.
Volunteer members of the Edmonton Radial Railway Society operate the service. They say business is up 10 per cent over last year.
"We get an awful lot of people from out of Edmonton, from out of the country, to ride on the streetcars," said Chris Ashdown, society president.
For those who miss out this weekend, there's another way to see the city from atop the High Level bridge.
Peter Fiala is founder of Gametrip, a local company that developed Edmonton Trolley Car. The game can be downloaded for free as an app on smartphones; as of Sept. 12, it can also be downloaded from the game distribution platform Steam. That version is used with a virtual-reality headset that allows players to explore their full environment.
Set in 1915, the game allows players to talk to people from the time period and see city landmarks from a century ago.
The star of the show is Streetcar 33, known for its sign of Namayo Avenue, the former name for 97th Street.
"There is an educational standpoint to it, too. I'm kind of hoping that when you play the game you will get tricked into learning something."
One scene captures the historically accurate moment when a locomotive travels across the bridge at the same time as the streetcar.
The game is currently available for five different platforms and has been downloaded more than 3,500 times.
"It shows the interest of the community for our streetcars," said Ashdown.
"It's a really good educational tool. The accuracy is really good. What you are seeing of the streetcar, it has got the sounds and everything. And the characters that are in it are period characters, so that really brings to life what the streetcar was like."
Regular service streetcar, which runs from Strathcona station to a terminal at Jasper Plaza, resumes on the Victoria Day weekend in May.