LRT, Enticing Downtown: Calgary
Are there takeaways from Calgary's downtown revitalization and LRT for Hamilton?
Of course, Calgary got started with LRT in 1981. In other words, they have had 37 years to develop their ridership, now over 270,000 per day.
This presentation has many useful facts and figures about the transit plan and how it fits into the City's overall strategy which includes complete streets.
However, pictures, especially fresh ones, are more immediate than all the words in the above links. I took these while on a work conference from July 19-21.
But LRT is only one part of a complex and rich revitalization which includes preservation of historical sites side by side with ultra modern high rises, cycling paths, the Olympic Plaza with plenty of room for outdoor concerts and pop up booths of all types.
I was especially impressed by this pedestrian street. You can see cycling lanes integrated within it as well as the colourful chair to the left, which are seating for street performers who use a stage there (you can just see the edge of the stage and the big shadow of it near the bottom left corner of the picture). The trees are still relatively young but in time will provide wonderful shade.
Hamilton is a unique city and of course how the LRT is built and integrated into the bigger transit and complete streets plan will be particular to what works here. But I was very inspired seeing how much of an impact a highly effective and well-used transit system can have on reducing gridlock and car pollution, and being at the heart of a carefully crafted urban renewal. I am very much looking forward to see what the LRT and its attendant community benefits, job creation, and attracting business investment will do for Hamilton over the coming years.