News / Edmonton

Councillors ponder merits of LRT vs BRT for Whyte Avenue

Bus Rapid Transit would be a temporary solution for the busy thoroughfare, but one councillor says it only 'look good on paper'.

A report presented to council suggests preferred connection of the route will be located on Whyte Avenue.

Kevin Tuong / Edmonton Freelance

A report presented to council suggests preferred connection of the route will be located on Whyte Avenue.

To BRT or not to BRT? That is the question.

Members of city council's executive committee discussed the pros and cons of LRT and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) as part of a larger discussion on the city's LRT expansion plan on Monday.

One current point of contention is what transit solution would work best for Whyte Avenue. Administration has recommeded the avenue as a link for the Centre Line LRT connecting downtown to east Edmonton.

Although in the past council had voted to go with LRT, Mayor Don Iveson says they are discussing putting in BRT as a temporary solution due to feedback from the public.

"There is no doubt that LRT creates more development and positive impact for neighbourhoods at stations and stops than Bus Rapid Transit," Iveson said.

Ward 8 Coun. Ben Henderson is very much in favour of the Centre Line crossing Whyte Avenue instead of BRT.

He says BRT as a short-term alternative to LRT would make sense if the ridership wasn’t there, but that's not the case on Whyte Avenue.

“If you have high ridership corridors, you know, it's maybe a bit more expensive, but it can move way more people with fewer vehicles,” he said.

“If you can imagine a bus that can hold maybe 90 people and an LRT that can hold 500 people. You need five buses in order to take the same number of people.”

He believes ridership would be high on Whyte Avenue from day one because the area attracts a lot people and is close to the University of Alberta.

Meanwhile, Ward 11 Coun. Mike Nickel is completely against the idea of either an LRT or BRT on Whyte Avenue, period.

“You are taking an already congested area and trying to jam in a BRT line or an LRT line,” Nickel said.

He said the concepts “look good on paper” but would not work in real life.

He stressed there was already insufficient parking in the area and the addition of either of those lines would only have negative consequences for businesses on the avenue.

Committee asked administration for more information on the cost estimates for a BRT as well as an LRT line, to be presented in the next council meeting on Jan. 23.

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