A 40th Avenue LRT station would be a tremendous boon to the surrounding communities in addition to the two major high schools nearby (Harry Ainlay and Louis St. Laurent). It would open up easier transit use for some 3700 students, and well over 10,000 surrounding neighbourhood residents. Naturally, some of these folks take the bus already, but by adding an LRT station we would expand our ridership base, and be able to reallocate bus hours from those communities and school buses to other more in need areas. This really is a win-win-win proposal, and one that I am completely committed to implementing.
Harry Ainlay High School and Louis St. Laurent High School will have a combined 3700 students in 2017-18 according to the Principals of those two schools. They also anticipate growth of 50 percent each in the next five years further providing reason to expand the LRT to establish a station along 40th Avenue. An inquiry was made in 2012 that determine that the site was ideal for the new direction the City was going in regards to LRT development, but the cost, estimated at $22-25 million, was too prohibitive for the current capital cycle.
Currently the two schools, along with the Royal Gardens and Greenfield communities among others, are in a precarious middle spot between the Century Park and Southgate LRT stations. While close in proximity to the other stations, the 40th avenue harbours tremendous transit demand of its own, not least because of the high schools. There are also junior high schools in the surrounding area that would be well served by an LRT station.
The Principals of the two high schools recently partnered up after an incident along the mainline LRT tracks raised safety concerns. There have also been some near misses in the past with motorists. 111th street is one of the busiest in Edmonton and having thousands of students crossing it in rush hour everyday is cause for concern.
When polled, 45.8% students at Harry Ainlay said they took the LRT regularly. 57.1% responded that they would take it regularly if there was a 40th avenue stop. With the time between Southgate and Century Park among the longest between LRT stops, an intermediary between the two would provide much better transit coverage and encourage LRT ridership thereby lowering car trips and raising revenues.
While the 2015-2018 capital program is already set, I will champion a 40th avenue LRT station as part of the 2019-2022 capital program. Currently, the priority for LRT expansion lies in areas where there is not yet LRT service. However, as a City we are shifting away from suburban style LRT stops that are less frequent to a more urban style that is more frequent. The 40th Avenue LRT fits this mandate perfectly. It could act as a stand alone project of its own or it could be part of a new integrated LRT network extensions.