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Thread: Edmonton's missing Transit Hub

  1. #1

    Default Edmonton's missing Transit Hub

    I've been thinking about this a while, but Edmonton is missing a central transit hub of the sort many other cities have, serving as a gateway destination to the city as well as a single transfer point for multiple modes of transportation. With the current reorganisation of the city's public transit and various ongoing revitalisation projects, I can't help but think there is a missed opportunity to create such a hub.

    The possible modes include, but are not limited to:
    - LRT
    - Regional bus (including BRT)
    - Coach (intercity) bus
    - Intercity (Via) rail
    - Taxi / Ride-sharing
    - Automobile (Park 'n' Ride, Kiss 'n' Ride)
    - Shuttle services (airport, hotels, WEM etc)
    - HSR (potentially)

    The logical starting place would be a central rail station, as is the case in many (if not the majority) of cities the world over. Off the top of my head, there are Toronto's Union station, Ottawa's Via station, Montreal's Central Station or Vancouver's Pacific Central... in Canada alone. These hub stations are strategically located near city downtowns, offer local/regional/national/international transportation options, and have extensive TOD. In short, they are destinations as much as transfer hubs. Unfortunately, Edmonton lost its hub rail stations (but unlike Calgary, not its intercity rail service!) when CN and CPR relocated their yards away from downtown / old strathcona respectively. ETS, the major transit provider in this city, doesn't really have a central hub for its services either - Churchill station is intended to serve as such for LRT but there is no accompanying transit centre for buses. It doesn't have to be a rail station either - San Francisco's Transbay Centre was originally just a bus terminal for instance.

    Nonetheless, the creation of such a hub would require intensive coordination efforts between multiple agencies in both private and public sectors, and the state of affairs in Edmonton is that it is not even being considered at a conceptual stage. Ironically, the closest we have got to one was when Greyhound moved its terminal to the Edmonton Via station. With ETS seriously considering extending LRT/bus service at the time as part of Blatchford, there was actually a real possibility of combining rail, LRT, bus, coach and car-rental services under one roof - within the context (albeit not explicitly planned as a part) of a massive inner-city revitalisation project! Of course, this never happened - Greyhound would go on to scuttle its Western Canada operations and the Metro line opted to parallel 107 St instead.

    Is there a place for such a transit hub in Edmonton? If so, where would it be and what transit modes could it incorporate?
    Last edited by Foolworm; 08-02-2019 at 01:06 AM.

  2. #2
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    I don't see how a logical starting place would be a central rail station when there is no rail service to speak of.

  3. #3

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    If there was a need, it would exist already.

    There is no demand for what you propose.
    Advocating a better Edmonton through effective, efficient and economical transit.

  4. #4

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    For clarity Winnipeg and Halifax also have Central Via train stations.

    Ottawa does not have a central station. Neither does Saskatoon, or Quebec City.

    The stations that do currently continue to exist in DT locations are all beautiful, historic Train stations.


    Edmonton formerly had a DT train station in the basement of the CN tower. It was nondescript though and there wasn't enough impetus from Edmonton or Via to save that. There were also considerable time delays getting into and out of that station back onto the main line.



    There certainly is an increasing demand for Via Rail services in cities and including the West. Although Via seems to put priority on Eastern lines.

    In anycase intercity rail SHOULD be encouraged over intercity air routes. Short hop flights are an abominable waste of fuel.


    With the case of rail travel here in Western Canada its a service that pre-existed to a much greater extent when less people had cars. With less people having cars increasing now its quite possible that the demand for rail travel (affordable) would increase.

    But stations located away from the DT do a great disservice to rail usage. One of the advantages of rail travel is the potential for it to service DT to DT connections. Which saves time and hassle over transfers from out of the way airports.

    One cannot really assess current demand when the current situation (several rail stations not being located DT and poorly serviced with connections) exists. The way to increase rail usage, and we should be interested in that, is to of course increase its convenience.

    Edmontons situation is the worst, and an absolute embarrassment. This being the only city in the nation that doesn't have public transit connections to and from the Rail station. Everytime I'm on a train I feel like apologizing to the many national or international travellers that use the line and embark/disembark at Edmonton's gulag station. (which also takes interminable time to get into and out of as the train backs in from the main line and is also impeded by heavy freight use through Edmonton.
    Last edited by Replacement; 08-02-2019 at 07:48 AM.
    "if god exists and he allowed that to happen, then its better that he doesn't exist"

  5. #5

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    A solution in search of a problem that doesn't exist. This topic has come up at least a handful of times.

  6. #6
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    Edmonton has many smaller hubs like Strathcona, West Edmonton Mall and the International Airport, as well as downtown. It would be difficult to consolidate them into one hub. I think it’s also difficult to change our car culture.
    "Talk minus action equals zero." - Joe Keithley, D. O. A.

  7. #7

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    Time to build a spaceport hub for interstellar traffic. That would surely put Edmonton on the map!
    Advocating a better Edmonton through effective, efficient and economical transit.

  8. #8
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    ^Iconically world-class.
    www.decl.org

    Ottawa-Edmonton-Vancouver-Edmonton

  9. #9

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    And the Arquillians will pay for it!
    Advocating a better Edmonton through effective, efficient and economical transit.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edmonton PRT View Post
    If there was a need, it would exist already.

    There is no demand for what you propose.
    That's a pretty ridiculous statement. If you follow that logic, then Edmonton is currently perfect and has no need of any improvements. After all, if there was a need for any improvements, they'd have happened already, right?

    There are a lot of benefits of well integrated inter-modal transit, but I guess the question is whether it's too late for Edmonton to develop this. Most likely it is, at least when comparing us to something like Union Station. Honestly, if it was going to happen, I think Blatchford would have been our best shot at it. Via already terminates in the area, LRT is planned to pass through, it's pretty central, and it is close to the Yellowhead. If that had been a priority, and all the parties came to the table, it might have been feasible.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Medwards View Post
    A solution in search of a problem that doesn't exist. This topic has come up at least a handful of times.
    Oh no problems here - Edmonton must not be located in the Province of Alberta, but the State of Denial. I suppose its not a problem if you don't want to use the rail service or don't want to stop in Edmonton, but the current arrangement is so far from world class it is embarrassingly bush league.

    Yes, apparently tourists are an afterthought and an inconvenience to this city. Every once in a while some travel writer comes from some place where people actually put some thought into these things and expects to be able to easily get from the train to downtown and instead is stuck in the freezing cold for a long time. Then he or she goes back home and writes a negative review about our city, perhaps read by millions, we are outraged for a week or two and wonder why they were so negative, but soon go back to not thinking about or dealing with improving things. Its easier to do nothing, the small minded, small city outlook is still much more alive in this city than many would care to admit.

  12. #12
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    It’s not all the City’s fault. Take a look at Greyhound, who chose to locate in an industrial area.
    "Talk minus action equals zero." - Joe Keithley, D. O. A.

  13. #13

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    Passenger rail has been in a death spiral since the 1950''s.

    The airliner and highways killed passenger rail and the minute amount of tourist traffic from rail in a year does not amount to a days worth of passenger traffic at EIA.

    This thread is beyond the grasping of demands to keep the municipal airport.

    There is no demand for a rail hub in Edmonton.
    Advocating a better Edmonton through effective, efficient and economical transit.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edmonton PRT View Post
    Passenger rail has been in a death spiral since the 1950''s.

    The airliner and highways killed passenger rail and the minute amount of tourist traffic from rail in a year does not amount to a days worth of passenger traffic at EIA.

    This thread is beyond the grasping of demands to keep the municipal airport.

    There is no demand for a rail hub in Edmonton.


    This is so shortsighted. With obscene fuel expenditures theres no way in the world short hop air travel should even exist. Regional passenger traffic should occur by rail if not by highway.


    I have no idea how people can rationalize short hop air travel in the name of simple convenience. It isn't even that much more, or at all more convenient than DT to DT rail.

    Rail is a pragmatic mode that built this country, is efficient in per passenger fuel expenditure, as well as a relaxed way to travel. I actually prefer rail to air whenever I can.


    More the point with people increasingly not driving, and this being more of a factor in younger generations public modes of transit need to increase, not decrease. Just building more highways is as poor a solution as building more freeways. They just get filled by 1person per vehicle mode inefficient travel.

    For somebody so into public conveyance I find your views on this surprising.
    "if god exists and he allowed that to happen, then its better that he doesn't exist"

  15. #15

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    I support transit that is effective, efficient and economical.

    Intercity rail such as HSR or adding new passenger train lines would be far more costly than adding an extra lane on heavily used highway. Trains do not solve the first mile and last mile problem. Building a train based transportation hub is simply not supported and low usage and high capital costs are serious impediments.

    Let's not revisit the whole HSR debate.
    Advocating a better Edmonton through effective, efficient and economical transit.

  16. #16

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    ^Not sure why you would evoke the first and last mile problem in relation to trains when Airports results in the first and last 20miles problem.


    Edmonton-Red Deer-Calgary is now enough of a population corridor (and rampantly increasing) to be feasible.


    Environmentally its obscene NOT to offer a rail line option for travellers/commuters when air travel to a location involves 10times the emissions/passenger.


    People spend all day here talking about global warming and being concerned about that but when it comes to real options that ARE more efficient than Air or vehicle traffic you say people won't use them.


    Check out the Canadian sometime at Via Rail when its 25 cars long.
    "if god exists and he allowed that to happen, then its better that he doesn't exist"

  17. #17

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    Airports are already a hub with taxi, car, bus and shuttle service.

    For rail, slow rail is a nonstarter. First you have to spend 10 to 25 billion dollars to build a high speed line to Calgary with zero certainty that people will use HSR.

    No one wanted to use the old slow and unprofitable Edmonton Calgary line. I have never seen a 25 car via rail and I don't believe that the Edmonton station is even that long to handle a 24 car consist. How many passengers use VIA as a Edmonton destination, ( not just passing through )? Please post your sourced statistics.

    As you can see from the sourced chart, rail efficiency is all over the spectrum and that is based on train loading.



    If you can pack every 25 car train to capacity and have multiple trips per day, trains are a winner. BUT if you just have a couple of runs per day with only a handful.of riders, rail can be much worse than other forms of transportation.
    Advocating a better Edmonton through effective, efficient and economical transit.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Replacement View Post
    ^Not sure why you would evoke the first and last mile problem in relation to trains when Airports results in the first and last 20miles problem.


    Edmonton-Red Deer-Calgary is now enough of a population corridor (and rampantly increasing) to be feasible.


    Environmentally its obscene NOT to offer a rail line option for travellers/commuters when air travel to a location involves 10times the emissions/passenger.


    People spend all day here talking about global warming and being concerned about that but when it comes to real options that ARE more efficient than Air or vehicle traffic you say people won't use them.


    Check out the Canadian sometime at Via Rail when its 25 cars long.
    Building a whole new rail line is not efficient and very expensive. Using the exisiting frieght line is slow and unreliable. Enviromentally, a new rail corridor (especially if we are considering highspeed) requires fencing and and protection of the right of way the entire length, which causes more barriers to wildlife

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edmonton PRT View Post
    Time to build a spaceport hub for interstellar traffic. That would surely put Edmonton on the map!
    Understandably you were joking, but you are in the right track. Many of us fail to understand that model of hub system was for the 20 century travel. Cities like Edmonton or Calgary are in the crosswind where we don't fit into that model. We are still in young growth stages that, by the time we truly mature, transportation for the mass will no longer be rails, or buses. We won't need that old hub system as we're future cities. In 50 years, Calgary and Edmonton might be classified as one city as "flying cars " would get us there in 15 minutes. A day's travel might be because we're heading to the moon for a weekend, so a space pad is not so far fetched.

    I'm not really interested in building a platform thats won't fit into or becomes obsolete in the short future which long distance rail or busses are. Do we want to waste money so we can feel internal content because our city has what other major centres have. We had that as Greyhound was pretty much kitty corner to Via Station which also encompassed a transit station right in front of CN tower and an LRT central station across the street.
    " The strength of a man is in the stride he walks."

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edmonton PRT View Post
    Airports are already a hub with taxi, car, bus and shuttle service.

    For rail, slow rail is a nonstarter. First you have to spend 10 to 25 billion dollars to build a high speed line to Calgary with zero certainty that people will use HSR.

    No one wanted to use the old slow and unprofitable Edmonton Calgary line. I have never seen a 25 car via rail and I don't believe that the Edmonton station is even that long to handle a 24 car consist. How many passengers use VIA as a Edmonton destination, ( not just passing through )? Please post your sourced statistics.

    If you can pack every 25 car train to capacity and have multiple trips per day, trains are a winner. BUT if you just have a couple of runs per day with only a handful.of riders, rail can be much worse than other forms of transportation.
    I would say YEG would make an excellent transit hub for Edmonton if it were... you know... actually in Edmonton as opposed to Leduc. The thing with airports in general is that they necessarily have to be situated far away from city cores.

    Passenger rail, at least in the Prairies, is unlikely to make a comeback because the existing tracks are owned by and therefore prioritise freight operators (and the cost for laying new track is phenomenal). Take for instance the whole 'oil-by-railcar' business - if being able to ship Alberta's No.1 product to market came at the expense of the Canadian, so be it. On the other hand, regional (as in metro region) rail is a somewhat different beast and definitely has a place in an integrated transit strategy.

    I will however note that the dismal location and transportation options available to people at the Via Edmonton station are a huge turnoff to anyone considering taking the train, all the more so because every other major stop is pretty much located in the core of whichever municipality it happens to be in. And yes, the Canadian does stretch 25 cars long in the prime tourist months.... Two years ago during the sesquicentennial, the trains were packed with people.

    Quote Originally Posted by ctzn-Ed View Post
    In 50 years, Calgary and Edmonton might be classified as one city as "flying cars " would get us there in 15 minutes. A day's travel might be because we're heading to the moon for a weekend, so a space pad is not so far fetched.

    I'm not really interested in building a platform thats won't fit into or becomes obsolete in the short future which long distance rail or busses are.
    That was the vision bandied about 50 years ago and here we are. The logistics of air travel (to say nothing of space travel) make it completely unfeasible for transportation on the personal level (it's not so rocket science as it is the notion of strapping oneself in an oversized, slowly exploding bomb).



    To be honest, Northlands isn't a bad location to re-purpose as a transit hub. With the demise of Greyhound, replacement coach services are needed fast and the government could do worse than provide an incubating space for companies (that is if they don't start one themselves out of sheer necessity).
    Last edited by Foolworm; 11-02-2019 at 02:31 AM.

  21. #21

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    I get the argument, but sooner than later it will change. It was only ten years ago smartphone was released, and we are about to enter 5 G... just food for thought regarding that.

    The reality is, by the time we reach a population to advance rail into self sufficient level, rail would be in the museum. You must have been seeing too much Chinese bullet train developments on YT and feel left out, but they have a population of 1.4 billion that requires current transit modes hence their push. That is pragmatic and respobsible sense. That said, it wouldn't work for us. Canada now has 37 or so million resident in the largest land mass in the world. The area around Hong Kong/Shen Shen/ Macau/ ... alone has a population of over 100+ million residents all within 1.5 hours drive. That is what you compare us too. We fall into the next cusp of transport development mode as by then population can support and stimulate it. Greyhound failed for a reason.
    " The strength of a man is in the stride he walks."

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by ctzn-Ed View Post
    I get the argument, but sooner than later it will change. It was only ten years ago smartphone was released, and we are about to enter 5 G... just food for thought regarding that.
    Agree

    Making a train based transit hub makes no sense since Uber does not need a hub.
    Advocating a better Edmonton through effective, efficient and economical transit.

  23. #23

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    We just don't have the population to warrant this financially or functionally , and I don't care to waste money on a system that will soon become outdated. There will be a different wave and form of hub soon, so wait to build for that instead.
    " The strength of a man is in the stride he walks."

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