Leading the Way: LRT Dance Party in Edmonton

Ever wonder what a dance party on the LRT would look like? I had the opportunity last weekend to find out! The Saturday evening activity for delegates of the 2011 Youth Summit on Sustainable Transportation was a DJ Dance Party on a chartered ETS LRT train.

LRT Dance Party

While we were touring the D.L. MacDonald LRT Garage in the afternoon, staff were busy getting the train prepared, adding streamers, disco balls, and lights to the interior. DJ Rob Wong also got setup with all of his gear and two giant speakers, one at each end of the train. After a quick dinner, we all boarded the party train! The train circled the garage a few times, apparently to make the most of our time.

LRT Dance Party

We then travelled the length of the LRT line, from Clareview all the way to Century Park, before travelling back as far as Churchill Station to let some people off downtown. In all, we spent about an hour and half on the train.

The music was loud, and slowly but surely most people started dancing! It was easier than you’d think to dance on the moving train, though whenever there was a sudden jolt it was just another reason for everyone dancing to yell and cheer. There were a few people who chose to just sit through the entire experience. It kind of reminded me of a high school dance in that way – slow to get going, with some people sitting off to the side the entire time.

Here’s DJ Rob doing his thing:

LRT Dance Party

Most of the dancing happened as we passed through a station. People on the platform would look at the train with bewilderment, and occasionally someone would give a thumbs up or clap. Faces filled with confusion just made everyone on the train dance and cheer even more! It became pretty obvious who among us were the exhibitionists. Here’s what it looked like for someone on the platform:

Unsurprisingly, the best part of the trip was the underground portion where it was darker. Tinted windows, dimmed lights, and some…uh, lubricant…would have made the dance party more like a dance party and less like a bunch of people moving around on the train! Maybe I’m just getting old.

That said, it was still a lot of fun. I absolutely love the concept of taking the LRT, normally seen as somewhat mundane (trains just get you from A to B), and using it for a completely different purpose. I think everyone enjoyed themselves! Obviously ETS doesn’t normally charter trains for this purpose, but I think they could if they wanted to. It’s certainly a unique experience!

You can see more photos here, and see more videos here.

Leading the Way: 2011 Youth Summit on Sustainable Transportation

This weekend at the Lister Conference Centre on the University of Alberta campus, about 56 youth from across the prairies and territories are gathered to learn about and discuss public transit and sustainable transportation. Leading the Way is the first regional summit to take place in Canada, other chapters of the Canadian Urban Transit Association will follow suit with their own events later this year.

LTW Youth SummitLTW Youth Summit

The conference kicked off last night with opening remarks from Charles Stolte, Manager of Edmonton Transit and Chair of the Canadian Urban Transit Association. He welcomed everyone and shared a few anecdotes from his many years of transit experience. We also heard from Kevin Joll, Manager of Red Deer Transit. He talked about the organizations Vision 2040, an initiative to define the role of public transit in Canada for a 30-year time horizon. He shared this video with us:

Next up was our keynote speaker, Edmonton City Councillor Don Iveson. He spoke about “making a difference” and shared some of his experiences with bringing the U-Pass to life. He had four main pieces of advice for delegates:

  • Make a strong argument.
  • Be patient.
  • Have fun.
  • Walk the talk.

He noted that it takes time for public transit projects to happen, so even if you make a strong argument you need to be patient. Having fun can help you be patient, and there’s no better way to destroy a strong argument than to not walk the talk!

LTW Youth Summit

His slides were fantastic, and contained lots of little nuggets:

  • “You come out ahead when you invest in public transit.”
  • If everyone around the world lived the way we do in Edmonton, we’d need about 4 planet Earths to sustain ourselves.
  • A bus with 12 people is a better investment than a Prius with 4 people. LRT, of course, is even better.

He closed with his popular video on transportation that uses Lego!

The rest of the evening was devoted to brainstorming on the six major questions posted to delegates. The questions align with Vision 2040, and by the end of the weekend each group is going to have a pitch ready to make in a Lion’s Lair competition. It should be interesting to see what everyone comes up with!

LTW Youth Summit

The conference runs all weekend, and includes tours of the D.L. MacDonald LRT Garage and the new LEED-certified Centennial Garage. There’s also going to be a dance party on a chartered LRT car! You can follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #LTWSummit. I’ll be posting photos of the event here.