Touring the Edmonton Transit D.L. MacDonald LRT Garage

Edmonton Transit held an open house today at its D.L. MacDonald facility, known as the LRT garage, as part of Transit Centennial Week celebrations. Sharon and I decided to check it out, and arrived at Clareview just in time for the second last tour. I’ve always been curious to see where the LRT cars are housed and maintained, so I thought the open house and tour was pretty darn cool.

We were led throughout the facility, and got to see where the LRT cars are stored, where their various parts are worked on, where they are painted, etc. The D.L. MacDonald garage is an absolutely massive building, and apparently they are under construction to expand it further. It’s really quite impressive to see.

ETS D.L. MacDonald LRT GarageMack on the new LRV

The highlight of the tour was definitely getting to check out the new SD160 Light Rail Vehicles. ETS will be receiving 37 of them at a rate of two per month, finishing in December 2009. Each car costs approximately $4 million CDN. As the new cars come in from Siemens in Sacramento, the old ones are shipped out for retrofitting. The cost for retrofits is estimated to be another $25 million in total.

At first glance there doesn’t appear to be much difference between the old cars and the new ones, but I’m sure there are extensive differences to the underlying systems (better electronics, for instance). A few of the noticeable changes include: cameras instead of mirrors, digital signs throughout, windows that do not open (which means they must have A/C), more comfortable seats, and slightly different mechanisms on the doors. They also seem a little larger.

The first of the new LRVs will go into service late this year. You can see many more photos of the new cars and the rest of the D.L. MacDonald garage here.

ETS Centennial Week: September 12-20, 2008

edmonton transit Today marks the start of Transit Centennial Week here in Edmonton, celebrating 100 years of public transit in our city. The official proclamation occurred today from 11am until noon at City Hall. All week you’ll be able to find displays, special events, free tours, and more.

The festivities get underway this evening at 7pm in Churchill Square. Local band Shout Out Out Out Out will be on hand along with The Whitsundays and the Trevor Tchir Band.

On September 14th you can see Le Fuzz, Ayla Brook, Manraygun, Ben Sures, and Robin Hunter and Six Foot Bullies, a musical event fit for the entire family. On September 19th at both 8pm and 9:30pm, Rapid Fire Theatre will be performing “Kiss My Bus”, a live play on a bus! They also performed this show earlier this summer at the Fringe festival. The big finale on September 20th will be Movies on the Square presented by ETS.

All week in Churchill Square you’ll be able to find information displays and the Big Tent right in front of City Hall which contains transit artifacts and memorabilia, film footage, and other multimedia displays.

For more information and complete event listings, including free tours and garage open houses, check out the Transit Centennial Week website.

If you’ve never been on the High Level Streetcar before, I’d definitely recommend it. There are free tours from 11am until 4pm on the 13th, 14th, and 20th. I think the D.L. MacDonald garage open house would be pretty neat too (the LRT garage…open house is noon to 4pm on the 20th).