Edmonton's LRT on track to turn 40 this weekend

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Edmonton's LRT on track to turn 40 this weekend

Edmonton's LRT on track to turn 40 this weekend

Lloyd Meyer remembers the start of the line 40 years ago.

"We walked into Central Station and it was still under construction and it went as far as Belvedere and we thought, 'Wow, this is amazing,' " Meyer recalls.  

Meyer, now the manager of LRT operations for Edmonton Transit, marvels at the changes.

"When we first started of course there was no such thing as computers. We were still working off typewriters and hand-written logs."

When regular service started in April 1978, the track was 6.9 kilometres long and a monthly pass cost $15.

The city's goal was for Western Canada's first light rail transit to be running in time to take the crowds attending the 1978 Commonwealth Games.

Since then the fleet has grown from 14 cars to 94.

Craig McKeown says while the 40th anniversary is cause for celebration, it also means some of the cars reaching the end of their life span.

"That means maintenance requirements are quite a bit higher," said McKeown, director of engineering and maintenance, who works out of the D. L. MacDonald Garage in northeast Edmonton.

"We are looking at purchasing a new fleet, a renewal fleet, which will likely take place 2025/2026."

Janis Noble hopes to be a part of that future. For the last 24 years she's been the voice of the Edmonton Transit Service lending her golden tones to recording messages for bus link, the LRT and now smart buses.

When transit users find out what Noble does for a living, many have a "meltdown."

"I get these squeals of excitement. It's like, 'You're real, you're a person.' They all think I'm an automated voice but I'm a real person," smiles Noble.

For Noble taking transit is more than just getting from point A to point B.

"I ride the bus everyday. You have your regulars, you talk to the driver, it's a sense of community."

You can see more from the D. L. MacDonald Garage this week on Our Edmonton: Saturday at 10 a.m., Sunday at 4 p.m. and 11 a.m. on Monday on CBC TV.