What can I say? It’s the end of the line, or the beginning in my case, because I will start my exploration of the new C-Train stations here at 69th St and 17th Ave SW, at the far west end of the new leg of Calgary’s light rail transit (LRT). But don’t let the promise of ample parking fool you, the 700+ parking stalls available in the west parkade and around the east entrance near the bus loop are completely full by mid-morning on a Tuesday. I’m sure this is a sign that Calgarians are embracing their new transit corridor, but it speaks to the need for more capacity and I hope the city can keep up with the demand.
Plan B: I head to the Sirocco Station where there is a park and ride with a 450 additional spaces. At least here I can still find open spots in the reserved section. These stalls become available for general parking after 10 am on weekdays. I take a quick ride west and begin to explore the 69th St. Station as planned.
I drove past the 69th Street construction site fairly often over the past couple of years and I assumed from the size of the hole that this station was completely underground, but even though parts of the track run under street level, the platform area is not completely covered. The entrances at each end of the platform are heated though, as are many of the shelters around the bus loop. Good thing during a Calgary winter. The west line has been operating for over a month, but the place still has that new construction smell. In fact, construction barriers still exist around the station as workers put the finishing touches on the area. Some things like landscaping will not be completed until spring.
Even without the finishing touches, the design elements of the station are obvious. Someone decided these new stations should look good as well as being functional. Only time will tell if the elliptical shape of the stations or the combination of copper and glass will function as promised, but at least the station is pretty. Yes, I said it—I think this station is pretty—not grand or majestic, but better than just ‘nice’ and the simple curves will probably prove timeless. The ‘prettiness’ even extends to the parkade where the addition of curved accents and nighttime lighting elevates a potential eyesore to something interesting.
Inside each entrance the space is wide open with plenty of light and glass and those delightful pay stations. Much like the parkade, I wonder if there is enough capacity at the payment kiosks to handle the high volume traffic of peak hours, but I have no intention of visiting the LRT during rush hour to find out.
And then there are the stairs—at least 40 steps from street level down to the platform. I’m no slouch, and I believe that people should get more exercise, but I know that a long flight of stairs like this is not for everyone. My mother would have trouble going down that many steps with her bum knee and the escalator only goes up. The elevator is available, with its call button and handicapped access sign, but my mother does not consider herself ‘disabled’ and would stubbornly attempt the steps at least once. A ramp would be nice, but we can’t have everything, and maybe I’ll convince Mom to visit one of the other stations instead.
Parking issues aside, I like this station. It makes sense. It’s close to schools and colleges and the Westside Recreation Center. I may come back to explore the surrounding areas some time in the future, but for now I’ll stick to the stations themselves, next stop Sirocco.
Check out the City’s infographic videos if you like, they have interesting information about the new LRT line and the individual stations.