40 years ago, if Mayor Ralph Klein listened to the naysayers, we wouldn’t have the LRT system we have today.
It’s interesting and a bit spooky how history has a tendency to repeat itself. The same arguments, the same sentiments, the same concerns of Calgarians are still prevalent now.
I have a lot of hope for the Green Line when I think back to Calgary’s struggles for an LRT system during the 80’s. The economy wasn’t in great shape; a once booming Albertan economy was heavily shaken by the 1980 Oil Crisis which saw the value of oil fall drastically.
But did that stop us? No, we continued to build a future for Calgarians; we continued to prove Calgary’s strong ingenuity and foresight.
Here are some smart words from a smart guy that was very well liked, and although they might be 40 years old, they still ring true today.
“Oman’s comments make it sound as if the economic down turn will last forever and I don’t think that’s the case. The upturn might begin in the next six to eight months. If the province commits itself now to spending money two or three years from now, the city would be in good shape to cope with transportation demands when it’s back in a boom situation.”Ralph Klein, Calgary Herald May 20 1982
“Any project that creates jobs is a benefit to the community.”Ralph Klein, Calgary Herald November 19 1982
Sound Familiar? Ralph Klein had a great vision for Calgary. His vision was one of resiliency and the ability to create jobs. While it may be gradual, after every economic downturn, Calgary has experienced a steady period of growth in the years after.
When we look to the future of Calgary, we also need to look towards the future of transportation. The need of Calgarians for a transit system that links them to citywide opportunities and services will always exist.
Some people may say that folks won’t touch Downtown after COIVD-19, so there won’t be a need for transit. I don’t think a barber can cut you hair over FaceTime, nor could you get a flu shot over the phone.
And while many Calgarians are afforded the ability to work from home, just as many are not.
Building the Green Line will provide transit service for families that cannot afford to purchase another vehicle for their driving-age children to get to school or their part-time job. It will provide transit service for parents who work $15 an hour and cannot afford to pay $10 an hour for parking. It will provide transit service for seniors who live on a fixed income, whose health may not afford them the ability to drive.
Here’s a snapshot of just some of the Calgarians who use transit, and are in desperate need of the Green Line.
When we look to the future of Calgary, transit is key component. All the different reasons and faces of why we need transit will continue through the tough times.
You can always find something wrong with a project, but it doesn’t mean that its not worth doing. The Green Line is part of Calgary’s recovery. Transit ridership will always keep growing – through the good, and the bad.
And if you don’t believe me, then believe Ralph Klein.