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Convenient, safe, comfortable: First impressions from Valley Line Southeast commuters

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Early reviews are in from professional commuters using Edmonton's newest LRT line.

CTV News Edmonton interviewed several people who took the Valley Line Southeast LRT to or from 102 Street Tuesday morning.

The majority of feedback was positive. 

"It's doubled the quality of life," Doug Brinkman said. "I don't own a car, I don't ride a bike; I walk. And this has opened up the doors for me, in southeast Edmonton, to services [and] stores that I wouldn't normally have downtown." 

Mike Siebert, who works out of the Enterprise Square business hub on Jasper Avenue, added, "I actually moved to Bonnie Doon when it was supposed to happen last summer, so I was very excited for it to open then and I'm really excited to have it running now."

Mill Woods resident Kaylie Davies-Brown had a similar story. 

She estimated she has spent $700 in the last three months parking downtown daily. Also considering the fuel expense, she had been eagerly waiting for service to start. 

"I have been waiting years, honestly," she said. 

Tuesday was only the second weekday the line was in service, having opened on Saturday to hundreds of transit enthusiasts who marked the occasion with music and cake

Although its opening was delayed for three years, the riders CTV News Edmonton spoke to weren't dwelling on that. 

"Nothing's ever perfect; nothing's ever on time. But it's here now so we should appreciate it," Diane Spence said. 

"I'm letting it go because of the convenience that it provides right now," Davies-Brown told CTV News Edmonton. 

A person watches a Valley Line Southeast train arrive at the downtown 102 Street stop on Nov. 6, 2023. (CTV News Edmonton / Matt Marshall)

"If they had an issue, they need to resolve it before the persons enter the trains because safety is priority," an international NorQuest College student, Harmanbreet Singh, commented. 

When he moved to Edmonton about a year ago, Singh took buses to get to school. Often, weather would cause hiccups in the schedule and leave him late for classes. 

"When there was the first snow, I saw two buses who crashed due to the snow. But as compared to buses, this is safest in the winter especially," Singh said. 

Davies-Brown added: "I can imagine in the winter, I don't need to be stuck in traffic for like an hour and a half on my way home. That's going to be huge." 

But Spence believes buses are faster for her, as there is a stop closer to her house than the LRT line. 

She also hopes to see more pedestrian crosswalk signs put up. 

Otherwise, her evaluation was: "It's comfortable, it's cozy and it's very new and nice. .. Very nice view." 

None of the commuters reported any safety concerns. 

"It's been pretty smooth sailing so far. Obviously, time will tell but seems pretty safe and seems like they've done their due diligence after finding those initial flaws," Siebert said. 

The line is expected to carry 30,000 passengers daily between downtown Edmtonton and Mill Woods.

A city official could not say on Tuesday how many people used the line in its first four days of operation, but that monthly ridership data would be provided through Edmonton Transit Services. 

The project was a private-public partnership endeavour between the City of Edmonton and TransEd Partners, which was not only responsible for designing and building the line, but is also responsible for its maintenance for three decades. 

Valley Line Southeast cost $1.8 billion. 

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jessica Robb and Matt Marshall 

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