Edmonton Transit Service highlights history at 40th anniversary LRT celebration

Displays and demos draw crowds to D.L. MacDonald Garage

Visitors tour Edmonton Transit Service’s first LRT car (#1001) during a 40th anniversary celebration at the D.L. MacDonald Garage. (CBC)

Public transit enthusiasts didn’t need a ticket to get a behind-the-scenes look at Edmonton’s light-rail-transit system on Saturday.

Edmonton’s LRT turned 40 last month and ETS marked the occasion this weekend with a free event at the D.L. MacDonald Garage in northeast Edmonton.

At the maintenance yard, families and curious commuters looked at historical displays, stepped in old cars and spoke with dozens of staff who keep the system on track.

“It’s a pretty momentous day for us,” ETS branch manager Eddie Robar told CBC News Saturday.

The LRT opened on April 22, 1978, coinciding with the Commonwealth Games.

That was just one year after Lloyd Meyer started working for ETS as an operator. He began driving LRT trains in 1981 and has since become the manager of LRT operations.

Meyer called his colleagues the best part of his career.

“It’s a great family feeling here — a team effort,” he said, “whether it be track crew, maintenance personnel, our operators, the office staff… that’s what keeps me coming back, day after day.”

From handwritten train logs to the system’s first computer, Meyer has watched the LRT evolve over the years.

“Technology is the one big thing that has changed the most,” he said.

There are more changes ahead, from the construction of new lines to a replacement fleet of cars.

“It’s pretty exciting to be a part of, over this next 20 years,” Robar said.

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