NAIT/Blatchford Market LRT station opens for service

Station represents another step forward in polytechnic's evolution

On Jan. 20, the LRT travelled to NAIT as it has since its first trip from downtown Edmonton to Main Campus on Sept. 6, 2015.

But it stopped about 300 metres further down the track at an expansive, modern-looking platform constructed of glass and black paneling. Across the new station’s facade, lit in white and visible from a distance, is the name “NAIT/Blatchford Market” – a marker of the connection between the polytechnic and the developing neighbourhood to the west.

The opening marks the end of Phase 1 of the Metro Line LRT extension – completed more than a year earlier than expected and on budget. NAIT station, originally built as a temporary structure on the southern edge of campus, is now closed, making way for a new era of accessibility, convenience and comfort.

view of track of nait/blatchford market station, edmonton, alberta

NAIT Students’ Association president Tyleen Saison has taken the LRT to campus since beginning her studies as a Digital Media and IT student. She welcomes the development and feels other students will too.

Until now, the main drawback of the train for Saison was that the old station “was much too small,” she says.

“It could only accommodate three cars, and with more and more students coming back on to campus after COVID [restrictions], we're really seeing the impact of that. If you're ever on the train at 7:45 a.m., it is absolutely packed.”

Saison believes more space will make for a more comfortable and safer ride.

map of nait main campus including nait/blatchford market lrt stationShe also sees the benefits to future students and the development of NAIT itself, a view shared by Eduardo Sosa, associate vice-president of Facilities Management and Development.

“By being able to welcome more students to NAIT in an easier and more efficient manner, we can continue to grow our campus and program offerings,” says Sosa.

“It is very exciting because this station is part of our campus development plan.”

In 2019, NAIT and the City of Edmonton finalized a deal that saw the polytechnic acquire more than 13 hectares on the site for growth.

“It is very exciting because this station is part of our campus development plan,” says Sosa.

Already, he sees how the station, more centralized and well-connected to campus through shared-use paths, will give students greater access to campus, including the Advanced Skills Centre, a proposed teaching complex for skilled trades and technology.

interior ceiling of nait/blatchford market station

Saison knows the location of the new station will take getting used to (perhaps especially during future cold snaps like that of early January). But she likes the idea of students being exposed to parts of campus they might not have had reason to visit previously.

She also likes that it means students won’t likely be battling for early-morning elbow room, and will have more convenient connections to surrounding communities, such as downtown and Edmonton's broader post-secondary network, throughout the day.

“It opens up opportunities,” she says.

Connecting NAIT northward

Phases 2 and 3 of the Metro line will link NAIT’s Main Campus with points north.

The future track will pass through nine stations, first to the proposed Castle Downs Transit Centre then west, where it will tie into the Nakî Transit Centre & Park and Ride at Campbell Road, just south of St. Albert.

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