A Future Map for Calgary Transit?

Over the last few posts we have looked at how branding a transit network can create clarity for passengers. Perhaps the greatest part of creating this clarity is providing a clear and concise transit map. Our earlier critique (admittedly somewhat unfair) of Calgary Transit’s map was that it was complex and confusing. The unfairness was because we weren’t exactly making an equal comparison. What we should have done, as suggested by some comments, was to compare the C-Train map (not the entire system map) to other similar maps, such as the Madrid Metro.

Admittedly, the C-Train map is much more concise than we gave credit for. As well, Calgary Transit has recently launched a revised C-Train map, which provides some more useful information than before (in our opinion at least). Right now the map is still in draft form, and Calgary Transit is asking for feedback. You can fill out the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CTrainMap

The map, while quite clear, lacks in one regard- there aren’t that many lines on it. To be fair, that is because Calgary only has two LRT lines currently (and an extension of one line planned), so there isn’t much to put on the map.

But what if there was more to the LRT network in Calgary? What if new lines were built to serve other areas of the city? What if a series of rapid bus lines complemented these LRT lines, providing access to hospitals, universities, business parks and other important areas of our city? In short, what does the future hold for our primary transit network?

We have given this some thought (and you can see some earlier versions of our ideas here: http://www.civiccamp.org/2011/09/the-calgary-transitcamp-vision-the-plan/), and what better way to share these thoughts with you than with a map:

We will leave you with just the map for now, so you may ponder the network we have imagined. In future blog posts we will look at how such a network can be implemented and enhanced to meet the future needs of our city.

As always, comments are most welcome. Let us know what you think of our proposed network, what you like, or don’t like, what has been missed or what you think can be modified.

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6 thoughts on “A Future Map for Calgary Transit?

  1. I like the basic ideas of this. I have ended up writing a rather long collection of comments, though…

    I think your map could use some refinement, but I won’t spend too much time on that. A bit of change in the colours (shades that are easy on the eye; possibly not using brown, instead silver or grey; “Magenta line or “Pink line” are a bit of a mouthful) and stations (should be more visible than a small black dot, maybe acircle with a thinner line than your inerchange stations) would go a long way towards providing a good example. You have missed the station on the NE line between Stoney and Skyview, and the station in Seton after South Hospital. As well, even though it makes it easier to fit the names in horizontally, I don’t think the map should be compressed vertically as much as it is. Calgary is a very N-S city, so the more distorted the map is, the less it functions as a representation of the city.
    I agree with having NW-S be blue and NE-W be red, as opposed to Calgary Transit’s plans of having them the other way around.

    Regarding the network itself, there are a few holes where some sort of crosstown connector could be used. There is no crosstown from the interchange station at Brentwood in the NW to anywhere in the North Central (maybe send it to Aurora Park interchange station; CT just introduced Route 8, and then upgraded it to all-day service, between those areas). The dashed blue line from Westbrook north is more important than other, more certain, parts of the network. And, in the previous Transitcamp map, a connection was provided from Rundle to the 52 St BRT/Magenta line. Some future ideas to consider would be connections between Woodbine, Anderson, and Douglasdale, as well as Bowness or Montgomery to Brentwood or Dalhousie.

    I’m going to be a bit picky about station names. I see you have removed a lot of extra wording from the names. If you could convince Calgary Transit that this is a good idea, there are places where station names are unnecessarily long and complicated (eg. Somerset, Fish Creek, Bridgeland, possibly SAIT) and would be less confusing if made simpler. In other cases (Victorai Park Stampede, Erlton Stampede, Barlow Max Bell, Shaganappi Point, Saddletowne, possibly several of the SE stations where you cut the name in half) the station is made more confusing by omitting important information from the name. Expanding that idea to the BRT, all the hospitals should include the word ‘Hospital’ in the name, schools such as ‘McNally’ and ‘Pearson’ should have their full name, and so should the Genesis Centre. The station on the North Central LRT between Highland Park and Huntington shouldn’t be called ‘McKnight’ even if it ends up anywhere near the road McKnight. I don’t think Calgary has the right naming mentality for two McKnight stations. In cases where we are going to use the major road for the station name, 16th Ave N should be the transfer station and Crescent Heights the station south of it.

    This plan by Transitcamp, and the Calgary Transit BRT plan that it is based on, are both good ideas, if you were to implement them as on-street BRT now, and expand to grede separated BRT later. In other words, it is a good plan for the core of a network. I was at Jarret Walker’s presentation, and I agree with a grid of high frequency routes, and I agree more every time I go to central Vancovuer or Toronto and use their grid. This network shouldn’t ever be thought of as everything we need, but should be thought of as the core of what we need right now. I wouldn’t mind of Calgary Transit took some service hours from some of their more redundant suburban routes towards implementing these as on-street BRT, to test potential ridership of all these routes.

    And finally, a pet peeve of mine, in the category of naming of stations, is when people put an apostrophe in Lions Park. Maybe because it’s the station I use most often…

  2. I think it wouldn’t hurt to superimpose the map on top of a simplified map of the city, allowing a better idea of where what stop is.

  3. Nice work on the map, a few comments based solely on my opinions:

    1) It would be a good idea to have ‘zones’ like many European cities have. That way its proportionately more expensive to ride in from Crowfoot than Sunnyside. I think Zone 1 and Zone 2 would suffice

    2) Too many stations on some legs like the Bowness West line. I agree its ideal to have stations within walking distance to any home, but the cost to build and cost in time to travel the lines may make it unbearable.

    3) A Northwest transfer station after Sunnyside would be a good idea. Taking that leg I see how many people get off at the first few stops downtown. With the current map you would have a good walk to backtrack, or you would have to get off at Sunnyside. A transfer station on 7th ave would be idea, hopefully this would be a subway transfer station.

    4) Since most Train commuting is for working in the core, I think lines like the Pink line would be a waste of money. Those areas are very spare and the residents would probably drive to terminus stations that go directly into the core anyways.

    Just my two cents.

    • Great thoughts T.

      1. The idea of zones is definitely something to consider, and perhaps a broader discussion of that needs to happen.
      2. The stop spacing on the Bowness West line is around 800m-1200m between stations,sometimes more. You are right in that this increases travel times and operational costs (and station costs depending on how much investment is put into stations). Some stops may be eliminated to help improve this. The next blog post will discuss stop spacing and ways to improve some existing routes in the City.
      3. I am not clear about what you mean by a transfer station after Sunnyside (i.e. do you mean further north on the line, such as at Lions Park, or closer to downtown, such as at 8th street?). Perhaps there is some confusion because the map does not fully illustrate the downtown well.
      4. Not all lines are necessarily train lines. These could be rapid bus lines (with dedicated bus lanes), or even limited stop bus service. The idea would be to have frequent and fast service, and the technology (i.e. bus vs train) would be more a matter of the capacity requirements of the route.

      Peter

  4. I wonder if the idea of a circle route or loop would make sense in rail. Much like the 20 or 73. Where a rail loop could define a service area with buses feeding in a hub and spoke fashion. Might be an idea worth playing with.

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