Candidate Responses: What is the most pressing transit need in Calgary

Continuing on our series of blogs about our candidate transit survey, today we are sharing the results of the third question:

What is the most pressing transit issue or need outside your ward?

While we felt it necessary that electors understand candidates views on transit within their ward, it is important to know how candidates understand transit throughout the city. It is easy for any candidate to fight for investment and improvement in their own ward, but it takes leadership to set aside the needs closest to home and do what’s best for the city as a whole. Transit systems are networks, and they cannot be improved effectively through a struggle for resources from disparate interests. A SE LRT not only helps those in Ward 12, but also those in Ward 4. As does a cross-town bus route along 16th avenue north. If we are to build an effective transit system, we need a comprehensive perspective that understands how all the parts work together, and where investment is needed most. We hope our question sheds some light on whether candidates in the election understand this as well.

Here are the results (again, presented unedited and in random order)



Naheed Nenshi: Reliability and crowding are the most pressing concerns. The system is aging, which leads to reliability issues. We are focusing on replacing the oldest vehicles in our fleet of LRT and buses, which is occurring right now – with a $200 million LRV purchase and a $60 million bus order. We also set aside $2 million from 2012 tax room specifically to improve transit reliability. Our LRV purchases as well as LRT platform extensions begin to address the crunch by increasing capacity by 25%. And of course, we need long term, stable, predictable funding to start expanding the system.

John Lord: To build more LRT or add more buses, you need a lot of money. City Council has pretty much blown the budget for that. So, the most pressing need now in order to get more transit, is to get costs under control of our current transit and other areas. Once we can start banking the money again, we can afford to start moving ahead again on Transit expansion


Ward 1

John Hilton-O’Brien: Survey says that safety is a critical issue. Some potential solutions: a) We can probably improve the upkeep of some of our LRT stations (on the “broken window” theory of crime prevention.) b) We can also beef up the availability of support for bus and train drivers in the form of police teams specialized at working with mental health and addictions issues. c) We can continue to improve sight lines at the more complex stations d) We should have a text-based safety reporting system (because people being bullied are NOT likely to use the public intercom). e) Measure and publish response times for transit related police and EMS calls. See my blog at

Ward Sutherland: I feel it is to understand the opportunities how to best service geographic areas of current & emerging high density employment outside of the city center.

Dan Larabie: The issue of transit safety is city-wide. When people are scared to take transit after 6pm there’s a major problem. I want to make our transit system safe by giving police and peace officers the tools they need to do their job effectively. The biggest thing they need are more officers. We are so understaffed in this city it is unbelievable. If we want less crime and safer transit we need more police and peace officers.

Chris Harper: There are improvements that can be made on the service itself, even before implementing
expanded service. I feel the introduction of an electronic fare system such as the Connect
card is critical. Not only does it make it easier for transit users to pay for and use transit, it
would also provide valuable data to Calgary Transit on the use of transit resources. This
would allow service to be more precisely planned based on accurate data ensuring improved
service and greater cost-effectiveness. With a background in information technology systems
implementation, I would diligently steward this effort forward as a member of Calgary City

Judi Vandenbrink: In order to make Calgary Transit more appealing and to increase ridership transit needs to be more consistent and reliable and address rider concerns about public safety and comfort on both the LRT and busses. That means making bus stops more comfortable, and having Transit employees at each LRT station to monitor the actions of the public to be sure they are safe.
Perhaps Calgary should model transit after other cities like Vancouver where there are ticket agents at the stations.


Ward 2

Shawn Ripley: Ultimately the Calgary faces a collective problem in terms of infrastructure. We are expanding so rapidly, both in population and area, that keeping infrastructure adequate to the demands placed upon it is a serious challenge. There are already too many Calgary communities where transit service is thin.

Joe Magliocca: Time would be right up there, but, I do feel that having the SE LRT leg built is needed as that area is growing at an incredible pace. Also having effective transit to the airport like many other metropolitan centres worldwide is also a need

Terry Wong: Two things…spoke and hub model is efficient for inner / outer city travel but very inefficient for crosstown travel (i.e. north quadrant to north; east to east, etc.) as it forces people to use hub to transfer; esp. lacking up center street north to Panorama / Country Hills. Secondly, Park and Ride parking allocation between scramble and reserved; we need more spots and better business plan (i.e. let Calgary Parking Authority manage this on behalf of Calgary Transit or as sole operator).

Bernie Dowhan: Expansion of the C-Train. Determining where to go next is dependent on funding. I think it makes the most sense to head SE. However, the cost-effectiveness of heading SE would need major contributions from other levels of government.

Richard Poon: Need a better tracking mechanism to help passengers to find out when the bus will arrive!


Ward 3

Jim Stevenson: We have built a transit network that is reliant on a hub and spokes philosophy which forces
connectivity through downtown. There must be a better network to connect people to
places/events/people in other quadrants and within quadrants. This can only be accomplished
by better understanding the lives and needs of residents.


Ward 4

Michael Hartford: The City really needs to have the LRT connected directly to the LRT system. If you travel within Europe almost no city’s airport fails to have direct access to the local rail system. It makes it far easier and pleasant to have the access. I would also like to see a high speed system built on a circle route around the city and connecting out to the bedroom communities to help ease the heavy traffic on Deerfoot Tr and other major routes.

Blair Houston: LRT

Gael Macleod: The biggest transit issue facing the City is how to finance continued development and improvement of our transit system. The City of Calgary’s Investing in Mobility report identifies and ranks a series of transit priorities but we can’t afford it all. We need to be clear about our priorities, and make evidence-based decisions about how we spend our limited funds.


Ward 5

Ray Jones: Solving the problems for SE Calgary and Centre ST North, both issues need to be solved and the biggest question is: Where to get the money from to achieve this?


Ward 6

Bob Bowles: The SE LRT.

Richard Pootmans: Lack of capacity

Joe Connelly: SE LRT line and the politics that are clouding that issue


Ward 7

Brent Alexander: While it would run through Ward 7 briefly, the North Central SE LRT route is the single most pressing transit issue outside of Ward 7.

Joylin Nodwell: With a continued population growth to the tune of around 20 000 newcomers each year, Calgary is faced with pressure to accommodate this rapid influx of people. Planners and developers, along with City Council have been working on trying to manage this growth through the Muncipal Growth Plan (MGP). Each year roughly 18 new communities are developed on the outskirts of our City. This has resulted in a huge demand for new infrastructure including Transit. The issue is how to support/fund these new services in the outlying areas.

Druh Farrell: Calgarians want more investment in transit, from 16th Ave NW and 17th Ave SE Bus Rapid Transit to the Southeast Transitway. While the North Central Transitway ranked first in the cost benefit analysis, there is a pressing need to provide transit service to every quadrant. Transit projects will be ranked using cost benefit criteria such as operating and capital costs, travel time savings, support for transit-oriented development, support for asset management, as well as benefits based on environmental and socio-economic factors.


Ward 8

Evan Woolley: Outside of Ward 8, the most pressing transit issue is actually a planning issue: reducing the city’s sprawl. Sprawling and distant suburbs with circuitous roads are almost impossible to efficiently serve with transit. In fact, Portland-based transit expert Jarrett Walker now uses Cranston as an example of how to not design communities for transit.
Calgary Transit is struggling to even provide hourly bus service to many greenfield suburbs and City Hall has created this problem.
Unlike the incumbent John Mar, if elected I will be a staunch ally of Mayor Nenshi in eliminating City subsidies for new suburban developments and will support smart growth. Instead of sending Ward 8 tax dollars to the fringes of the City they should be used improve transit connection between our neighbourhoods.

Ian Newman: I believe getting the Rapid Transit to the southeast is very important.

John Mar: Funding issues aside the next two LRT networks that need to be constructed are the South East LRT (estimated cost of $2.3B) and the North Central LRT (estimated cost $1.6B) Recognising the current financial capacity of the Province of Alberta, I feel that the planning for these lines could be done, along with strategic land acquisitions overtime to ensure that an alignment would be prepared in advance of another major Municipal Sustainability Initiative grant or Federal National Transit Strategy.


Ward 9

Jordan Katz: Centre St North development.

Gian-Carlo Carra: Same as above. Transit is the most significant city-building tool we have. (Editor’s note- see yesterdays blog for Gian-Carlos response to the previous question)


Ward 10

Nargis Dossa: Direct quotes: “Connecting from point A to B within an hour… “ “City too widespread and not keeping up with amenities or good transit system…” “It takes me forever to get to work by public transport whereas only 15 minutes by car from Applewood to Downtown… better off paying parking because bus passes are so expensive anyway…”

Andre Chabot: Servicing the industrial areas for off peak users.


Ward 11

Brian Pincott: The most pressing issue city-wide is the funding of the Transit Strategy. Moving forward with the priority list on the strategy: the cross-town BRT’s and the two new LRT routes, North Central and SE, are key. Taking our transit system to the next step, one where it is a viable and effective choice for Calgarians door to door, is essential.

James Maxim: Completion of the entire main LRT system re: north and southeast legs

Wayne Frisch: Immediate need for expansion of the SELRT.


Ward 12

Stephanie Kusie: I would say bike lanes that are conducive to commuting from all sectors to downtown. Calgarians consider cycling a fundamental form of transportation and I believe many avoid it due to the safety risks presently posed on many roads. Calgarians are active and efficient individuals – they enjoy being outside and many fit their exercise routine into their daily commute.

Shane Keating: Switching from a commuter style of transit to a service style of transit is important outside of Ward 12. Calgarians that take transit should be able to travel to several different points within the city without having to go directly into the core. Calgarians traveling from the West end of town should not have to commute through downtown in order to get to Chinook.


Ward 13

Diane Colley-Urquhart: Replace the 75 U2 trains that break down all the time and compromise timeliness and dependability.

Scott Sorokoski: The whole city faces an issue of trying to efficiently traveling from one destination to another. Having to transfer multiple buses with delays between is not efficient.

Adam Frisch: Enough feeder buses to get to transit and timeliness of transit service throughout the day


Ward 14

Shawn Kao: The SE LRT and its precursor SETWAY are critical to help get South Calgary moving. If we can get cars off Deerfoot, it would ease traffic congestion for residents of Ward 14. Also, transit users in Ward 14 would have more of the city opened to them in terms of work and recreation.

Peter Demong: Same as above…. (Editor’s note- see yesterday’s blog for Peter’s response to the previous question)



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