Candidate Responses: Innovative Ideas and the Role of Transit

For our final installment of our municipal election 2013 candidates survey we are going to post the responses to our final two questions:

What is your most innovative idea for improving transit in Calgary?


What is the role of transit in Calgary?

These are important questions. The first question speaks to a candidates understanding of transit issues, but also their ingenuity in an environment of constrained funding. The second question really gets to the heart of the candidates understanding of transit. Is transit just something used to ease congestion? Or is it something used to provide mobility to those who do not drive a private vehicle? Is transit something that is used to move as many people as efficiently as possible, or is the goal to provide an basic level of service regardless of ridership? The differences between these roles in fundamental to understanding how to build the type of transit system we need to continue to be a successful transit city and improve upon that success.

Here are the results:



Jon Lord (Innovative Idea): I introduced Telework concepts to the City in 1998, well ahead of the curve, and still believe that much of Calgary could be teleworking more than they are. More people working at home on the computers would reduce traffic congestion, air pollution, gas consumption, and reduce cattle-car crowding on current transit, making it more attractive for many. You could reduce the rush hour down to more manageable levels, reducing travel times and increasing productivity of people who otherwise would be stuck in their cars wasting time. There are many benefits to telework.

Jon Lord (Role of Transit): Moving people back and forth from work at the downtown factories, same as it was in the 1800’s. Time to change – modern manufacturing can be done at home, shopping can be done at home, and transit must become a more useful benefit to our citizens in other ways.

Naheed Nenshi (Innovative Idea): I was pleased to spearhead the creation of RouteAhead, the 30-year plan for Calgary Transit. Surprisingly, there had never been a long-term plan before. There are many innovative ideas embedded in RouteAhead, most of which I can’t take credit for, but I am very excited about the vision of primary transit routes running north and south, east and west across the city, not just to downtown. All we need now is many billions of dollars. But I like a challenge. One of the things I’m most interested in is the possibility of real-time arrival information system wide. The ability to access real-time information on your mobile device in an easy-to-use interface has the possibility to dramatically change and improve how citizens experience transit. I am also very pleased to have led the implementation of the Route 300 BRT to the airport, which has also eased the crowding along the busy Centre Street corridor.

Naheed Nenshi (Role of Transit): Transit is the solution to so many issues of urban life: enhancing mobility, easing congestion, improving air quality and increasing social mobility so that those who can’t afford to drive can be full participants in the community. When it works well, it’s just a part of living in a city for everyone – rich and poor, young and old – see it as a desirable choice. For that to work, it has to be convenient, affordable, welcoming, clean, safe, and pleasant.


Ward 1:

John Hilton O’Brien (Innovative Idea): Shared-ride systems like Access Calgary can be expanded. Consider a form of shared-ride system available to the general public – a sort of cross between a bus and a taxi, where you book rides which are shared with other commuters for a higher rate than a bus but lower than a cab.

John Hilton O’Brien (Role of Transit): Transit is part of a spectrum of transportation which also includes walking, bus, train, and cab. It needs to be seen as part of a complete solution. It should be possible to use it as the primary form of transportation for all necessary activities, even if people do not necessarily do so. This does not mean that we need to coerce people to use transit instead of private vehicles: rather, we should make transit a convenient, cheap, and viable option for everyone.

Dan Larabie (Innovative Idea): We should make city councillors ride it on a regular basis so they can see and feel the safety concerns of the riders and drivers. It’s easy to make transit decisions from the comfort of the council chamber. It’s another thing to ride it and feel the reality of taking the transit system after 6pm.

Dan Larabie (Role of Transit): The role of transit is to transport Calgarians throughout the city safely, efficiently and for a reasonable price.

Ward Sutherland (Innovative Idea): It’s not an innovative idea but a perspective. All most 87% of Calgarians choose to live in planned communities outside of the city core and that fact may not change significantly in the near future. Our challenge is how best provide them with viable opportunities to choose transit for their work commute.

Ward Sutherland (Role of Transit): To provide residents of Calgary with options on how they can commute within Calgary based on their needs and manage it effectively from an infrastructure & operating cost standpoint.

Chris Harper (Innovative Idea): Innovation is sometimes simply about using what we already have in new ways. Efforts such as the natural gas pilot project and introduction of GPS technology on transit are some efforts
where we can reduce our environmental and cost impacts of providing transit service, while improving customer service and transit predictability. I’m very interested in seeing GPS introduced onto transit assets so that mobile phone users can get a reliable read on when their transit ride will arrive. Reliability will increase when the arrival of transit is predictable, and GPS will provide this.

Chris Harper (Role of Transit): Public transit in Calgary has several roles it plays. With limited land available for the purpose of transportation in general, public transit enables the movements of more residents with reduced demand on transportation infrastructure. It also ensures that those without vehicles are able to be mobile within the city, a key element of ensuring our local economy has access to labour. The key to ensuring these roles are satisfied is design. More public transit will not in itself create less demand for vehicles or greater efficiency in mobility. The public transit system must also be designed so that it is the path of least resistance when an individual is deciding how to move from point A to B.

Judi Vandenbrink (Innovative Idea): We need to address the safety concerns of transit passengers by adding safety switches beside each seat or having cameras in each railcar so that there is immediate access for help in unsafe situations. There should also be similar systems on busses.
We need to build dedicated bus lanes to keep busses on time. This is crucial during the winter months when passengers are left in the bitter cold waiting for busses.


Ward 2

Terry Wong (Innovative Idea): Third Party transit system in developing communities to Calgary Transit BRT and LRT hubs. Ridership would find this seamless but more available. Third party would find this cost efficient and increase market potential of their land. Calgary Transit will have increased ridership albeit cost would be borne by CT and revenues accrued to 3rd Party. Secondly, we need to investigate getting our tax share of CT operating costs from out of town users on the LRT and buses and the CT Park and Ride. This can be done without expensing Calgary riders by using ParkPlus system and scanning for out of city users (ps. You can also avoid provincial registry charges by purchasing the registry database and loading data onto CPA ParkPlus system)

Terry Wong (Role of Transit): Prime role / mandate for CT is moving people across Calgary. They should consider getting out of the parking business; move this to Calgary Parking Authority.

Joe Magliocca (Innovative Idea): Dialogue. Communication with my constituents in Ward 2 as they are coming up with some great issues at the door. I am also a strong advocate of continuing the Calgary Transit Customer Advisory Group which includes important discourse on things such as the following: Communication of service delays or change, Calgary Transit website, including trip planning function, cleanliness, upkeep, quality and safety of Calgary Transit facilities, fare payment system, customer service protocols, new technology and other innovative practices related to customer experience such as mobile device applications, GPS, etc. and enforcement and safety on Calgary Transit.

Joe Magliocca (Role of Transit): Calgary Transit plays a serious role in our city. This multi-role includes, but, is not limited to the following 4 points:
1. Access – Transit helps move those who do not own motorized modes of transportation, can’t transport themselves or wish to avoid the log jam called rush hour.
2. Environmental Concerns – There are those in Calgary who purposely travel in this public manner to reduce what they feel is their “carbon foot print”. They also feel that reducing personal motorized modes of transportation will result in cleaner air and reduced noise.
3. Saves Individual Monies – I have spoken to some that have said with the ever increasing price of fuel and Insurance that public transit is giving them a better quality of life. Also, by not having a car they no longer have a regular maintenance cost and have used their saved money for family trips and wants and needs around their household.
4. Reduce Stress On The Public Purse -Many have communicated that the less cars on the road = less roads and maintenance for both the municipal and provincial level of governments and less of a demand on the taxpayer.

Shawn Ripley (Innovative Idea): We need to work on moving people more efficiently around the communities they live in, and not just in and out of downtown and the C-train stations. People don’t just need to get to work, they need to get to their groceries, recreation centres and parks.

Shawn Ripley (Role of Transit): Transit provides an essential role in Calgary as a successful city. It moves people around at an affordable cost, at in a volume that cannot be managed by single vehicles, and has positive environmental impacts. As our city continues to grow we need to make sure transit is able to continue to provide the mobility people need to be able to live their lives.

Richard Poon (Innovative Idea): Use GPS technology to report the locations of all buses on the road and passengers can use their smartphone to track where is bus and when it will arrive

Richard Poon (Role of Transit): Provide commuting services to whom needed most on a punctual basis.

Bernie Dowhan (Innovative Idea): My innovative idea will definitely generate discussion. Borrowing from Lausanne, Switzerland; my idea centers around mobilizing the C-Train for use after midnight on Friday and Saturday nights. To assist with the lack of taxis at this time, run special trains when bars are closing. Using these trains as a passenger would cost extra (2x to 3x) to deal with the extra security needed on each individual train to deal with the inebriated crowd. Taxis could then transport from the stations to peoples homes instead of heading back to downtown for another fare. This innovative idea will hopefully result in less DUI’s and better taxi service.

Bernie Dowhan (Role of Transit): The role of transit is Calgary is to provide a reliable and affordable way of transporting citizens in this city. The experience must be safe and clean.


Ward 3

Jim Stevenson (Innovative Idea): We are presently exploring a P3 project with the federal government that would see Calgary’s bus network turn to natural gas as a fuel source.

Jim Stevenson (Role of Transit): Calgary Transit must provide options for all residents, offering both connectivity and ease of use.


Ward 4

Gael Macleod (Innovative Idea): I think it is essential that we use the most up to date information about innovative transit options that are a good fit for Calgary. We also have to implement both short and long term solutions to ensure we are making transit more accessible to Calgarians. The Centre Street Transitway is a great example of innovation. It is a bridge between the current transit routes that are very close to capacity against the longer term goal of an LRT. It is a solution to the challenges of Ward 4 residents in getting to and from the downtown core every day.

Gael Macleod (Role of Transit): I think it is essential that we use the most up to date information about innovative transit options that are a good fit for Calgary. We also have to implement both short and long term solutions to ensure we are making transit more accessible to Calgarians. The Centre Street Transitway is a great example of innovation. It is a bridge between the current transit routes that are very close to capacity against the longer term goal of an LRT. It is a solution to the challenges of Ward 4 residents in getting to and from the downtown core every day.

Michael Hartford (Innovative Idea): I would like to see a high speed raised transit system put in to circle the city and connect the bedroom communities around Calgary. The stations, particularly those connecting to the LRT, could be built along the lines of NYC’s Grand Central station with full shopping, restaurants, parking and shelters for transferring trains or busses. This would help drive traffic out to some of the larger shopping centers in the area as well the communities even driving up property values in said communities. With that in mind it would be more than fair to have them build the sections and stations servicing them while using money from the provincial and federal governments to assist Calgary in building the primary tracks. With the addition of cars with built-in pay lockers bikes and skis/snowboards could be taken out to Banff and such ski/hike/mountain biking communities. Fees, of course, would be higher but those could be kept down with the retail rents from the major stations.

Michael Hartford (Role of Transit): To assist Calgarians to get around in a more cost effective manner and help reduce congestion on our roads and pollution from the city’s vehicles.

Blair Houston (Innovative Idea): Talking with the communities and finding a more effective use of planning. There is so much waste and if the City wants people to use Transit, they must plan each community accordingly. Planning, Planning and Community Consultation

Blair Houston (Role of Transit): To transport people effectively around the city.


Ward 5

Ray Jones (Innovative Idea): Introducing the Low Income Transit Bus Passes for all low income Calgarians rather than only certain groups.

Ray Jones (Role of Transit): To provide a safe, affordable and efficient service to Calgarians.


Ward 6

Richard Pootmans (Innovative Idea): Encouraging employers to enable staff to travel at off peak hours when we have more capacity Encouraging people to work from home or elsewhere 1 day per week to reduce congestion Moving to shuttle service where possible to reduce noise

Richard Pootmans (Role of Transit): To enable people to travel safely and efficiently for work and personal travel

Joe Connelly (Innovative Idea): # 1 we should keep the LRT lines open later on Friday and Saturday nights so it provides an alternative to cabs (which are impossible to get).
#2 Put undercover security on the line, get more cameras in the area and increase the fare sweeps.

Joe Connelly (Role of Transit): Move people/viable alternative to driving

Bob Bowles (Innovative Idea): Flying cars. Seriously, rush hour is now 7-10 am and 3-7 pm. God forbid there is an accident on a main road and you can add another hour. If we make it more attractive for large companies to move out of the DT core (such as Imperial Oil moving to Quarry Park) we might relieve some congestion.

Bob Bowles (Role of Transit): It is all about mobility, getting people from A to B as quickly and painlessly as possible. This is a long term problem that requires serious study by people who truly understand the issues and implications.


Ward 7

Joylin Nodwell (Innovative Idea): Introducing fares based on the distance traveled and revisit the implementation of an electronic fare system (card) to replace paper tickets (saving costs, being eco friendly, and adding convenience to riders). Users can swipe their electronic cards upon boarding and exiting transit.

Joylin Nodwell (Role of Transit): Transit plays a critical role in Calgary’s ongoing sustainable transportation issue. The more we can encourage people to consider alternate ways to get around our City, the less dependence we will have on our cars. Promoting ridership, will have positive impact on our city’s traffic situation. Make Transit user friendly!

Druh Farrell (Innovative Idea): The RouteAhead strategy includes creative engagement tools for asking Calgarians how they think we can improve transit. One tool, the engagement bus, provided transit employees with input from citizens as they rode the routes with the transit team. For the future of transit in Calgary, one of the most innovative ideas yet to be explored is urban gondola technology.

Druh Farrell (Role of Transit): The role of transit is to provide safe, affordable transportation choices to Calgarians as a viable alternative to driving. Encouraging more people to choose transit will help address other community concerns, such as cut-through traffic, road congestion, and parking. A successful transit system also provides mobility to people of all ages and incomes, who are unable or cannot afford to drive their own vehicle.

Brent Alexander (Innovative Idea): A single reloadable multi model form of payment across both private (Taxi’s, car co-ops, car share programs, parking) and public forms of transit (buses, LRT). It would reduce the silo nature of how individuals view their personal transportation decisions and likely improve the diversity of their choices.

Brent Alexander (Role of Transit): The whole role of cities in society is to connect people better. More people in “one” place allows for more innovation, services and relationships to flourish. Transit plays an indispensible role in allowing cities to function well and to allow people to stay connected. If we eliminated transit, Calgary would grind to a halt due to gridlock and people would be far less mobile, with fewer options on how to maintain the mobility of their families, having to rely strictly on private vehicles.


Ward 8

Ian Newman (Innovative Idea): I don’t have any real innovations to our transit system in my bag of tricks, but I would like to see us continue to push our Transit Payment System and Pass System into the 21st century. I also believe we need to look outside of the box in how we deliver safety on our trains and buses.

Ian Newman (Role of Transit): To get people from where they are, to where they need to be in a safe and economical manner.

John Mar (Innovative Idea): As an Inner City Alderman, I have worked with Beltline as well as Business Revitalisation Zones to support the Inner City Transit loop and the return of electric street cars to Ward 8. As Alderman, I fought to ensure that this is now part of the Route Ahead Strategy, our 30 year vision for Public Transportation in Calgary.
Using the Pearl District of Portland, Oregon as inspiration, the reintroduction of Street Cars will allow for increased mobility, as well as provide assurance to development creating the ideal conditions for increased mixed use, midrise construction along traffic corridors and between transit oriented development nodes like West Brook as envisioned by the Calgary Transportation Plan and the Municipal Development Plan.

John Mar (Role of Transit): Transit, like all other departments of the City of Calgary is designed to serve the Citizens.
Our Calgary Transportation Plan calls for the development of a Primary Transit Network which provides the citizen with a safe, affordable and reliable mode of transportation citywide. Individuals with predictable schedules can utilise transit to safely and efficiently to avoid traffic congestion, freeing up additional roadway for less flexible commuters, whilst reducing green house emission. Additionally, citizens who elect to use public transit, will include seniors who cannot or no longer choose to drive, as well as youth and lower income citizens, can all use public transportation which increases our mobility, reduces congestion and wear and tear on our infrastructure.

Evan Woolley (Innovative Idea): I’ve got lots. Here are a few:
● Distance-based fares – a one stop C-Train ride from Sunalta to downtown costs the same fare as a 90 minute LRT and bus trek from Mahogany in the deep southeast to the city centre. This is unfair to Ward 8 transit riders, fares should be based on the distance travelled.
● Electronic Fare Payment – Calgary Transit has a great opportunity to include “tap in tap out” technology in its new electronic fare payment system. Riders would tap their fare card on the way on and off the bus or LRT. This would allow for distance based fares and also provide the City with a wealth of data on how Calgarians are using transit which will lead to better service.
● Hold an international competition for ideas for transit connections between Westbrook Mall and the Foothills Hospital – the Westbrook mall area has huge potential to become a mid-town hub for west Calgary. The Route Ahead plan, which I support, calls for a “new technology” to Westbrook Mall with the Foothills Hospital. Instead of imposing a solution onto the community, I propose a huge public engagement program and international competition to define what the future of transit could look like in west Calgary. No idea should be left off of the table from LRT to urban gondolas.
● Get the inner city transit loop / streetcar study included in the RouteAhead plan – inner city transit improvements will never happen unless we are able to get them on the City’s 30 year prioritized transit infrastructure list.
● Install washrooms at key LRT stations – I also care about the basics!

Evan Wooley (Role of Transit): All world-class global hubs are supported by strong transit systems. Continually improving our transit system is vital to making Calgary an even more vibrant and sustainable city. Instead of spreading out transit thinly across the City, we need to concentrate it along routes and neighbourhoods where it can become the transportation of choice. For me this would require bus service at least every 10 minutes along key routes.
We must also realize that transit is an essential service for many Calgarians and therefore low-income transit passes, accessible transit and providing a basic level of transit service is important


Ward 9

Jordan Katz (Innovative Idea): Discounted rates for veterans.

Jordan Katz (Role of Transit): To provide transportation options to people who lack vehicles and to provide alternatives to people with cars.

Gian-Carlo Carra (Innovative Idea): My approach to transit is traditional and very different from what is conventional today. I believe we need to deeply integrate our transit decisions with our land-use decisions. We’ve already started to do some of this, The Route Ahead, Calgary’s first strategic 30 year plan for transit set the stage for that transition. NextCITY (the transformation of our planning processes) has to potential to achieve it.

Gian-Carlo Carra (Role of Transit): Currently transit in our city enjoys its success due to its role as a pressure-release for our overtaxed automobile commuter system. I believe the best role for transit in the future is to a) continue to serve commuters, but more importantly, b) to establish a new customer-base of lifestyle transit users.


Ward 10

Nargis Dossa (Innovative Idea): Maybe use Toronto, Montreal and/or Vancouver Public Transit System as an example/template to modify Calgary Transit System. Keep up with urban growth!

Nargis Dossa (Role of Transit): To provide a decent public transportation to Calgarians – this includes within Metro Calgary; and within a decent time frame. Make “rates” affordable so the public is actually encouraged and attracted to take the public transit!

Andre Chabot (Innovative Idea): Instituting turn stiles in outlying transit stations.

Andre Chabot (Role of Transit): Provide an affordable means of transportation, reduce traffic congestion and reduce consumption of our limited resources.


Ward 11

James Maxim (Innovative Idea) Build the entire LRT system now to address these current and future challenges:
1) Environment 2) Traffic gridlock 3) Rising financial costs Being proactive by building for the future now, ensures the provision of essential transportation services for all Calgarians in a timely manner.

James Maxim (Role of Transit): Moving people in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

Brian Pincott (Innovative Idea): I initiated the work on developing the SW BRT. Through a notice of motion, I asked Calgary Transit to conduct a feasibility study on how to create a BRT service for SW Calgary that would be separated from car traffic. The feasibility study was completed and shows that it is possible to add bus only lanes onto 14th Street and give public transit priority without reducing car lanes. The SW BRT is now a top priority within the mobility plan.

Brian Pincott (Role of Transit): Transit is about providing choice for Calgarians. A good transit system gives people the choice to leave their car at home for certain trips. Being able to choose to leave your car at home for some trips benefits everyone. Effective, efficient transit that functions well door-to-door is an essential service for our City.

Wayne Frisch (Innovative Idea): Expansion development of the SELRT and North Central LRT, Airport lines with the innovative part being the majority of the funding is shared using the new federal LRT grant program and matching provincial funds. The city shares the capital cost by no more than a third a P3 project finance model.

Wayne Frisch (Role of Transit): To provide easily assessable mobility options for citizens


Ward 12

Stephanie Kusie (Innovative Idea): While I understand that having bike lanes parallel with transit lines is a popular topic, I am very intrigued by European models of train/metro transport which see a ring line to spokes that feed into a central hub. Calgary is still a young city and I believe that we can learn a lot from other transit models from around the world.

Stephanie Kusie (Role of Transit): I view the role of transit in Calgary two fronts. First, to provide commuters with safe, affordable and accessible transit options, and second, to help relieve congestion on our roads and highways and improve traffic flow. There is also an added environmental benefit and improved air quality.

Shane Keating (Innovative Idea): BOOT is a key funding method for extending the South East LRT. Private companies build, own and operate the transit line and within a given time frame eventually transfer ownership back to the City. The Federal government has expressed interest in using this as a funding method for SETWAY. There are several other funding methods for the South East LRT: Community Revitalization Levy, GreenTRIP Funding, BOOT (Build Own Operate Transfer) and Building Canada/P3’s. It is imperative that we consider hybrid options that incorporate multiple options to ensure transit is growing to match development expansions across Calgary.

Shane Keating (Role of Transit): Calgary needs to offer a transit system that gets Calgarians to work with ease and comfort. Three key points must be considered: – Mass transit. We must ensure that the maximum amount of people are able to commute in single vehicles. It is far more efficient to transport people in a single unit of 600 than 10 separate units of 60. – Affordable for all. Transit needs to be made available for low income households that heavily rely on transit for their daily commutes. – Accessible for all. Transit must be accessible for peoples with disabilities.


Ward 13

Scott Sorokoski (Innovative Idea): BRT needs to also focus on any high use destination and not just downtown. Calaway park in the summer, the airport, all options should be looked at.

Scott Sorokoski (Role of Transit): To move people. Whether it be to transport people to work or just remove congestion from the roads the role of transit is to get people around the city. It needs to be able to work for everyone regardless of there economic status.

Andrew Frisch (Innovative Idea): Improved and additional Park and Ride Hubs to provide parking facilities away from trains so direct shuttles would deliver passengers to trains. Also reserved parking should only be until 9 AM instead of 10 AM.

Andrew Frisch (Role of Transit): Transit should be available to help move people throughout the entire city in a timely and cost effective manner. This includes those who need to use Access Calgary outside the 1 KM rule.

Diane Colley-Urquhart (Innovative Idea): Look for innovative financing options for the 12$B 30 year plan including BOOT (BUY, OWN, OPERATE AND TRANSFER back to the city ) a private sector partnership.

Diane Colley-Urquhart (Role of Transit): Make it a viable option so that people don’t have to drive.


Ward 14

Shawn Kao (Innovative Idea): We are getting to the point where technology can really improve efficiencies. GPS tracking, teletext service, smart phone apps, social media can lead to a system that less restrictive and more flexible. I envision a transit system where people can book a bus in real-time at their local stop. The bus route could adjust on the fly for increased efficiency. I would also like to see Calgary Transit conduct more public consultation especially in new communities with evolving requirements.

Shawn Kao (Role of Transit): Transit should be available to all Calgarians in some form to act as a mass public transportation system. While car travel will still remain very popular, the City of Calgary must make sure that the people who need to use transit are getting efficient access to the system while keeping it affordable.

Peter Demong (Innovative Idea): Having a real time mobile app that doesn’t just tell the schedule and when a bus is supposed to arrive at a given stop, but rather gives a real time status of when the bus/train is actually arriving.

Peter Demong (Role of Transit): To offer and provide a safe, efficient, city-wide option to move as many people as possible to where they have to go.


One thought on “Candidate Responses: Innovative Ideas and the Role of Transit

  1. I would like to see loading zones marked on the ctrain platforms indicating where the ramps are located. Currently there is no indication where these are located and the drivers can and will leave without waiting for someone in a chair putting them at risk, especially in the winter.

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