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)

 

Mayor

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 http://johnhob.me/On_Transit_Safety.html

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
Council.

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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Following up on our post from yesterday, today we are posting the results for the second question of our 2013 Municipal Election Candidate Survey. This question asked “What is the most pressing transit issue or need in your ward?”

Obviously, we felt this was an important question for voters to know the answers to. Do your transit priorities line up with your candidates? Does your candidate truly understand all the transit issues in your ward?

Here are the responses, unedited and in their original form (not including mayoral candidates, who don’t have a ward to represent):

Ward 1

Chris Harper: The most pressing need in Calgary Ward 1 regarding transit is convenience. Presently, the bus routes are designed to be “feeder” routes to the primary transit network via the C-Train. While this is good for satisfying commuter traffic to the core, it makes it difficult to move with ease between various communities within a region. The result is a transit system that is designed for one specific purpose (commuting) rather than also satisfying day-to-day mobility requirements. Transit should be able to satisfy the day-to-day mobility needs between communities and moving towards a grid network will assist in making transit more convenient for our Ward 1 communities.

Ward Sutherland: Based on feedback from door knocking a common theme is that the feeder routes to the LRT stations through their communities do not meet their needs and as a result they drive their cars to the LRT station.

Dan Larabie: What I’m hearing at the doors in Ward 1 is that transit safety is the number 1 issue. People don’t feel safe taking the bus or the train in the early evening. I’m actually taking the last trip of Route 1 this Saturday night to see what kind of safety threats the drivers face on a nightly basis.

Judi Vandenbrink: The most pressing transit issue in Ward 1 is to get the Tuscany LRT station completed and the trains on the track. With ongoing new development and redevelopment in northwest Calgary including Tuscany and the new community of Lynx Ridge, the LRT will be a welcome addition to ease travel to the downtown core. I have heard concerns from Ward 1 residents about available LRT parking and that outlying communities (like Cochrane) should not be getting a “free ride” when it comes to parking as they do not pay any taxes towards the system.
Ward 1 should have dedicated bus lines to get busses to the various locations on time during rush hour and beyond. There are still complaints about busses being late or not arriving at all.
I’ve also heard from regular transit users that there are many safety concerns with transit after dark. We must find a way to make transit safe. I was asked by a young woman what she should have done when she witnessed a group of young people harassing an elderly man who looked like he might be homeless. She said that incidents of harassment are escalating and that she was concerned for the elderly man and for her own safety. She looked for a safety button on the train but could not find one and her final solution was to get off at the next stop and wait for another train. She told me she felt bad that she did not do anything to help the man.

John Hilton-O’Brien: Hours of operation. There are many working people in Ward 1 who do shift work, and the hours of operation of the busses does not correspond to some shift times. We need to think about transit in a holistic fashion. This means that: a) Transit should get students to and from the latest and earliest classes b) Factories that do shift work should be identified. We should make sure that routes are available at all shift times. c) Transit should be available in entertainment districts when the bars close. d) C-trains should run 24-7, though on a reduced schedule.

 

Ward 2

Richard Poon: 1. Only one bus route #420 serving 4 communities (Evanston, Kincora, Panorama & Henson Ranch) now. Need more routes to serve these communities.
2. Buses not showing up and passengers have no idea why? Missing?

Bernie Dowhan: The most pressing transit issue in Ward 2 deals with parking at C-Train stations. The reserved parking system needs revamping. Acres of parking at C-Trains stations available are not being utilized due to flaws in the reserved parking system. If we want less cars heading downtown, then we have to make it easier for people to park at C-Trains stations.

Terry Wong: Bus feeder route travel distance and time to BRT or LRT station, especially Route 420. Secondly insufficient feeder service in developing ‘Symons Valley’ communities.

Shawn Ripley: While we do need to work on moving people across communities, the most pressing issue in Ward 2 is providing adequate service to the more distant communities. There are a lot of transit signs that read “future bus stop” rather than marking an active transit stop.

Joe Magliocca: Time. Unfortunately, I have heard time and time again that the time spent on transit in Calgary has become lengthier in my Ward and not improving. This is frustrating not just the student and others who rely on public transit, but those involved in the business community who are advocates of the service. Some are opting to go back to driving their car because of the 1 – 2 hour trips each way with Calgary Transit.

 

Ward 3

Jim Stevenson: Finalization of the North Central leg of the LRT is critical for Ward 3. A close second is the connectivity between the NE and north central parts of the ward. Migration patterns show that we have many seniors and extended families that move from the NE side of the ward to north centre but retain strong ties to the NE for work and social networks. Facilitating transit solutions across the ward is a priority need for residents.

 

Ward 4

Michael Hartford: The North Central Corridor needs direct access to the LRT system.

Blair Houston: Each community has a different perspective on Transit. The inner communities of Huntington, Thorncliff, and Highland park are frustrated with bus capacity and most often are passed because of capacity or left with standing room only. Communities such as hidden Valley are frustrated because it takes 3 buses to get downtown and up to 2 hours to do so. There has been no consultation with the residents in regards to those issues. Many angry people and I agree with them. The city wants people to use the Transit system but if it take 2 hours and 3 transfers, who would want to?

Gael Macleod: The Centre Street Corridor carries over 3,000 passengers during peak hours (35,000 per day) with 90 buses per hour on 9 routes. Ward 4 residents are being left behind as over-stuffed buses go flying by. As communities to the north of us continue to develop, the pressure for improved transit is increasing every day. We need both a bus Transitway on Centre Street to meet our current needs and the North Central LRT to meet future demands for transit and to reduce traffic congestion. By every measure, the Centre Street Transitway is identified as the number one transit need in our City and I will ensure it remains our number one priority. I am committed to ensuring that Ward 4 residents are engaged in the planning for both of these transit initiatives.

 

Ward 5

Ray Jones: We require a new ramp for handicapped individuals at the Rundle LRT station. As a whole transit runs quite well in Ward 5, we are looking forward to the extensions being completed and the four car trains being used.

 

Ward 6

Richard Pootmans: Fine tuning the feeder bus system for the LRT

Bob Bowles: I am hearing that travel times downtown are now longer with public transportation because of the elimination of express busses. Lack of parking is an issue at all LRT stations.

Joe Connelly: Connections to the new LRT line. For some reason, the commute for many is longer with the new line not faster. The connecting bus routes need to be reviewed and improved

 

Ward 7

Joylin Nodwell: Affordability and accessibility. Ward 7 has a diverse population with roughly 1 in 6 residents being a senior, and a high concentration of students living in the area. Transit has to remain affordable to those in low income brackets while also offering enough service (adequate number of buses) during peak hours of the day. I have heard from residents in Ward 7, that often the buses are so full there are occurrences of violent behavior requiring police intervention. We need more buses during peak times.

Druh Farrell: The demand for Transit exceeds supply. The need for extra capacity will be partially addressed by the platform extension program and the City’s recent commitment to invest in four-car trains. The RouteAhead long-term strategy outlines plans to further improve transit access, and Council’s support of this program will ensure appropriate investment in routes like the much-needed North Central Transitway.

Brent Alexander: To City Core – increased capacity during rush hours
To Non-City Core – better routes connecting communities to places like UofC, SAIT, Foothills Hospital and places of work outside of the downtown core (Foothills Industrial Park, the Airport et al)
All – longer hours of service to allow shift workers to be able to rely on Transit.

 

Ward 8

Ian Newman: Most of the transportation issues that I hear when knocking on doors have to do with crowded or full buses for the morning commute. In the winter this means waiting upto 30 minutes for a bus that normally runs every 12. We also hear that more buses need to be equipped with bike racks

Evan Woolley: The most pressing transit issue in Ward 8 is the difficulty getting around our inner city communities. Our transit system is primarily designed to get people through Ward 8 to downtown (and it does this pretty well). We can increase the vibrancy and sustainability of our neighbourhoods by transit the best way to get around our inner city

John Mar: Building the West LRT was the largest infrastructure project in our city’s history. It was a game changer. Not only has it exceeded our expectations for passenger use, over 37,500 person trips per day, it has dramatically reduced our carbon foot print by 40,000 tonnes of green house emissions and has significantly increased mobility by taking between 6,000 – 8,000 vehicles from our network allowing greater mobility. As a framework and a commuting tool, the West LRT is excellent, we now will need to enhance the feeder systems to ensure maximisation of the existing system.

 

Ward 9

Gian-Carlo Carra: Ward 9 sits smack dab in the middle of three of Calgary’s most important future fixed right of way transit lines – the North Central, the Central East and the South East (called the SETWAY).
The most pressing need for both Ward 9 and the rest of Calgary is that these three lines get developed: a) quickly; and b) as comprehensive Transit Oriented Development corridors.
What Calgary desperately needs (and what these three transit corridors can deliver), is a critical mass of Great Neighbourhoods linked by transit. This will:
– Give a significant and growing portion of Calgarians the choice to live car-optional lifestyles.
– Help our City’s financial position, because we can’t afford the road system we currently have, so it goes without saying that we can’t afford to build and maintain the same per capita road system for Calgary’s next million citizens.
– Free up existing roads for the many Calgarians who choose to enjoy our City’s world-class automobile lifestyle.
– Fulfill the pent-up and growing market of transit-using, neighbourhood-dwelling, creative class embodying, economy-driving, and positive tax-base generating Calgarians of tomorrow.

Jordan Katz: The SE LRT

 

Ward 10

Andre Chabot: Frequency and consistency of buss service.

Nargis Dossa: Exact quotes from residents: “Bus #45 is quite confusing as it either goes to Applewood or Abbeydale. And God forbid one should take a wrong bus… they have to go through whole circle and go across to catch the right one…” “No busses available at 5am to go to work in industrial area (52nd Street SE)” “Need decent commute from 17th Avenue SE….” “How about LRT from Forest Lawn… how come we don’t get the train…”

 

Ward 11

Wayne Frisch: 14th Street/Glenmore/Crowchild corridor. Bus transit is not a complete solution for WARD 11 residents along 14th street and residents in the WARD 11 southwest quadrant. Currently Lights/Intersections along 14th street, Glenmore, and Crowchild Trail need to be replaced by underpasses/overpasses to allow for unrestricted flow of vehicle traffic. CAVEATS: If the SWRR is not approved on October 24 we need to start work on these intersections immediately. If the SWRR is approved on we need to get capital from the province to make interior roads and streets in the NW/SW portion of WARD 11 capable of handling the anticipated increase of traffic into these communities as a result of the SWRR

Brian Pincott: The implementation of the SW BRT is the most immediate project. This will have significant benefit to communities of Braeside, Cedarbrae, Oakridge, Palliser, Bayview, Pump Hill, Southwood, Haysboro, Eagleridge, and Chinook Park. This will also have a far reaching benefit as it will enable commuters to leave their vehicles at home and will lessen the volume of traffic at key times on very busy roads, in particular 14th street. It will also enable the people living in these communities to have a choice about which Transit options they take and would reduce the pressure on the LRT. These positive changes, towards more effective, efficient and enjoyable Transit choices will also increase ridership.

James Maxim: • Frequency of bus scheduling — too long of a wait time between buses
• Safety at the Heritage, Southland, and Anderson LRT stations — particularly at night

 

Ward 12

Shane Keating: Accessibility is the key issue for Ward 12 in relation to transit. Ward 12 needs a reliable, speedy and comfortable mode of public transit. Ward 12 is one of the fastest growing areas in the city, and transit needs to keep up with this rate of growth.

Stephanie Kusie: Ward 12 residents have made it very clear that getting the South East Transit Line built is their number one priority. It’s mine as well. An LRT line in South East Calgary will create a domino effect and help to increase multi-modal trips in this part of Calgary. Residents I talk to are not pleased to have seen this vital project move from the top of the priority list in the last municipal election to the bottom of the pile over the last 3 years. Presently, the north transit line is at the top of the city’s priority list. Residents are also not impressed with the 35-year timeline associated with the project. I too would like to see an LRT line in South East Calgary before 2048. For this to happen we need to start with three things: 1. We need to change the criteria used to prioritize the transit lines. While cost per passenger was a key criterion, future growth and need was not and that needs to change. Ward 12 is experiencing the largest growth in the City and that needs to be recognized, not passed over. 2. Work with all levels of government to secure funding. Transit projects of this size are very complex and will not happen without large infrastructure dollars from the Federal and Provincial governments. Those conversations need to start happening sooner rather than later. 3. We need to look for and evaluate private public partnerships. Vancouver had much success with this and their Canada line, Ottawa has just entered into an agreement and Waterloo is also exploring options.

 

Ward 13

Scott Sorokoski: Crowded CTrains and the ability to get to places other than downtown.

Adam Frisch: Lack of parking at train stations

Diane Colley-Urquhart: Congestion. People need to get on the train at Anderson and go south so they can get on. Need four car platform.

 

Ward 14:

Shawn Kao: I get a lot of comments on C-Train parking and providing alternate routes (eg. Chaparral to Foothills Industrial without having to go across to Somerset first). Obviously Calgary Transit would assess each situation on a case-by-case basis. In regards to C-Train parking, we do need to make sure that people are able to get a parking spot and not funneled into the communities, which leads to other problems. There is also an outstanding issue of heated bus shelters at Somerset station from the 2010 election.

Peter Demong: Aside from getting the 4-car trains up and running ASAP, the most pressing issue is getting the SE LRT in service.

2013 Municipal Election Transit Questionnaire

Transit is an important issue in our city, and we at Transitcamp think voters should know how our politicians perceive, understand and value the transit issues in our city. But also, we need to how they plan to address those issues. To help voters, we at TransitCamp distributed a questionnaire to all candidates in the election about the important transit issues facing our city. We chose to ask four simple questions:

1. How often do you use Calgary Transit?

2a. What is the most pressing transit issue or need in your ward?(for candidates running for ward councillor only)

2b. What is the most pressing transit issue or need outside your ward?

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

4. What is the role of transit in Calgary?

Over the next few days we are going to share the results of our poll, one question per day. You may also read these results published in the morning Metro paper, who is working with Transitcamp to share this information with voters (a huge thanks to Metro for helping us with this). We are not going to comment on the answers of any individual candidates, as we are leaving that to you, the voter. However, we are going to explain why we think each question is important, and why we chose to ask it.

(Note, we did not receive responses from all candidates, as we were unable to reach some candidates and some candidates did not provide responses by the October 1st deadline)

Our first question asked “How often do you use Calgary Transit?” This question isn’t designed to “out” those who don’t take transit, as we understand that transit cannot work for everyone (and we shouldn’t demand that it does!). The question highlights the importance of using transit in order to understand the needs and challenges of transit riders in our city. The question also gets candidates to think about why they don’t use transit, and what can be done so that it is more useful to more people. So, don’t judge a candidate just because they don’t use transit. The importance is that they understand the issues. Using transit is only one way to do that.

Here are the results (unedited and in random order):

How often do you use transit?

Mayor:

John Lord: I used to ride it everyday, but no longer work downtown. I still use it once in a while if I am going downtown, but it is less useful otherwise, except during Stampede.

Naheed Nenshi: As often as I can, but not as much as I would like, which irritates me to no end. I am a lifelong Calgary Transit user, relying on it exclusively for many years (I’m scared to calculate the total time on the 72/73 in my life). I rode the C-train to nomination day this year for a reason, as I wanted to highlight the centrality of transit to urban life.

Ward 1

Dan Larabie: I use it to get to special events, hockey games, concerts and downtown.

Judi Vandenbrink: I work from home and don’t need to travel daily by bus or car; however, I do take transit to the downtown core for events or appointments.

John Hilton-O’Brien: Daily. I make it my primary mode of transportation.

Chris Harper: Before the election I would use Calgary transit on a regular basis. For me, being able to work while on transit is a great convenience. I also enjoy the service transit operators provide. For example, the C-Train driver who always welcomes us to Downtown and shares the weather. During the election I take transit several times a week and use the “Harper” mobile the other days. In order to understand how to improve transit, I feel it is important to use it.

Ward Sutherland: I use Calgary Transit for sporting events, concerts and events that take place in the city centre. My 2 daughters use city transit for their daily commute to High School.

Ward 2

Bernie Dowhan: I am a regular user of Calgary Transit. I take the C-Train downtown to and from work. I have a monthly transit pass. I rarely take the bus.

Joe Magliocca: Although, I do not use Calgary Transit very often, my children do. As a father of 2 teenage girls this is a mode of transportation that is appreciated by our family.

Richard Poon: Rarely

Shawn Ripley: Several times a week.

Terry Wong: As my current activities are several trips across the Calgary, my rides on Calgary Transit are limited to 1-3 times a month if only to downtown, but always LRT if within downtown.

Ward 3

Jim Stevenson: My primary use of transit is between City Hall and meetings or functions downtown and in immediately surrounding areas. As often as possible, I walk to amenities in my neighbourhood. However, with the size of Ward 3 and council responsibilities that take me all over (and outside) Calgary, I also rely on a personal vehicle.

Ward 4

Blair Houston: I only use Transit a few times every month.

Gael Macleod: Unfortunately, I do not use transit as often as I would like. When possible, I ride to and from the downtown core, Stampede grounds, and the Sandstone bus loop. I have used the #300 to the airport and back, and I found it very convenient.

Michael Hartford: Due to a recent surgery I am not medically cleared to drive so I am completely dependent on Calgary Transit.

Ward 5

Ray Jones: Not very often maybe once or twice a year. The job requires a lot of travel; therefore we need our cars.

Ward 6

Joe Connelly: Varies greatly depending on what I am working on. Sometimes every day for a month, sometimes not at all for a month – so hard to be accurate. Certainly wouldn’t describe myself as a regular user.

Bob Bowles: I am not currently working downtown but, when elected, I plan to take the LRT down to City Hall most days.

Richard Pootmans: 4 days per week

Ward 7

Brent Alexander: Four times a week. I am primarily a pedestrian when going to work, but will hop on to the c-train to the old science world to lessen the 4 km walk home! Use the #1 and #305 less frequently though they provide much better service to my neighbourhood.

Druh Farrell: Daily during the week, and sometimes on weekends.

Joylin Nodwell: When I worked downtown, I took City Transit daily to and from the core. Since 2007, I have not used Transit regularly due to the location of my current job and having to drive two children to their respective schools. Our family does use the C-train when heading to special events such as Stampede.

Ward 8

Evan Woolley: Hi, I’m Evan Woolley and I’ve lived in Ward 8 for almost of my life. Transit has been essential for me to get around the Ward over the years, from taking the bus as a kid to play soccer in Killarney and Mardaloop, to riding the LRT to my jobs downtown in oil and gas and at the City Manager’s office. I use transit on a weekly basis and also walk and bike frequently.

Ian Newman: Usually about once a week. I work in construction so I commute via my work truck to my office in the NE, but I use the Ctrain and routes #2, #6,#7 quite regularly

John Mar: Regularly. Unless I know I have special meetings to attend outside of City Hall, like the Deerfoot Junction office which temporarily served as Council Chambers and still serves as Land and Asset Committee.

Ward 9

Gian-Carlo Carra: I use Calgary Transit a lot during the winter and I ride my bike and walk in the summer. The size and diversity of Ward 9, coupled with my desire to be out and about in my Ward, necessitates a lot of traveling around. If it suits my schedule and I don’t have to be in back-to-back meetings, I try to hop on a bus.

Jordan Katz: For special events downtown.

Ward 10

Nargis Dossa: Not as often as I should…

Andre Chabot: Once or twice per month

Ward 11

Wayne Frisch: Weekly, Bus from MRU to LRT Westbrook to downtown.

Brian Pincott: Not as often as I used to. For 10 years I was a daily user. Once I got onto Council my usage dropped off because of my schedule and having tightly scheduled meetings all over the city. Currently, I might use it 10 – 12 times a month.

James Maxim: Like many Calgarians, I use Calgary Transit for special events.

Ward 12

Shane Keating: I have taken transit on occasion to gain perspective on the experience. Transit currently is not accessible for everyone and is not a realistic option for every job.

Stephanie Kusie: Living in South East Calgary having a car is almost a necessity. I use Calgary transit from time-to-time to head downtown and for transportation to major events like the Stampede and concerts. Growing up in Lake Bonavista, I used the C-Train regularly, most notably to get to and from university and as a young professional working downtown. I now live across the river in McKenzie Towne and it differs significantly from the time when I could walk from my home to the Anderson station. I have spoken to residents in Ward 12 who feel incredibly isolated for this very reason. That is why securing funding for the South East LRT line is so critical and is my number one priority for Ward 12.

Ward 13

Adam Frisch: As often as possible if I am going to cultural events or downtown and back.

Diane Colley-Urquhart: 3-4 times a week

Scott Sorokoski: A few times a month in the winter

Ward 14

Peter Demong: My family uses Calgary Transit daily. I use Calgary Transit 1-2 times per week.

Shawn Kao: I work out of a home office and travel out of town for business so not too often. I try to take the C-Train if I am going downtown or to hockey or football games.

RouteAhead

After months of preparation and consultation, the City of Calgary’s draft RouteAhead plan has been released. RouteAhead is a long term strategic plan for Calgary Transit.

RouteAhead will come before the Special Planning Committee on Transportation and Transit at 9:30 am on Wednesday December 12 in the Engineering Traditions room at City Hall. You are welcome to attend the meeting or can send your comments to cityclerk@calgary.ca. A few TransitCamp YYC members will be there.

Why Concentrating Employment is Good for Transit

Imperial Oil’s recent announcement that it will be moving its Calgary headquarters from downtown to Quarry Park raises a debate often heard in cities. Is it a good idea to “decentralize” employment outside of the downtown?

You will often hear the argument that our city should spread employment areas throughout the city so that people can “live closer to work.” This is not something only heard in Calgary, but in nearly every city where commuting is a challenge. The problem, as many people see it, is that everyone is trying to move in one direction to a single location (downtown), causing congestion and long commutes. The argument goes that if employment was closer to people’s homes, they would more easily be able to walk, bike or take transit, or at least their commute would be shorter. As well, people will be travelling in all directions, so we would be making more efficient use of road space (and transit capacity).  The best way to do this, as the argument goes, is to spread employment throughout the city.

I will tell you why this is wrong.

The idea seems simple enough, right? If employment is located closer to homes, then people will be closer to work. There is, however, a very large assumption being made with this assertion. The assumption is that the homes that the employment will be close to are the same as homes the workers actually live in. However, this is not always the case and there are several reasons why.

Changing Careers vs. Changing Homes- The first problem with the idea that people will live close to their work is that people change careers more often then they change homes. While people change both their jobs and home locations more often in their early part of their careers (until around their mid 30s) and then less in their later careers, the fact is that most people will change jobs several times while living in the same home. Even if the first job is close to their home, it may not be the case that the second or third job will be, especially if jobs are spread out throughout the entire city. So while employment might be close to people’s homes, there is little to guarantee that they actually work there. If this was the case everyone who worked at the Foothills Hospital would live in University Heights, St. Andrews Heights or Parkdale. That is clearly not the case.

Housing Location/Career Choice Timing Discrepancy- The second problem is the timing of when people choose where to live and when they choose a career. Many people choose to purchase a home after they have settled into a career, so they can choose a location that is closer to their work, but this is not always the case. Sometimes people make a choice of where to live before they settle into a long term career and being able to predict where that job will be is difficult.

Dual Income Families- The third problem with living close to work is the fact that most households now have two income earners. That means two different jobs, most likely with different companies. In a city with spread out employment, this means that even if one partner is working close to home, it is likely the other isn’t, and if employment is spread out, it also probably means that transit between the two locations is poor at best and non-existent at worst. Ask yourself how many couples do you know work at the same location?

Employment Specialization- Spreading employment out throughout the city works when anyone can work any job, or at least work at a job that can be located anywhere in the city. This makes sense in medieval cities, or even early-industrial cities where working in any one trade gave you an opportunity to work at multiple possible locations (although medieval and industrial cities also had a high degree of geographic concentration of industries). However, in the present economy, jobs are highly specialized, and depending on your specialization, the number of possible locations you can work may be limited. Simply having employment close to where you live is no guarantee it will be employment in your field, let alone your specialization.

Non-Employment Housing Location Considerations- The last reason why people won’t live near work if employment is that living close to work isn’t the only consideration people have when choosing where to live. Access to schools, green space and amenities, housing cost, safety, the size and style of the home and a whole host of other factors play into the decision people make of where to live. So while your work may have lots of residential opportunities within walking distance, perhaps the need for a school that fits your children’s needs is more of a priority, and you end up living farther away.

So if spreading employment out doesn’t increase transit, walking or cycling usage, does that mean that centralizing it does? The answer is most often a strong, if qualified, yes. A concentrated central core of employment is often the best method to increase transit, walking and bicycling use in the city. This is why places with concentrated employment cores, such as New York or Chicago have much higher transit ridership (as well as walking and cycling) than say, Houston, Atlanta or Los Angeles (even though LA has a higher average density than New York). Alon Levy has a brilliant post about this very topic that can be found here: http://pedestrianobservations.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/a-transit-city-is-a-centralized-city/ .

Centralizing employment is good for transit.

The most obvious reason centralized cities perform better on transit, pedestrian and cycling measures is because a central location is the most optimal location to reduce the average commuting distance throughout the entire city. While a location in say, Quarry Park, will be closer to southeast and south residents, it will be worse for people living in every other quadrant of the city. This is one of the reasons why transit usage in the downtown is 50% of commuters. Outside of the downtown, transit usage drops rapidly.

A quick exercise with a transit map can show why. Take our transit map below and compare traveling from any area of the city to the Downtown vs. Quarry Park (note also that this is a proposed future map, almost no transit lines currently serve Quarry Park, and those that do are only limited stop services- i.e. the 302).

Sure, stations on the future SE LRT have a more direct route to Quarry Park than downtown, but almost all others do not. Those that do have a direct route, such as from the north-central line, still have travel through downtown to get to Quarry Park, making a longer trip. For residents of the NW especially, the move to quarry park makes trips via transit much longer indeed.

That being said, of all the non-downtown locations for an office park, Quarry Park is pretty good. The SE LRT (what we call the Deerfoot Line) provides access for southeast and north central residents directly and northwest residents via a single transfer downtown. Residents in west and south Calgary can get to the site via the Heritage BRT (either directly or via a transfer at Westbrook, Richmond Road, Heritage Park or Heritage LRT station) and northeast residents can use either the Foothills BRT or the Barlow Express Bus to get to the site.

Another reason why concentrating employment is a good idea is that it addresses the issue of people changing careers without requiring a corresponding change in residential location to maintain a similar style of commute. If all jobs are located in a concentrated core area, changing jobs doesn’t mean a change of how you travel to work. You can change jobs several times, but because jobs are all in a concentrated area, you don’t really change where you work. This is especially true in Calgary. An engineer working for an oil and gas company downtown can change jobs dozens of times, never having to move more than 6 blocks and taking the train the entire time. It isn’t a massive change in someone’s commute to get off one transit station later, or walk an extra 2 blocks. Moving jobs from one quadrant of the city to another is quite different, which is why Imperial’s move to Quarry park will likely create difficulties for many transit commuters. This is also why crosstown routes are so important in our city. They allow people to continue to take transit while moving jobs, while also eliminating longer trips and multiple transfers for many trips.

This is not to say that all employment should be in the centre of a city. There will, and should, always be employment areas outside the centre, such as universities, hospitals, industrial areas or other office areas. These secondary employment areas are found in every city. While they are not ideal for transit (transit ridership is always lower in non-downtown locations compared to downtown), walking or cycling as compared to the central city, much improvement can be made to make them more transit-, pedestrian- and cycling-friendly. The real challenge is not to “de-concentrate” employment away from the downtown, but to ensure that employment outside the downtown is concentrated around transit stations. In short, moving employment from the downtown into suburban office parks (or even to peripheral transit stations) is not a great idea, moving employment from isolated office parks to pedestrian friendly areas around transit stations is a good idea.

The primary land use goal of a city trying to encourage transit should be to concentrate as much employment as it can within a centralized core (usually office) well serviced by transit. Along with this it should focus on ensuring secondary employment areas are clustered around transit stations (preferably along radial transit lines that also serves the centralized core to minimize transfers). This allows for an optimization of existing transit infrastructure. Third, it should make it so employment that is adjacent to transit is also designed to be easily accessible to that transit (i.e. not having to cross a freeway to get from the train station to work) and also has residential and service development adjacent to it.

So, is it a good thing for transit that Imperial Oil is moving out to Quarry Park? No. But of all the suburban office locations, is Quarry Park a better location than others for transit? Yes.

The TransitCamp Network Plan

This week, TransitCamp is presenting an updated version of our network plan for Calgary Transit. We’ll let you take a look at our proposal below:

The entire TransitCamp Transit Network


As well as a simplified version (express bus routes and station names have been removed):

A simplified version of the network

Before we compare our plan to the RouteAhead plan (which can be found here: http://www.routeahead.ca/), there are some things we need to clarify. First, our plan consists of four different types of transit routes, which are described below. While the map shows these different types of transit for different routes, this is a conceptual idea rather than a concrete plan. What is more important is the alignment of the routes and how they connect to each other, rather than what technology they use. It is important to keep this in mind while looking at the system. Let’s explain what each type of transit consists of:

Light Rail Transit- This is the form of transit Calgarians will be most familiar with as it exists today. Light Rail Transit routes will be much like the current C-Train routes, with dedicated rights-of-way (tracks not shared with regular traffic), separated or signalized intersections that give priority to trains, distinct stations and fare payment made off the vehicle. Although the types of trains may change (to be low-floor), the system would be very much what currently exists on the C-Train network.

Bus Rapid Transit- Bus Rapid Transit (what RouteAhead calls a Transitway), is a form of bus transit that typically uses dedicated bus lanes (i.e. not sharing a lane with regular vehicle traffic), limited stops, off-vehicle fare payment (i.e. you don’t pay the driver directly, but purchase the ticket before and roving transit officers randomly check fares on the vehicle, much like on our C-Train system) and signal priority at intersections. We call this form of transit Bus Rapid Transit, mostly because that is what it is called in most of the rest of the world (places like Bogota are the most common examples given). In our plan, the routes identified as Bus Rapid Transit will have most, if not all of these elements for most of their route. For example, the Heritage line will likely use dedicated transit lanes on Heritage Drive and the TransCanada line will use dedicated lanes on 16th avenue.

Express Bus Transit- This simply is a limited stop service, with minor improvements to increase reliability, such as queue jumps and signal controls. Dedicated lanes will be limited, if used at all. These routes will be very similar to the 300 series routes currently, such as the 301, 302 and 305. The emphasis is on improving speed through limited stops rather than completely removing the bus from traffic. Fare payment will likely be as normal, with passengers paying the driver. However, if considerable speed improvements can be realized by having fare machines at each station, this may also be implemented.

Urban Gondola– Finally, we have proposed an urban gondola. Calgarians will also be familiar with this form of transit, because in reality it is much like a gondola found on a ski-resort (both Sunshine and Lake Louise have gondolas). The exact design and style of the gondola is still to be determined, but the plan would use a system of multiple cars on an aerial cable system. This will be discussed in greater depth in a later post.

So now that we know what our plan entails, lets compare it to the RouteAhead plan (we will just highlight similarities and differences and let you decide which are pros or cons).

Similarities

Focus on network connectivity and crosstown routes- Both plans have a strong emphasis on creating a transit network that uses crosstown routes to provide mobility across the entire city, a considerable shift from the very downtown-centric model of transit currently.

The plan is almost identical- You may think that by coming up with our own plan, TransitCamp would have a radically different vision than RouteAhead. In fact, we had come up with an earlier network plan more than a year ago, before Calgary Transit released their proposed BRT network. That network was almost identical to the BRT network plan and both were created completely independently of each other. Sure, there may be some tweaks here and there (such as connecting the Heritage and Foothills BRT at Quarry Park), but the main structure is the same. The reason this is so is because the routes just make sense. A transit route on 16th avenue is obvious considering the number of major institutions adjacent to it (including SAIT, Foothills Hospital, Children’s Hospital and the University of Calgary). Similarly it makes sense to connect Mount Royal University and Rockyview Hospital to the west and south LRT lines. Network planning is very much like playing connect the dots. The route between those dots is usually pretty obvious, but the exact form that route would take is not.

Routes are “scaled up” based on performance criteria- While both plans show theoretical build outs of the plan (and phasing in the case of RouteAhead), both will upgrade routes based on a set of criteria rather than a set plan. So while our plan, for example, shows the TransCanada line as Bus Rapid Transit, that is only an estimate of what we think will happen. If the line does very well attracting riders, and we find out a way to construct light rail cost-effectively, the route  may actually be Light Rail Transit. Both plans assume that we do not know perfectly how our city will develop and how people will use transit, so we use actual performance and other criteria to decide how to invest in improvements. Most routes will start as limited stop services, and upgrade as necessary.

Differences

More details than RouteAhead- There are a few details that the TransitCamp plan includes, that RouteAhead doesn’t. Our plan includes stations beyond just transfer points, with the stops on each route shown on the map. We also commit to a few alignments that RouteAhead doesn’t, such as using Centre Street for the North Central LRT. As well, we have included what we call “Express Bus Transit”, which RouteAhead seems not to have included in their most recent plan. One example of this would be the providence line connecting Somerset station to the South Hospital.

Naming the routes- We decided to use names for each route. The names are based either on the major road the route follows (such as TransCanada, Crowchild, Macleod, Elbow, Barlow and Heritage lines), a prominent location the route serves (such as the Foothills line serving Foothills industrial park or Symon’s Valley) or a major geographic feature along the route (such as Glenmore reservoir for the Glenmore line, or Confederation Park for the Confederation line). These names are mostly used to help us identify the routes in discussions, as well as a point of discussion of how we label our transit routes (i.e. should we continue to use numbers, or go with names)?

Less commitment to phasing than RouteAhead- The routeahead plan includes a conceptual phasing plan, showing which improvements will take place when. At this point, we haven’t made such a commitment, because honestly, we don’t have an accurate picture of how well each route will do and when upgrades will be needed. For example, with the announcement that Imperial Oil is moving to Quarry Park, it may be the case that the Heritage line upgrades to dedicated bus lanes before the north central LRT is built. At this point it is hard to know.

Quarry Park as a transfer hub- One significant difference between our plan and RouteAhead’s plan is that we have the Foothills BRT (using 52nd street east) going to Quarry Park instead of the South Hospital. In fact, Quarry Park becomes a major transit hub with 4 lines (Deerfoot LRT, Heritage BRT, Foothills BRT and Barlow Express) all converging on the station. We had this idea before Imperial Oil announced its move to Quarry Park, which is quite a coincidence. The reasoning was that residents in the south and west should have a good connection to Foothills Industrial (and similarly northeast residents should have a good connection to Quarry Park). In order to do this, the Foothills line and Heritage line had to meet, the most logical point being Quarry Park. We do sacrifice a direct line between the northeast and the South Hospital, but we feel the change is worth it.

Additional crosstown routes in all quadrants- The TransitCamp plan adds one crosstown route in each quadrant, and two in the south. Looking at the entire network, we generally have one BRT and one Express Bus line serving as a crosstown in each quadrant. The north is served by the TransCanada BRT and the Northmount Express; the east with the Foothills BRT and Barlow Express, the south with the Heritage BRT and the Rivers and Providence Express lines, and the west is served by the Skyway and the Confederation Express. The result is a well integrated network with several crosstown routes serving a variety of destinations with multiple points of connection.

As always, we appreciate your thoughts. We will provide more details on our plan in the weeks to come.

The Route Ahead- Some Thoughts

This week, the RouteAhead team presented a draft version of their 30 year vision for Calgary Transit to City Council. The $8 billion plan includes new LRT lines, BRT routes (which we prefer to call express or limited stop services), Transitways (using dedicated transit lanes, which we would call Bus Rapid Transit), a new downtown subway, an LRT link to the airport and even a link between the UofC and Westbrook mall using a mysterious “new technology.” We encourage everyone to see the draft version of the plan and the associated documents, which can be found on the Route Ahead website here: http://www.routeahead.ca/

Here are some of our initial thoughts on the draft plan:

Pros

The plan focuses on increasing crosstown routes. While Calgary Transit has been tremendously successful in providing rapid and reliable transit to the downtown, with unprecedented ridership for downtown workers, that success has not been translated to other areas of the city to as great effect. Providing high quality crosstown routes serving other employment (and non-employment) destinations, such as Foothills Hospital, Mount Royal University, the Airport and industrial areas (especially Foothills Industrial) will greatly improve transit for many more Calgarians.

– Network connectivity from the beginning is key. Rather than focusing on one corridor at a time and providing a massive improvement to transit for just one route, while leaving other areas with lower quality transit, the plan focuses on creating a network of interconnected routes as early as possible. By providing this network of routes, passengers can get from almost any part of the network to any other part quickly using frequent transit services. Reducing the number of transfers that passengers need to make is key to ensuring high quality service.

The plan is technology neutral (kind of). While the map of future capital projects shows different LRT, BRT, Transitway and other technologies for different routes, the plan actually calls for each corridor to be “upgraded” as necessary, which the plan calls “Mode Progression.” This means that each corridor will undergo improvements to increase quality of service (i.e. from limited stop buses to dedicated lanes or from dedicated bus lanes to LRT) when needed. While not always linear (sometimes the route may go straight from limited stop bus to LRT), the concept is that criteria for improvement should drive the technology choice, not the other way around. This prevents the nonconstructive arguments of “we need LRT here”, when we should be saying “we need transit here” and let the criteria determine what form of transit that takes. Which takes us to the next point:

The plan uses multiple criteria for improvements. The plan uses three sets of criteria to evaluate when to upgrade a transit corridor. These criteria are Land Use (does the corridor serve areas of transit-supportive development), Customer Experience (will the improvement improve the speed, reliability and capacity of the service) and Project Characteristics (is the project cost effective both in terms of capital and operating costs). By using multiple criteria the plan pursues a balanced approach to improving the network, ultimately improving decision making for expenditure. If a single criteria was used (for instance the raw number of riders on a route) it may lead to improvements that are not cost-effective, or that do little to improve connectivity with other routes.

Cons

– Connecting the SW Crosstown BRT and 52nd ST E BRT. There seems to be a lack of a connection between these two routes. Passengers traveling from the west side of the city going to Foothills Industrial will have to make at least two separate transfers to get to where they are going. A possible solution to this would be to connect the 52nd ST E BRT to Quarry Park, so transfers can be made here. This does sacrifice a direct route from the NE to the South Hospital, but perhaps the cost of creating a single transfer for NE residents going to the hospital is less than the benefit of eliminating a second transfer for west residents going to Foothills industrial. The other option would be to extend the SW Crosstown BRT eastward to make a connection with the 52nd ST E BRT on 52nd Street.

– No connection between South Hospital and Somerset. The plan does not show a connection between the South LRT and the SE LRT, connecting passengers using the South LRT to the the South Hospital. Likely this is because Route Ahead determines this route not to be “rapid transit” but rather “frequent transit” (i.e. it won’t require dedicated lanes or other priority improvements), and it will be shown on a later version of the plan. Either way, this connection should be made, as without it any passengers using the South line would have to travel north to Heritage, transfer to the SW Crosstown BRT and then transfer again at Quarry Park on the SE LRT.

Could the Airport–LRT connection strategy be implemented more effectively? The plan shows a rail connection from the Northeast LRT to Calgary International Airport, and a limited-stop bus connection from the airport to Centre Street. It seems strange and most disconcerting that RouteAhead’s mode progression analysis would fall so short here, and to such disjointed ends. While the C-Train connection from the Northeast LRT to the airport would leverage the municipal investment in the light-rail-ready Airport Trail Underpass, a rail connection between the airport and the North Central LRT would offer Calgary Transit users the option of traveling a shorter distance with fewer passenger stops in between. Also, the mode progression analysis gives short shrift to Aurora Business Park, the potential railhead and passenger interchange through the Nose Creek Valley for future commuter rail and high-speed rail services, and future commercial and service developments in the vicinity of Airport Trail and 19 Street NE. It is contrary to the Calgary Transit vision and mission of providing effective public transportation service to introduce a needless, and needlessly permanent, transfer point along the Airport Trail corridor between the Northeast and North Central LRT lines, and the strategic problem of moving passengers from Northpointe to Saddletowne, as a case in point, is easily soluble. An airport mass transit connection that contemplates light rail as a means of joining Calgary International Airport to the Northeast and North Central LRT must finish what it starts.

Interesting Points

 The plan is (purposely?) vague. Although some details about route alignment are provided in the draft plan (such as using 16th avenue for the North Crosstown Route, or 52nd Street), others are not. This is good in that it does not commit the plan to any particular alignment and allows for future study to determine the optimal alignment for each. That, however, does leave some questions open. For instance, the Rapid Transit route from Stoney Trail to the 305 will use Shaganappi Trail and shows a connection to the NW LRT. The question is, where will this connection be made.? Shaganappi Trail is just under a kilometre from Dalhousie Station and almost 2km from Brentwood Station. Would a connection here require a new LRT station to be built at Northland Mall, as some have previously advocated for (and we are sure the owners of the mall would welcome)? Also, the North Crosstown BRT isn’t shown to connect to the NE LRT. Does this imply that the route will continue on 16th avenue until 52nd Street, or will it divert course to connect to the NE LRT at say, Rundle Station. So far this is unclear, but definitely something that must be considered.

What is the New technology”?. The plan shows using a “new technology” between the UofC and Westbrook station. Considering a direct connection here would go over Edworthy Park, it is likely that this technology is in fact an urban gondola. The thought is definitely worth consideration.

There is a lot to consider with this plan, and we encourage everyone to share their thoughts here, with their representative on City Council and with the Route Ahead.

Next week, we will present the TransitCamp long range transit plan (an update to our earlier post) and show how it compares to the Route Ahead plan.