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Suggestions for Improvements to Calgary Transit

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Haven’t really posted much in the forum lately, but I wanted to try to gain some perspectives of the transit system in Calgary from some of the drivers and users on here for an upcoming project with Calgary Transit that I am working on. I’ve been out in Vancouver for the last four years and only came back to Calgary recently, so I think a first hand perspective from the drivers and users would be useful in providing me with some insight.

I will be participating at the CUTA Youth Summit in Vancouver next week and am currently working on a project in designing Convenient, Accessible and Comfortable Transit by creating a sustainable and viable alternative to single-occupancy vehicles in suburban cities. I know that a couple of people here have expressed the lack of technology or improvements compared to other systems in Canada. My questions to the board from a user/driver’s perspective:

1) What problems do you currently experience with Calgary Transit?

2) What technologies do you feel would be important to implement in Calgary?

3) Compared with other Canadian Transit systems (since many of you have been elsewhere), how do you rank the system and what can you see done in Calgary?

4) What areas do you think are the most important for change with the system?

5) Any other suggestions?

Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated. If you want to send me a long message, you can send a personal message or an email. If you want to talk by phone or meet instead of writing something long, send me a PM as well.

Thanks everyone for reading and hope to hear your comments :lol:

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kevlo86   

Problems

- Low density areas have proven to be challenging to provide cost effective and convenient transit service to, frequency is often poor or does not exist in the late evening for many routes serving low density suburbs.

- High density routes provide challenges with regard to overcrowding and in some cases not enough service/buses on the route.

- Security is lacking throughout the entire system

- Ineffective/indirect/inconvenient routing deters additional ridership

- Service announcements to the public is very poor, as Calgary Transit fails to make reasonable effort to inform customers of service changes/detours.

- Poor engine maintenance leads to increased amounts of thick black smoke being emitted from many of Calgary Transit's buses.

- Unbalanced funding for infrastructure projects, expanding bus ridership is often overlooked for expanding C-Train network

Technologies

- Proof of Fare Payment System for the C-Train

- Electronic Fare Collection systems

- Automated Stop Announcement Technology both visual and auditory

- Enhanced security technologies

- Increased emission standards/increased "green" propulsion technologies.

Compared to others

- Calgary Transit has been unable to keep up with the pace at which its ridership has grown at as Alberta's economy continues to be hot. They lack many basic technologies that help increase passenger safety and awareness.

- If you look at the level of technology that Calgary has, it is still operated much like a transit system from the 1980's. Security is limited to an insufficient network of outdated cameras and sparse security personal presence. Passengers are still limited in the sources at which they can get transit information on the spot. The fleet of buses is one of the oldest in Canada and likely one of the most polluting fleets as well.

- Calgary Transit has done an exceptional job of attracting ridership particularly through means of rapid transit, including mass C-Train (LRT) expansions and a BRT route, with more of both in the works.

- Despite having a relatively old fleet of buses, most of the service is wheelchair accessible

Important Areas of Change

- Safety and security

- Effective/direct routing

- Making the system more user friendly

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From a driving perspective:

-------------------------------

-Install more TSP (Transit Signal Priority) along busier bus routes. It helps to keep lights green and shortens red light cycles on the routes that it is implemented on, thus giving priority to buses over regular traffic. Works great on routes like 3 and 301.

-Add more bus only lanes and bus only turning lanes. If buses have to wait like the rest of traffic then why would people bother to take the bus since it will be late?

-Add more bus only crossings (bus traps). Same reason as above.

-Install Traffic Signal priority for c-trains along 9 St. Give people who ride the C-train priority over those who drive cars. This was tried and taken away because too many people complained about having to wait for C-trains to their Alderman. C-train schedule adherence has taken a hit for trains entering downtown from the NW during rush hour as well as those going to the NW. The City has to make a decision: trains or cars. At this point, they have chosen cars.

-Better synchronization of the traffic lights for C-trains along 7th Ave. During rush hour, there is a train at every block and sometimes no one can move because the traffic lights are forcing trains to stop at each block instead of being a sequence of greens.

-Delete low ridership routes or make them Shuttle bus only. Routes like 46, 146, 81, 39, 27 have no business being run in a full sized buses.

-Install electronic fareboxes inside buses. It seems like we are still using 1970s paper transfers and this 'honour system'. Why should anyone go out and buy a bus pass when most people on routes like the 1 and 26 are just throwing in 50 pennies and asking for a transfer or outright refusing to pay full fare and still asking for a transfer so that they can ride the train and not get a ticket. Little do they realize that the same fines apply for fare evasion on buses.

-Install turnstiles at C-train stations and security guards to watch for and report people who try to get around them. How much money does it cost for removing a train or bus out of revenue service because some lowlife homeless guy puked or urinated or left some chunks in it and didn't even pay for the fare in the first place?

-Greater enforcement of the fare and increased security in the transit system. This can only be done by giving the budget of PS (protective services) over to CPS. 30 unarmed security guards who hand around on 7th Ave are not able to enforce fare evasion throughout the LRT and bus system and also respond to crime on the system. This is a job for CPS. I believe that the recent audit of the transit system will show this. Its findings have yet to be released. When was the last time these PS officers ever actually rode the trains instead of hanging out on 7th Ave or Somerset and laying low ? How does that deter crime on the system?

-To add to the last point, Calgary Transit needs to educate its customers about the rules on the bus and if need-be, enforce rules by sending either PS or CPS to deal with regular troublemakers. If I am driving a bus and you are playing heavy metal music on your mp3 player in the backseat, I should not be able to hear it. If after 2 times of me telling you that it is irritating me and asking you to turn it off or down, you still want to play it, rest assured, you will be off the bus within a block. I am also talking about the lady who comes on with an SUV sized stroller when the bus is already full and insists on getting on. The rules for strollers are in the Transit Bylaw 4M81 and clearly say that strollers can be brought on (a max of 2 per bus) as long as they can be folded and does not block the doorways. Another issue is people who don't move over for seniors or wheelchairs. The driver of a bus can only do so much. Sometimes people are ready to fight and don't want to move. Another issue is the yellow line. Buses are only supposed to be loaded up to the yellow line for safety reasons because if some little car cuts the bus off and the driver has to use emergency braking then anyone in front of the yellow line could end up through the windshield. A lot of these things are at the discretion of drivers but the general feeling out there is that management won't support us when we ask for CPS or PS to enforce these things that are in the City's Transit Bylaw 4M81. 'Carry On' is what they normally tell us to do. More support from management and better education of the riding public is needed. Translink in Vancouver has some stuff on their website which details the do's and don'ts for the riding public. ETS (Edmonton) does as well. Funny thing is all the same rules apply here, Edmonton, and Vancouver.

-Doors on C-trains need to be reprogrammed so that you can't keep holding them for dear-life and delay the train to your heart's content. That is how things are now. you could be 4 blocks away and some do-gooder (lowlife in my opinion) will hold the door for you to walk from 2 blocks away and also validate your ticket. This will back trains up in the rush hour and actually make it so that trains run late for whatever is left of rush hour. Again, there is zero support from management. They won't send CPS or PS to help out. All they will say is 'let me know when you are moving' or something to that affect. In most other places in Canada as well as Europe, you can't hold the doors this way. Once the doors close, they close.

-Redo or at least reassess routing for most major routes as well as schedule timings for some routes. Routes like the 20 and 23 are virtually unchanged since the early 1990s at least (routing and schedule) eventhough this city has grown by approximately 400,000 since then. They have not accounted for the increase in traffic and still expect buses on Route 20 in the year 2008 to be on time using a schedule from the early 1990s. Routes have to work for people in order to entice them to take the bus.

- Distance between stops need to be examined as well. Less stops on major routes would make them run a bit faster. On the Route 3, along Center St and in the area of 30 Ave NW/NE, there are 3 stops within 1 block. On other routes, stops are too far from each other.

-If management decides to cut a bus due to lack of manpower, they should have the balls to at least relay this information to the public so that another driver on same route (the 2nd bus of the morning, which becomes the first bus and is leaving people behind and most people are angry for being late) doesn't have to take it from the public. If there is an accident or some other type of disruption on the C-train system, why can't they make timely PA's that can be understood? How much would it cost them to put up signs at each station that tell when the next train is coming in each direction along with the option of using those same boards to notify the public of any accident or other major delay on the system?

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A. Wong   

While I don't have answers to your questions directly, I would like to share with you a few comments as a visitor from out of town (Edmonton).

-The C-Train system is an excellent network, and it has expanded quickly to cover much of the city. This is an advantage over Edmonton's LRT for sure. One disadvantage in my view is having trains obey traffic signals downtown on 7th Avenue. Although it is sometimes criticized how Edmonton's LRT is underground downtown, it really helps by letting the trains have the right of way at all times.

-As mentioned, they have done a great job expanding bus service with BRT, and they have more artics than Edmonton now. I'm not sure if it is in their mandate to start providing all accessible service like ETS, but they seem to be moving that way.

-They have great Park and Ride service at many LRT stations. Edmonton only has 3, which are full to the brim come September. They do not have any new ones opening on the SLRT line either.

-While I haven't ridden buses with intentions of going to a specific place in Calgary much, the routes seemed to be well planned (at least more planned than Edmonton) and there are many express routes originating downtown to reach outlying communities.

-Calgary Transit's website could be much better. So could ETS's (City of Edmonton's) though.

Hope this helps!

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vicinity   
While I don't have answers to your questions directly, I would like to share with you a few comments as a visitor from out of town (Edmonton).

-The C-Train system is an excellent network, and it has expanded quickly to cover much of the city. This is an advantage over Edmonton's LRT for sure. One disadvantage in my view is having trains obey traffic signals downtown on 7th Avenue. Although it is sometimes criticized how Edmonton's LRT is underground downtown, it really helps by letting the trains have the right of way at all times.

-As mentioned, they have done a great job expanding bus service with BRT, and they have more artics than Edmonton now. I'm not sure if it is in their mandate to start providing all accessible service like ETS, but they seem to be moving that way.

-They have great Park and Ride service at many LRT stations. Edmonton only has 3, which are full to the brim come September. They do not have any new ones opening on the SLRT line either.

-While I haven't ridden buses with intentions of going to a specific place in Calgary much, the routes seemed to be well planned (at least more planned than Edmonton) and there are many express routes originating downtown to reach outlying communities.

-Calgary Transit's website could be much better. So could ETS's (City of Edmonton's) though.

Hope this helps!

for a school project i did some research into calgarytransit and i found over all the majority of calgarytransit users rank the system as fair. Some improvements might be to get the lrt platform expantion for 4 car lrvs going faster due to the increasement of ridership each year. A nother thing that could be improved is not haveing so much construction on the downtown corridore on 7th ave every long weekend.( not sure if that can be helped i just find when i ride it that there is a lot of confusion and complaints) One more thing could be to buy more then 30 to 50 buses per order. on a global news report sound off they took a pole on what people thought about the system and some people said that clagary was driving to many antique

buses, so perhaps newer more modern looking vehical would attract more poeple these are just some of the things i put into my report. i hope they help in some small way

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kevlo86   

Calgary still has its fair share of bus routes that are needlessly long or very outdated.

There are routes such as the Circle Route that try to cover too much all in one route, which results in very long rides, so of course people aren't going to want to ride the bus in these cases if they don't have to. I mean if I want to get to the U of C to say my home in Whitehorn I have a few options, but none of them are by any means efficient. I can take the 72, which first brings me to Brentwood, then cuts through a bunch of residential communities before it even gets out of the Northwest quadrant of the city (Centre St./40th Ave N.) Then the bus still has to zip across 32nd Avenue, which can take forever depending on traffic. Then the bus finally gets to Whitehorn once it turns onto northbound 36th Street. Or I could take the train, but I first have to travel in the opposite direction I want to go, cause the train of course goes downtown. Then catch the 202 downtown.

Sure the C-Train is great and I agree the service on it is good, safety and security is lacking though. But bus service isin't treated with the same service attitude as the C-Train is, and thats not the way to attract riders who are willing to go by bus and train. The system for the most part still caters to downtown commuters and more focus needs to be put on buses and rapid transit that is going from a non-downtown destination to another non-downtown destination.

Just a few days ago there was a column in the Herald demonstrating this exact point, it had to do with the inadequate service that Mount Royal College receives. It does have the 13, 20, 72 and 73 as mainline routes; however, none of those are direct and quick if you aren't anywhere close to MRC. The 181 and 182 is getting on the right idea, but still the service is limited.

Other non-downtown destinations that need more efficient/direct bus routes are University of Calgary, Foothills Industrial, Crowfoot Centre, Glenmore Crossing and Calgary International Airport.

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LRT   

Maybe add more routes on the Ctrain during the rush hours (heck maybe all day), since the 202 in basically a dead end NE to 10 street, why not offer a route that goes from the NE to the NW and NW to the NE even NW to SW via short turn through city hall. I notice there are a lot of people that transfer from a 202 to a 201 (or vice versa) downtown. That just adds a ton more people on the platforms waiting to transfer trains plus the regular commuters that normally take the train straight to there destinations. Yes I now there are trains that go from Dalhousie to MW and Somerset to 10st but thats only when trains go from the Dalhousie tail track to do a 202 for the rush or when a train a train comes from the south to get to the east, they are a unscheduled train, basically a 201 that interlines with a 202 and only happens a few times a day.

The city of Calgary needs to listen to the employees of Calgary transit (The Operators!!) since we are the people that really run the system maybe it wouldn't hurt to apply the ideas that these guys are taking about in the staff rooms!!

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Ok, so the project was last month and I was able to present some of the ideas to the Calgary Transit board of planners. From the discussion, there are some things that are getting addressed in the next couple of years, but I am not sure if I can provide really in depth details on them.

Basically, there is a focus on a number of BRT routes between now and 2012. This covers many of the areas that were previously mentioned as lacking in efficient transit and some of the issues on the crosstown routes that the system currently has. This will try to address the East - West movement and provide more speed on some of the high ridership routes.

The perception in the city is that C-Train service is excellent and bus service is adaquate for most situations. Buses still do have a stigmatism of being slow and inefficient and that was an area that I touched upon. There are a number of underperforming routes, especially in developed neighborhoods that have poor ridership. I've talked with a number of operators and many agree that there isn't much change in the system. I think the key is that the operator has to send suggestions up of any issues they have or changes they want to see. If you are late consistantly, call in everyday so that they will know that it is a problem. There is a lack of use of actual real time data in parts of the scheduling process that causes some of these issues, and without operators reporting it, it is a challenge that can't be solved.

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Make at least some of the NE LRT stations accessible from ground level. Marlborough and Whitehorn would probably be the 2 easiest ones to do, because the space between the tracks (called the "devil strip" in streetcar days") is fairly wide. Rundle, by Sunridge Mall, may be a problem; the devil strip is so narrow that people may feel uncomfortable with trains whizzing close by them.

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Make at least some of the NE LRT stations accessible from ground level. Marlborough and Whitehorn would probably be the 2 easiest ones to do, because the space between the tracks (called the "devil strip" in streetcar days") is fairly wide. Rundle, by Sunridge Mall, may be a problem; the devil strip is so narrow that people may feel uncomfortable with trains whizzing close by them.

You mean the space between the middle of two sets of tracks at Rundle? If so, It is not any narrower than Chinook Station. Put up fences. But I doubt it will happen!

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kevlo86   
Make at least some of the NE LRT stations accessible from ground level. Marlborough and Whitehorn would probably be the 2 easiest ones to do, because the space between the tracks (called the "devil strip" in streetcar days") is fairly wide. Rundle, by Sunridge Mall, may be a problem; the devil strip is so narrow that people may feel uncomfortable with trains whizzing close by them.

Maybe I am misinterpreting what you are saying, but all of Calgary's LRT stations are accessible providing that the elevator is functioning. There are spiral ramps that go from ground level to the pedestrian overpass, then there is an elevator that takes you down to platform level, this is the case at both Marlborough and Whitehorn, among other stations in the system too.

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mersar   

To add to that, theres also guidelines that CT tries to follow in the design that limits that type of access, most related to safety. Generally all level crossings are placed so that they cross only in front of a train while the train is in the station, the main reason is to that the risk of injury of someone crossing when the lights are going is minimized since the train operator can see them and can try to stop (or hit the horn), and wouldn't be going fast yet. Admittedly some of the older stations didn't use this guideline when they were constructed (NW line has Sunnyside, Lions Park and Banff Trail, and SAIT to an extent, and the crossings at Chinook and 39th in the south are also similar due to proximity to the road) which has some influence on why both Shawnessy and the future Martindale station are being designed as staggered side-loading with the crossing in between, and why McKnight only has access from the one end of the platform. We won't ever see a design like what exists at Chinook with the sidewalk again, and I'm sure that those on here who have driven the train (and many of those who just ride it) can recall close calls at that particular location.

Most of the NE stations are also fairly far set back from the intersection to the north or south. Looking at Rundle it is close to 200m to the intersection north of there, but the tracks at the intersection are spaced pretty tight, probably under 2m at most, and to the south can't happen due to the switch. A pedestrian crossing along 36th thats not at the lights would never happen either. McKnight is a lot less distance, only about 80m to the south. Marlborough is about 100m to the south, to the north is less but you'd have to somehow build a passage under the escalators then out the back which could get costly if its even possible.

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We won't ever see a design like what exists at Chinook with the sidewalk again, and I'm sure that those on here who have driven the train (and many of those who just ride it) can recall close calls at that particular location.

Almost every trip, leaving Chinook southbound, I had to use the horn at someone who just could NOT wait for the train to pass (when I used to drive the train).

I have witnessed so many people walk up between the tracks at the following 3 stations: Whitehorn, Rundle, and Marlborough. Why are people so LaZy? When driving bus on route 57 southbound a few years ago, when it was time to leave, I spotted 2 teens jumping off the platform onto the tracks at Marlborough Station to catch my bus! It was time to leave, so I pulled away as they got to the door. Oh, and I was NOT the last bus either and it was not a cold day at all!

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madsad   

My biggest issue with CT's service is that the end of the service day of C-Train and buses are grossly disparate. The C-Train runs from about 4 am to well past 2 am (past 3 am, in some cases, this is an average of both lines), while bus service often doesn't start until 6 am, and the last routes leaving downtown, all leave at 12:20 am. This is pretty pathetic, in my opinion. The buses should depart downtown until well past 1 am. Even ETS in Edmonton provides later service. Furthermore, suburban night routes end service well before C-Trains stop arriving at suburban stations. So if you arrive at a station at 1 am...then what? Your last bus left at 11:30 pm... you're hooped. The service day should be extended throughout the system.

A large majority of suburban collector routes for the C-Train are loop routes that round about the spaghetti soup roads of suburbia. This can make traveling from home to a C train station either convenient if you live on the "near" side of the loop, or inconvenient if you live on the "far" side of the loop. This is why Calgary Transit has some reverse loop routes (ex: the 25 supplements the 38). But they usually only run during the weekday daytime. The routes should be, where possible, direct, non looping, and should link two heavily-used destination points. For example, Sandstone Terminal could be linked to Dalhousie station by a few routes that alternate which suburban collector roads they use, rather than a bunch of looping routes that emerge from Dalhousie, then return to Dalhousie, without having gone anywhere else.

Overall, the bus route system has congealed over the past who-knows-how-many years, and the ordering of bus routes no longer makes sense. Some community shuttle routes, which where numbered in the 400s when community shuttles where first brought in as a cost-saving measure in the 90s. But now regular buses are used on some of these routes, making the 4XX designation irrelevant. The system could use an overhaul.

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Maybe I am misinterpreting what you are saying, but all of Calgary's LRT stations are accessible providing that the elevator is functioning. There are spiral ramps that go from ground level to the pedestrian overpass, then there is an elevator that takes you down to platform level, this is the case at both Marlborough and Whitehorn, among other stations in the system too.

I mean accessible from ground level without having to use the overpasses.

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Blake M   

This is a very old topic however it has been 9 years since the last reply, what say we start this conversation up again? See where the city has improved and see where we can still go from here!

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vicinity   

Calgary Transit has improved greatly since 2008!

 

-Technology 

we now have real time signs at all train stations with the exception of 39 Ave

 

all our ticket vending machines provide change and take debit credit!

 

We have gps on our entire fleet and a mobile app that is very helpful, also great helps with Transit55 !

 

all buses have TSP's and they are used on many routes!

 

180 buses and roughly 180 train cars will have AC ( once all the s200's are here )

 

-Routes 

 

the Nw review was a great help to find a way to provide more for less and to make the nw easier to navigate!

 

New bus bus loops at Somerset, MRU West gate, North point, Westbrook, and 69 st make the transfer and passenger experience better for customers 

 

4 BRT lines are coming in 2018 while still maintaining excellent service on the 300,301 all the time and good service at peak on the 302

 

we have opened 10 stations since 2008 and the green line is starting soon

 

all of 7th avenue's stations have been rebuilt and are much safer newer and brighter !

 

we continue to provide service to new communities with routes like 82,167,168,444,and 445

 

- Fleet

 

our trains have been well maintained and continue to be upgraded with new changes like the signs on the inside (2201-2272) , new livery 

 

we now run 4 car trains which adds 25% more capacity on the system

 

all new conventional and rebuilt buses now come with bike racks!

 

our fleet is 100% low floor accessible! 

 

Although our arbocs leave leave much to be desired, we have a 100% low floor shuttle fleet they have 3 destinations signs which is a step up from what the crest lines offered

 

We tested 4 CNG buses and have chosen to peruse a fleet of CNG buses to help lower our impact to the environment 

 

We are building a new bus maintance facility that will be open in 2019 and should address the maintance issue we have from over crowding at our facility's 

 

-communication 

 

there are more signs and email updates and tweets about delays which can sometimes be helpful and are a great improvement to what we had In 2008 

 

the new website is more user friendly and makes it easy to see service changes 

 

-Facilities 

 

we have renovated a number of stations since 2008

Banff trail, Whitehorn, Rundle, Marlborough, Chinook, and now SAIT 

 

Spring Gardens has been expanded 

 

OBMF opened and has since been expanded

 

-Frequency

headway increases have been made on a number of routes with the route ahead guidelines in place.

 

Midday frequency on the routes in the NE are virtual all 20 minutes 

 

Frequency on on the routes 1,4,5,7,8,14,20,23,26,28,36,41,72,73,78,83,86,114,153,199,301,402406,408,420,445 have all been increased 

 

The trains run every 2-4 minutes in peak and 10 minutes until 21:30 7 days a week

 

-Saftey

Brand new camera system across the Ctrain network

 

double the number of peace officers

 

new bus units for peace officers 

 

cameras inside buses and Ctrains

 

These are just some of the positive changes Calgary transit has made 

 

 

 

 

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Blake M   

All great points! Not sure if you mentioned it at all but the transit app was a great addition, it basically deletes the need for Teleride for people with the app

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