Calgarians in extended southeastern and newer northwestern communities can’t expect an LRT station in their neighbourhood anytime soon.
The City of Calgary has a well-developed system of LRT stations connecting various northern and western communities but many of the city’s most densely populated communities remained unserved. This lack of train access is particularly felt by frequent transit travelers, totally dependent on public transportation.
“After I moved from Mississauga to Calgary, I use buses and trains for my routine jobs and sometimes, it is tougher for me to change buses along with excessive wait time on BRT [bus rapid transit] stops to reach a C-Train station or downtown area,” said Amainda Kaur, a resident of the northwest neighbourhood of Evanston. “This travel time proves to be a cumbersome and tedious process for me especially after work at night.”
In 2012, the City of Calgary proposed a plan to build the so-called a Green Line LRT which would connect Calgary’s downtown to its deep southeastern communities. But trains are expensive.
The Green Line LRT has been put on hold until mid-2022 due to a dispute over the provincial funding agreement and lack of available resources.
According to City of Calgary’s Green Line LRT project reports, the construction of Green Line has the potential to create 20,000 new job opportunities and boost the economy of the province by decreasing the unemployment rate. But many people believes that there is no credible plan by the Calgary Transit to execute the project.
The financial constraints that the province currently is facing and the construction costs involved are a major determining factor behind the delay of the project. The estimated costs are around $5.5 billion the largest price tag in Calgary’s history.
“The needs of every local Calgarian should be considered and satisfied,” said Kanwal Sran, a security guard working in the Calgary Transit office. “The process of building an LRT is an expensive deal but with proper funding and organization it can be brought to its completion.”
“Unfortunately, Calgary Transit isn’t about to get more money.”
In 2020, Calgary Transit’s ridership reached a decade low, dropping from 106.4 million people in 2010 to 52 million people. This 51 per cent decrease led to a $90 million short on revenue. The reason behind the fall in ridership is the ongoing restrictions imposed due to pandemic, but it directly impacts the transit system, its ridership, and corresponding revenue generated.
Transit planners suggest that dedicated bus lanes would be comparatively cheaper and, quicker to build. BRTs are considered more cost-effective and already operate on major roadways such as Crowchild Trail, 14 Street SW, Glenmore Trail, 16 Avenue N and 17 Avenue S.E.
Building a station is expensive when compared to the number of users actually accessing the service. There are concerns that the number of people traveling from the city center to southeast and to newer northwest communities would be low as a majority of people residing in these communities have vehicles of their own.
Residents of wealthier communities often oppose the idea of building LRT lines and stations in their backyards.
“I do not think it is advisable to build C-Train lines in every corner of the city,” said Sayantan Paul, a resident of the southeastern neighbourhood of Cranston. “In my community, a majority of people have their personal vehicles with high monthly insurances.”
As the City and province continue to fight over the cost, and Calgary ponders its options, it is unlikely Calgarians, whether they oppose or support the project, will see the construction of the Green Line any time soon.