Urban sprawl can make planning transit routes a difficult task

Travel by transit: Markus Luthi waits for the Eastbound train at SAIT/AUArts/Jubilee Station on November 20, 2023. Luthi parks his car at an LRT station and switches to the Red Line downtown to get to the SAIT campus. (Photo by Daniel Janson/The Press)

With the City of Calgary spread over more than 800 square kilometres, servicing that area with enough accessible public transportation to keep riders happy can be a monumental task.

Calgary Transit had an overall satisfaction rate of 75 per cent according to research conducted by the CBC in 2019 with the lowest satisfaction rates of 67 per cent and 65 per cent being in the northeast and southeast, likely due to longer commute times.

“Honestly, from the train rides, (transit) is pretty good,” said commuter Markus Luthi. “The only thing that does suck is if you miss one (of your trains). Every once in a while, you get two Red Lines in a row and then you get a Blue Line that takes forever.”

Calgary’s CTrain system consists of two rail lines which cross opposite sides of the city and intersect downtown.

The Red Line stretches from Tuscany Station in the northwest to Somerset/Bridlewood Station in the southeast. The Blue Line connects 69 Street Station in the southwest to Saddletowne Station in the northeast.

The two rail lines bypass much of the city’s southeast and northeast quadrants and are not readily accessible to many of the communities on the outskirts of the city.

Construction on the LRT Green Line, which began in 2022, plans to connect many of Calgary’s communities where transit access is sparse. New LRT stations are planned to be built in communities such as Ogden, Douglas Glen, and the former hamlet of Shephard. Construction on the Green Line is expected to be completed in 2027 or 2028.

“It’s better than Ukraine,” said recent immigrant Alexei Bukh, who often gets up at 4 a.m. to take transit to work. “I used to work as a seasonal worker in an Alaska fish plant so there’s no problem for me.”

Transit is only accessible by bus for some Calgary communities on the outskirts of the city. These buses are often delayed during large snowfalls, which makes it even more difficult for residents to travel around the city.

According to the 2022 Calgary Transit System Map. Several BRT routes only run once about every 60 minutes, such as the 422 Dalhousie/Mahogany and 414 14 Street Crosstown.

The city’s municipal government is looking to develop residential properties near transit stations as a way to offset these problems. This has become more difficult as the city continues to grow outward, with 15 new communities coming to Calgary this year.

Recent attempts to implement this policy include plans to develop residencies near the planned Green Line LRT station of South Hill. A new highrise is currently being built near the Dalhousie LRT station.

Early mornings: The tracks leading to Somerset-Bridlewood Station on November 21, 2023. As the last stop on the LRT Red Line, some commuters wake up as early as 4 a.m. to catch the first trains from the station. (Photo by Daniel Janson/The Press)
New residencies: The highrise apartments under construction near the Dalhousie LRT Station on November 22, 2023. These apartments are being built as part of the city of Calgary’s policy to build housing closer to transit. (Photo by Daniel Janson/The Press)
About Daniel Janson 6 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Daniel Janson is working as a writer for The Press in 2024.