Calgary Area Restaurants

Rant: Calgary Transit

Copyright 2010 by Stephen Vermeulen
Last updated: 2010 Jun 22

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What's Wrong With Transit

Eventually this will be an essay on what is wrong with Calgary Transit and what I think might be done to fix it.  For the moment this page will just be a scratch pad where I jot down things that I might eventually discuss further.
  • not constructing the Brentwood LRT station immediately (at the same time as the University station)
  • only expanding to 53rd St in the NW (repeating the same lack of planning as was done with the University station)
  • only expanding to 85th St in the NW (again repeating the same lack of planning)
  • not expanding to Cochrane, well maybe not that far, but the idea is that in 2007 when the 85th St station opens Calgary will be a lot further west than that.
  • CTrain drivers leaving scheduled time stops before the time is reached, Calgary Transit seems to have "fixed" this by just removing the check-point times from the posted public schedules. That's the wrong way to do this, drivers should work to a schedule, and in the event they get ahead they should wait at the scheduled time stop stations until the appointed time.
  • CTrain drivers (at downtown stations mainly) "pulling forward" while the traffic lights are still red, this prevents them from leaving the doors open so they can make a fast getaway as soon as the lights turn green - this stops transit riders arriving a few seconds late from getting on, which can be very frustrating.
  • not "pacing" drivers, a number of CTrain drivers like to play "catch up" resulting in several trains closely following each other rather than being spaced the right number of minutes appart, this problem is particularly bad in rush hour as it gets compounded by the lead train taking longer to load and unload passengers at each station because it is so full.

    As I walk home from downtown along a path that follows the CTrain I observe this effect on a daily basis - a 10-15 minute gap goes by with no trains, then a packed train (and I mean all three cars packed solid) and then a couple of trains close behind it, usually within 2-3 minutes of each other that are often lightly loaded.

  • transit supervisors not understanding that if the train schedule calls for a train every 10 minutes, then if trains are delayed by 10 minutes, then they are actually "on time" again, this results in them making helpful (but useless) public service announcements saying things like "trains out of downtown are delayed by 15 minutes", which really means the next train might be along in 5 minutes.
  • control of the traffic lights downtown along the LRT, there should be an operator trigger on this so that the CTrain can get through the downtown core faster.
  • Poor intermixing of the trains ariving into downtown from the north west and the departure of the east-bound Whitehorn train from the west end of downtown. It should be a rule that if a train is coming into downtown from the Sunnyside station then the Whitehorn train should wait for it to pass and then follow it through downtown, this way passengers from the North West can transfer to the North East line without delay. More often than not, the Whitehorn train will wait until the south bound train has reached about 6th avenue and then it will start to go east, holding up the south train and preventing passengers from transferring.
  • poor park and ride access design, both for drivers getting into and out of the park and ride lots, and for the passengers getting to and from the trains.
  • poor integration of bus time tables with the CTrain
  • insufficient park and ride space (construction of multi-story parkades at Brentwood and 53 St should take place).
  • not running 24 hours service on the LRT.
  • not running a 10 minute service on the LRT during the day. This was fixed in 2006, now they should increase this to a 6 minute schedule all day.

From the Calgary Herald 31-July-02

Growth Called Phenomenal by Sean Myers

After a dip in ridership because of last years strike, Calgary Transit has bounced back and is on track to celebrate a record year.

"We're at pre-strike rider levels", Ron Collins, communications co-ordinator for Calgary Transit, said Monday.

Based on trips so far this year, the total ridership for 2002 is projected to hit 76.7 million.

The number of trips tumbled to below 65 million in 2001 due to a 50-day strike by the transit union.

In 2000 ridership on the city's public transportation system was 74.9 million.

"We're having phenomenal growth", Collins said Monday. "There's been a 33 percent increase in the past five years of C-Train and bus use combined."


"Increased ridership on the C-Train alone has been 73 percent in the last five years", he said.

Collins said the increase in ridership has led to increased costs.

The city bought 15 new C-Train cars last year, bringing the total number of cars in use on Calgary's LRT system to more than 100, with 17 more cars on order to arrive by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, 82 new buses were added to the city's fleet last year, bringing the total to more than 700 buses, with 35 more expected to arrive later this year and another 41 to be ordered in 2003, pending approval by city council.

"The No. 1 complaint we get from our customers is that while we provide good service, there's not enough of it", said Collins. "And that costs money."

"It's a real challenge to keep pace (with increased ridership). We're really hoping the federal government hears the calls for funding for transit."

Calgary Transit's annual budget is $74.3 million, which is picked up by the city.

Train Rider's Log

Here are some examples of the erratic C-Train service that makes our transit a lot less than perfect.
  • 2010-Jun-22: A live map of the current location of all the trains in the London Underground has now been constructed - this is what I'd like to see on Calgary transit's LRT system. Then we will be able to watch drivers play "follow the leader" or "tag", where the lead train is the slowest at each station (as it has the most people getting on and off) and the trains behind it play "catch up" rather than staying back and keeping service evenly distributed. And don't tell me this doesn't happen, I see this very often as I walk past SAIT in the evening and see three or four trains head north within a period of less than 10 minutes - sometimes with only a single minute between trains. [9225]

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