West leg of LRT sparks concerns for commuters
Calgary Transit says LRT will cut down on travel time to downtown
The new west leg of Calgary's light rail transit (LRT) system is supposed to make commutes into downtown Calgary faster, but some Calgarians worry it will only increase their travel time.
After the LRT opens — sometime next spring — several bus routes that had previously fed into the city will instead take passengers to one of six west LRT stations.
The move is being touted as one that will save commuters roughly five to 15 minutes of travel time.
Neil McKendrick, Calgary's manager of transit planning, says officials are confident this will improve travel for those headed downtown.
"We're pretty confident we've probably got about 90 per cent of it right," McKendrick said.
"Whenever you do one of these things, you're going to uncover things as people start using it that maybe we can improve on."
But many public transit users in the city worry that the rerouting will only slow them down.
Bow Trail and 17th Avenue will no longer have buses headed to and from the core. Instead, buses will travel north and south to take commuters to one of the LRT stations.
Laura Buckingham moved to Wildwood for quicker access to the core. Typically when she goes to work, she takes the bus and averages a time of half an hour.
Next year, when buses become north-south routes and LRTs take people west or east to downtown, Buckingham said she believes her commute could increase by an extra 20 minutes.
"It'll be just less convenient," she said. "Right now, I get on one bus and it takes me straight to work."
But Calgary Transit says there is not enough capacity for buses along those routes at the moment.
With no buses to downtown, the traffic coordinator in the Glendale community, Grant McArthur, worries trains will run out of space.
"I think part of their concern is that, are they going to get a seat on the LRT or are they doing to have to do like some people do on the south leg, where they'll jump on at Southland and take it down to the end so they have a seat all the way downtown," McArthur said.
Calgary Transit says it has been holding open houses, community meetings and doing trial runs on the new feeder routes to make sure they are as efficient as possible.
As well, many of these new routes will work to the city's advantage as Calgary grows, according to officials.