City set to launch MAX bus rapid transit lines in November

They've been called LRT "lite." The city's new, $300-million bus rapid transit system will offer heated shelters, fewer stops and greater frequency.

Three of the city's four new lines will roll Nov. 19; southwest BRT due late 2019

Calgary Transit says the new MAX bus rapid transit lines cost about $300 million. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

The secret, closely guarded launch date of Calgary's new bus rapid transit lines has finally been revealed.

New colours and a new name, the MAX bus lines, will roll out Nov. 19, covering the southeast, north and south.

"We've always been fall of 2018 for these three routes and being in service," said Sean Somers, spokesperson for the city's transportation department.

"I don't think we're necessarily behind," he said Monday.    

City council approved a $366,000 marketing and promotion campaign for the new MAX system last summer.

The southeast line will be purple, the north line will be orange and the south line will be, wait for it, teal.

The section in red shows the southeast transit-only bus line, which includes new bridges over a canal, Deerfoot and the Bow. (City of Calgary)

The city's new BRT lines — including the southwest line, which is still under construction — are expected to cost $304 million. 

The southeast line is a massive project that includes a re-build of 17th Avenue S.E. between 26th Street and Hubalta Road, and three new, transit-only spans over the Bow River, Deerfoot Trail and the Western Irrigation District canal. Its price tag has been pegged at $181 million.

It will run along that stretch of 17th Avenue and connect to 9th Avenue S.E. in Inglewood.

The North Crosstown line will run between the Brentwood and Saddletowne LRT stations — with a lot of stops along the way, including the Alberta Children's Hospital and Foothills Medical Centre.

The South Crosstown route will run from Douglas Glen in the southeast to Westbrook in the southwest.

"It's effectively a 'lite' LRT," said Somers.

He says there will be fewer stops with greater frequency than traditional bus service — the goal is to get passengers to their destinations quicker.

The new name, "MAX," is meant to be a play on "maximum," as in the maximum level of service for customers. Some of the new shelters will be heated — a good thing since the buses are now set to roll on a potentially frigid Calgary day in November.

About the Author

Bryan Labby

Enterprise reporter

Bryan Labby is an enterprise reporter with CBC Calgary. If you have a good story idea or tip, you can reach him at or on Twitter at @CBCBryan.


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