Calgary

Calgary Transit cuts service and mayor hopes more cuts aren't coming

As Calgarians return from their summer holidays and students head back to school this week, transit users may be noticing some changes to bus and CTrain service.

Transit service reductions now in effect after city's $60-million budget cut

A cut to Calgary Transit's budget may result in some transit users waiting longer for their bus or train. (Julie Debeljak/CBC)

As Calgarians return from their summer holidays and students head back to school this week, transit users may be noticing some changes to bus and CTrain service.

As part of the $60-million budget cut approved by city council to help pay for a rollback in business property taxes, 80,000 services hours have been cut at Calgary Transit.

Most of the changes include a reduction in bus frequency on a number of routes. But there will also be some longer waits between CTrains on weekends.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said people may be affected by the service changes which are now in effect.

"You may have to wait a few minutes longer for your bus," said Nenshi on Tuesday. 

Minimal impact

The mayor does have some praise for the way the cuts are being implemented.

"I think my colleagues at Calgary Transit have actually done a really good job of figuring out how to minimize that impact. Most of it is in non-peak periods. Most of it is in slightly longer frequency rather than removing routes or changing people's way of life so hopefully everything will be OK."

As a result of the budget cut approved by city council, 233 positions are being done away with at the city.

That figure includes 115 layoffs.

The city has said the transportation department is losing 43 positions as a result of this budget cut but no transit specific information is available.

Concern about transit 'death spiral'

Nenshi said he and his council colleagues will have some "real serious conversations" about any further cuts to Calgary Transit in this November's budget adjustment discussions.

While he doesn't feel the most recent cuts will dissuade people from using transit services, he is worried about the future.

"If you cut transit too much, people are just going to stop using it and then you get into a death spiral," said Nenshi. 

"We have to make sure we stay away from that level as best we can in our budget talks this fall."

When asked if he thought these September schedule changes would hurt ridership or convince people to give up transit, Nenshi said: "Not yet."

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