Calgary

Calgary Transit may soon go east to Chestermere

Calgary Transit may soon offer its first bus service outside of city boundaries.

Plan involves extending existing Max Purple bus rapid transit service to Chestermere

Calgary Transit could soon offer bus service outside city boundaries if a proposal set to be discussed next week is approved. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

Calgary Transit may soon offer its first bus service outside of city boundaries.

On Thursday, city council's intergovernmental affairs committee approved a plan to have city officials open negotiations with the City of Chestermere on a regional transit service agreement.

The plan is to extend the existing Max Purple bus rapid transit service to Chestermere, five kilometres east of Calgary's boundary.

The initial proposal would be to offer two buses during both the morning and evening rush hours, making several stops in Chestermere.

The acting head of transit planning for the city, Misty Sklar, says Chestermere hired a consultant to work on a feasibility study for regional transit and Calgary collaborated with that effort.

"It is important to note that Calgary Transit is not seeking to be a regional service provider but to ensure integrated service experience in the region and to improve attractiveness and encourage mode choice," she said.

In this case, she said extending the Max Purple line eastward is the only intended expansion of service outside of the city.

No extra costs

At council's direction, administration will require that any agreement on providing transit service should not cost the City of Calgary any additional money.

It's estimated the service would cost $170,000 a year.

Chestermere's council approved a motion exploring the regional transit idea and Mayor Marshall Chalmers sent a letter to the City of Calgary in early November.

"Chestermere is committed to working collaboratively with the City of Calgary and believes this project will benefit the residents and businesses of both our municipalities," wrote Chalmers.

To start, it's estimated there could be 80 to 160 one-way trips provided each day on the service.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he'd be happy to support the extension of the Max Purple service to Chestermere.

Besides giving Chestermere residents better access to east Calgary and downtown, he said there would be other benefits to offering this transit service.

"It removes cars from other cities coming into the city, wear and tear on the roads. It's got a benefit to greenhouse gas emissions. It helps Calgary Transit improve its ridership," said Nenshi.

City council will discuss the proposal next week. If it approves starting negotiations with Chestermere officials, it's anticipated that reaching an agreement would clear the way for the bus service to start later in 2021.

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