Snowtober wreaks havoc on Calgary Transit buses, delays commuters

A record-breaking dump of snow Tuesday delayed some Calgary commuters for hours and led to more than 80 buses getting stuck in traffic.

Record-breaking snowfall results in many, many photos of stuck buses, cold waits

Firefighters help dig a Calgary Transit bus out of the snow in the city's downtown. (Mike Symington/CBC)

A record-breaking dump of snow Tuesday delayed some Calgary commuters for hours and led to more than 80 buses getting stuck in traffic.

"Today was a bad day," Calgary Transit director Doug Morgan said. "It was a bad day for delays and stuck buses."

And the troubles aren't over yet. Much of southern Alberta is still under a snowfall warning from Environment Canada, with up to a 30 centimetres expected to fall in Calgary and as much as 45 centimetres in the Rocky Mountains.

The heavy, wet snow has covered many roads, which aren't expected to be fully clear Tuesday.

Buses on Routes 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 53, 54, 72, 73, 77, 93, 94, 305, 408 and 422 were on snow detour by 3 p.m. MT, and both the Red and Blue lines of the LRT were running several minutes behind schedule.

Other routes have temporary partial route changes or stop closures, all of which are detailed on the transit authority's website and Twitter account.

Watch this video of Calgary's snow-induced bus troubles:

Commuters with stops in the middle of hills are asked to wait at either the top or the bottom because buses that travel on hills are having trouble navigating the slippery roads.

Transit had staff reporting for duty at 3 a.m. MT and Calgary firefighters had to pitch in to move buses.

"I will be honest, we were challenged," Morgan said.

This Calgary Transit bus was blocking Royal Avenue S.W. diagonally between Seventh and Eighth Streets. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

Crews saw as many as 80 buses stuck in the peak morning rush hour. The buses were losing traction when driving close to curbs to pick up passengers, Morgan said.

Now the transit authority is getting ready for the evening commute by calling in extra staff and creating 20 teams designated to recover stuck buses.

Buses slid all over the road, like on Fifth Street S.W. This photo looking north from Eighth Avenue shows at least 10 Calgary Transit buses backed up due to one cutting off lanes of traffic.

This view of 5th Street S.W. from 8th Avenue looking north shows several stuck buses. (Stephen Graham)

Buses were so delayed at Heritage station, a group of nurses walked nearly three kilometres to Rockyview General Hospital — a 36-minute hike on a clear day, according to Google Maps.

The buses were struggling to get up the hill, and commuter Chelsea Dyer said she was considering trying to catch a cab instead of waiting for her bus to work.

"I'll definitely find a way to get there. Might take some time," she said.

In the south Calgary community of Altadore, Julia Williams spotted a Route 7 bus that had landed in someone's yard.

Reena Lal said it took her an hour to go by bus from Lakeview to Crowchild, and she waited another 40 minutes for her connection with no bus in sight.

But before she even left the house, she called her office to say she was likely to be late.

"That's Calgary for you," Lal said.

In downtown, one bus hit a fire hydrant near the Calgary Courts Centre.

This Calgary Transit bus got stuck near the Calgary Courts Centre and hit a fire hydrant. (Amanda Glynn)

Throughout the city, buses slipped and jackknifed, blocking oncoming traffic, like on Parkdale Boulevard eastbound at 29th Street N.W. in the morning.

Eastbound Parkdale Boulevard was blocked Tuesday morning at 29th Street N.W. by a Calgary Transit bus that jackknifed. (Pat Fogg/CBC)

"I don't know what we did but Mother Nature's mad," student Katie Madge said. "All I know is I've got to walk to school in this."

The hardest part of the commute involved the icy pedestrian bridges she had to take to reach the buses, she said.

"You have to do it really slowly. I just hope it's better by tonight when I have to go over it again," Madge said.

Two Calgary Transit buses got stuck Tuesday morning in this spot on Memorial Drive. (Francois Joly/Radio-Canada)

Rush hour commutes were delayed by hours for many, in part due to multiple transit buses that got stuck on Memorial Drive. 

Two buses blocked the eastbound lanes of Memorial shortly before 7 a.m.

Two buses blocked the eastbound lanes of Memorial shortly before 7 a.m. Calgary Transit said buses on Routes 2, 3, 4, 5, 72, 73, 93, and 94 were on snow detour Tuesday morning. (Tiphanie Roquette/Radio-Canada)

Another bus slipped and stalled turning from 10th Street N.W. onto Kensington Road, and another turning from 14th Street N.W. onto Kensington, further delaying traffic along the busy transit corridor.

Drivers had to be careful navigating the roads, especially on the slippery hills and at turns.

Three Calgary Transit buses had difficulty on Centre Street early Tuesday morning in the snowy conditions. (Sarah Lawrynuik)

Sometimes the tough conditions brought out the best in people.

Mike Seifert wrote in to thank three women who pushed him in his wheelchair from City Hall station to Brookfield Place, where he could access the Plus-15 system.

"I would still be stuck in the pile of snow that was pushed up in the curb cut at City Hall if it wasn't for them," Seifert said.

Share your own commuter tales in the comments and send photos to

With files from Carly Stagg and Mike Symington.


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