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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Transit Budget Questions Answered

City Administration thanks Calgarians so much for their comments, questions and insights into the 2011 Business Plan and Budget Adjustments. Many of your questions have focused on Transportation, and below we have some answers to the questions you have posed.

There have been many questions regarding Calgary Transit, so have grouped our answers together:

Proposed Adjustments
What was proposed was a reduction in the proposed growth of Calgary Transit service levels. In fact, Calgary Transit’s expansion plans as envisioned in the Calgary Transportation Plan (CTP) are already underway, and funding is included in the 2011 budget to continue with these projects, among others:

  • Over $1 billion in LRT expansion is funded that will begin operation between 2012 and 2014. West LRT and extensions to the Northeast LRT (to Martindale and Saddletowne) and the Northwest LRT (to Tuscany) will result in 12.8 km of new LRT lines, making service available to almost 150,000 more Calgarians;
  • Four-car LRT platform extensions are underway at over 30 existing stations, enabling the introduction of 4-car train operation by 2014;
  • 38 new light rail vehicles are being delivered between 2010 and 2012;
  • Electronic Fare Collection will be piloted in 2011, offering convenient payment options to transit customers;
  • Passenger Information Systems are being deployed on the LRT system and on buses in 2011 and 2012, offering real-time, up-to-the-minute information on transit arrivals and service disruptions; and
  • Transit priority improvements are being introduced to improve bus operations and save transit customers time. An example is the transit-only lane on northbound Crowchild Trail entering the downtown, which is used by several bus routes from south Calgary.

In short, The City is getting public transit facilities in place through a capital construction program (using funding available through grants from the federal and provincial governments, in addition to City capital funds). The future, as envisioned in the CTP and the land use plans in the Municipal Development Plan (MDP), has The City moving toward a higher level of public transit service using these facilities combined with land use intensification adjacent to transit facilities. Without future land use intensification, it is more difficult for The City to justify growth in transit service hours.

How can we improve transit service without increasing or decreasing the budget? Have we been researching other cities to learn from their tactics?

Transit improvements

‘Improvements’ to transit service can mean a variety of things – comfort; accessibility; safety; security; directness; speed and cleanliness are all factors. In broad terms, the CTP, while envisioning the future, also provides a great deal on information on how transit can work better in order to serve citizens and customers. We have looked at other cities around the world where transit systems are very strong (high usage). Those cities have a combination of dense development that can provide more riders and shorter trips. This, combined with positive citizen attitudes toward transit usage makes those services more productive, which then drives more routes and greater frequency, thus making it much more convenient for customers.

Strategies and Options
Calgary Transit has some fairly progressive strategies to keep costs down including various vehicle types to match demand more closely. We are constantly looking at new advances including scheduling, vehicle technologies, and customer interaction services. We meet with western cities on a quarterly basis to discuss initiatives. We also attend CUTA (Canadian Urban Transit Association) conferences twice per year. Calgary Transit is also a member of UITP (International Association of Public Transit) which provides information on transit initiatives across the globe. In essence there are lots of options but the question is complex and no answer will be easy or free.

Snow and Ice Control
This isn't related to Transit but is a part of the Transportation Department.

Roads crews work tirelessly around the clock making best efforts to ensure Calgary roads are safe for commuters and motorists. Snow and ice control operations are based on a council approved policy. Calgary does not have a bare-pavement policy, however commits to providing reasonable winter driving conditions in the winter months by using a variety of tactics and materials. With 15,000 lane kilometres of roadway covering nearly 800 square kilometres of area, Calgary’s roads are treated on a priority basis, with the busiest roads being tackled first.
Calgary Transportation would like to thank Calgarians for their keen interest in their and would like to encourage people to continue submitting questions or comments.

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