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Calgary Transit’s MAX Yellow set for maiden voyage

For many commuters in SW Calgary, the introduction of Calgary Transit’s MAX Yellow Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on Dec. 23 is a Christmas present come early.

For nearly two years, traffic along 14 Street SW had been in a snarl as construction on the line was undertaken.

Now, however, commuters will enjoy a smoother ride up the southwest Calgary corridor, and much better transit connectivity in the area, with the route that runs from Woodbine into the downtown.

Upgrades along the MAX Yellow line

Anne Cataford, manager of major transit projects with the city, said most of the construction is complete, with some sound wall work remaining. Crews will be back out in the spring with a few minor projects.

“We’ve also got some paving and some other work that will carry over into next year,” Cataford said.

Cataford said that along with the dedicated lanes for the buses, there are new stations along the route, shoulder widening done along Glenmore Trail (similar to Crowchild Trail), a new pedestrian bridge at 90Avenue and intersection upgrades at Southland Drive and 14 Street SW.

These improvements have been built with current accessible design standards in mind, including with higher rails to improve safety for cyclists.

“So really, some improvements for all modes in the area,” Cataford said.

20 Calgary Transit bus routes affected

Asif Kurji, acting manager of transit planning for the City of Calgary. DARREN KRAUSE / LIVEWIRE CALGARY

The $65.6 million MAX Yellow is the last of the city’s major planned BRT pieces, with the other MAX lines put into operation late last year. When the other lines opened, it affected 59 bus routes. The opening of the Yellow line will also affect several Calgary Transit bus routes.

Asif Kurji, acting manager of transit planning for the City of Calgary, said 20 bus routes will be altered with the opening of the MAX Yellow line. While none were completely eliminated, Kurji said a handful were modified quite a bit. (Details on changes can be found here.)

The biggest changes will be that many of the new bus routes will drop off at the MAX Yellow stations instead of taking commuters to the Red Line. When they’re travelling through the neighbourhoods they’re on the same route, but the destination is different, he said.

“The modifications to the bus routes are now taking advantage of the infrastructure that was put into place and so having better access to some of the key destinations in southwest Calgary like Rockyview Hospital, like Southland Leisure Center, so folks can have more of a direct trip to get to the destinations they need to go,” Kurji said.

There was significant public engagement over the past six months, Kurji said, to make sure Calgary Transit commuters were still able to reach their necessary destinations with the changes.

Kurji said when they launch Monday (Dec. 23), there will be six MAX buses on the route, with pick ups every 10 minutes during the peak rush hour period. Outside the peak, buses will service the stations every 20 to 25 minutes.

Other buses will be using the MAX Yellow infrastructure.

Council questions on how MAX Yellow public feedback will be handled

Questions over the routing came up in city council’s question period Monday, with area councillor Jeromy Farkas asking about how the city will respond to feedback from customers along the route.

“I understand a lot of the rationale for the changes that are made. And I think we’re putting this out there to Calgarians to give these new routes a shot,” Farkas said, then asking about the process for review.

Calgary Transit director Doug Morgan said they would take the same approach as they did with the other MAX lines. They would do reviews after three and six months to ensure they were making appropriate adjustments based on the feedback and traffic patterns.

“If there’s an acute problem, we will take action more quickly and make sure that we can serve those customers,” Morgan said.

Kurji said on Monday that Calgary Transit will have staff in a number of places along the route to help make sure passengers are making the right route choices to get to their destination.