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Calgary Transit launches first-of-its-kind karaoke bus

Calgary Transit riders may be singing the praises of their bus rides soon.

Calgary Transit has launched a first of its kind in Calgary karaoke bus in an attempt to make riders feel welcome again using transit.

The bus made its first of many stops on July 6, at the Brentwood LRT Park and Ride station.

“This is part of our welcome back customer experience package, where we’re looking at ways to improve the customer experience as we build through recovery,” said Stephen Tauro, communications and information lead with Calgary Transit.

“We went through a hard two years, and so this is just one way of activating a transit space, but then also making the experience more fun for customers.”

The bus will be run in conjunction with, but not replacing any scheduled service. Tauro said that participation would be entirely voluntary for transit customers, and if they chose to take the karaoke bus, would be free to ride on.

As for which routes the bus would be servicing, Calgary Transit is keeping that a closely held secret for the time being in the hopes of making it a fun surprise for riders.

“The customer service component and the customer experience component has always been a really important factor for customers in terms of to whether it’s important to take transit, or enjoyable,” said Tauro.

“So really just adding this type of fun, bringing that fun back to transit, I think is key.”

Calgary Transit’s Karaoke Bus at the Brentwood LRT Station in Calgary on Wednesday, July 6, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

A new way of engaging Calgarians

And although karaoke has been a staple on private coaches and tour buses for decades, the bus appears to be a first of it’s kind for public mass-transit.

“We have never seen this before—it’s just an idea that we came up with in house and we thought we try it out,” said Tauro.

He called the idea a little bit of a risk for Calgary Transit, as they don’t have a projection for what the uptake will be and how effective the program will in getting riders back into seats.

He pointed out though that as of noon on Wednesday however, there was a line-up outside the bus to get on to sing a song.

“As you can see, the bus is packed and people are having fun,” he said.

Jennifer Ma was one of the Calgarians taking part in the start of the program on Wednesday. She said that she really enjoys karaoke, and wanted to try the bus out for herself.

“It’s pretty good, it brings people together, and people are happy and everyone gets to sing together which is nice,” she said.

As for whether she would ride the karaoke bus in the future, she emphatically said yes.

“I would love, it would be so fun.”

Bus received criticism on social media prior to launch

The City of Calgary and Calgary Transit were criticized on social media after they initially announced the bus was coming into service.

Chief among the criticisms was that there was the potential to further spread Covid-19 infections, in the face of rising cases nationally.

“This sounds super fun. Except, you know, the part where we have a growing 7th wave of a deadly and disabling pandemic, and masks aren’t required on transit, and singing is known to be extra efficient at spreading Covid to others,” wrote Dr. David Keegan on Twitter.

“Other than those things, this sounds fun,” he wrote.

The Government of Alberta lifted the remaining mask mandates, including those for transit users, on June 14.

Tauro addressed the public’s concern over the possibility of spreading Covid-19 by stating that Calgary Transit has put safety measures into place for the public.

The microphones used will have replaceable covers, and the karaoke machine has the option of being placed outside of the bus as well.

He emphasized though that no riders would be forced to take the karaoke bus to get where they want to go.

“This is voluntary. Jump on if you would like to perform,” said Tauro.