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Boost to northeast Calgary transit service planned for late 2023

Some northeast Calgary routes have seen a 380 per cent increase in ridership when comparing data from 2019 and 2023, according to Calgary Transit.

Coun. Raj Dhaliwal said that he’s cautiously optimistic about a boost to transit in northeast Calgary, but further details are needed.

Dhaliwal raised the issue during Question Period at the Oct. 3 public hearing meeting of council, noting routes at capacity, with many riders being left behind on overcapacity buses.

“People are just asking this question. They’re very frustrated because ridership is there, but there’s not enough service,” Coun. Dhaliwal told LWC on Tuesday.

“Sometimes they’re waiting at a bus stop for like 40 minutes, the bus shows up and it’s just fully packed and they just can’t even get on it. So, it’ll be another 40 minutes.”

Dhaliwal brought up that routes like 128 in Cornerstone and Redstone and 145 in Skyview Ranch and Redstone are among the best-performing routes in terms of revenue per hour of service. Calgary Transit confirmed that overload rates in September show Route 145 had the most, followed by Max Orange and then Route 301 BRT.

“I’m just struggling, because here we are trying to make our city more transit-friendly, we are in the midst of a climate emergency,” he said.

In council, Coun. Dhaliwal said that there are 107,000 people in northeast Calgary; the population grew by 4.5 per cent in the last census, and many of these citizens rely on Calgary Transit for service.

Calgary Transit Director Sharon Fleming said that they’ve been talking with communities in Ward 5 over the past year on potential route reviews. New service and expanded service will be launched in many of these communities by December.

“Evaluating and updating transit infrastructure project list is a joint effort by a cross-corporate team to ensure future transit capital projects align with planned city growth and other infrastructure projects to maximize return on investment and benefit to Calgarians,” she said.

Six routes under review

Calgary Transit confirmed that five routes are under service review, and one new route is being proposed for the area. There was an online portal open to review some of these routes.

“Across Calgary, in all wards, we are experiencing strong demand for public transit services,” read an email response from Calgary Transit.

“The routes under review as part of the Northeast Transit Service Review have experienced ridership increases between 130% to 380% when comparing data from 2019 September to 2023 September.”

Calgary Transit confirmed new service for Cornerstone and Corner Meadows, plus improved service in Redstone, Skyview Ranch, Cityscape and Savanna. They said it will also provide better crosstown connections to the airport, and North Pointe Terminal in north central Calgary (Route 301 main terminus).

“The improved Routes 128 and 145 are purposefully designed to provide a two-way service in the community and address the number of overloads currently experienced,” read the Calgary Transit response.

“Route 136 will provide ‘introductory’ transit service (as defined in RouteAhead) to a community that only began development five years ago and the road network, dwellings, and services are still building out.”

Details on options that were considered by Calgary Transit can be found here.

Coun. Dhaliwal said he was happy to hear that more service was planned for December. Still, he remains cautiously optimistic, awaiting further details.

“I am optimistic that at least it’s on their radar, in the forefront of their plans,” he said.

“I’m looking for details. The devils in the details, right?”