Opponents say no, the city says yes
It’s a frigid, windy day and the bus doesn’t seem like it will ever make it to the stop where people are shivering, fidgeting and waiting.
This is a frustrating scene for Calgarians who take transit to corners of the city where the C-Train does not reach, though the city is attempting to improve the service, particularly in the southwest quadrant.
“The Southwest is under-served by transit,” said transit department spokesperson Julie Yepishina-Geller. With the proposed changes, a bus commute that would normally take an hour and half could soon only take 30 minutes, she added.
The plan for the southwest is to have a Bus Rapid Transitway (BRT) route that runs from downtown to the community of Woodbine, which borders Fish Creek Park. It will provide connections to destinations such as Glenmore Landing mall, Heritage Park, Rockyview Hospital, Mount Royal University, and to communities along the way including Currie Barracks, Marda Loop and Haysboro among others.
The new Transitway construction will include:
– Extension of Crowchild Trail’s bus-only lanes
– New bus-only lanes along 14th Street S.W.
– A new underpass structure for buses at 14th Street and 90th Avenue S.W., adjacent to Glenmore Landing
– Modifications to the existing pedestrian overpass at 75th Avenue S.W in front of the hospital
– New bus stops along the route that will include canopies, heated shelters and real-time traveller information
But not all of the city’s southwest residents are on board with the changes.
“I believe a good transit system is what we need but this is not a good plan,” said Rick Donkers – a spokesperson for a concerned citizen’s group called Ready to Engage.
“I’m a regular transit user. I take the C-Train before and after work; the buses don’t work for me,” said Donkers.
On Jan. 21, the group met with about 600 Calgarians for an information forum to discuss the southwest route.
During the forum, one of the city representatives, Emma Stevens acknowledged that some people aren’t too happy with the proposed plans.
“The main concerns we heard were around the impact on parks space, parking overall and transit oriented development.”
Many of the attendees at the public event came to sign a petition to stop the proposed bus route, but others came with questions for the city representatives who also attended the forum.
One of the concerns expressed by Calgarians is parking lot developments and parking on residential streets, which may limit access by residents to the area.
Stevens said city representatives talked with concerned citizens about parking and land use. She explained that parking lots are not in Calgary Transit’s plans for the bus route and parking lots like Park and Ride are not part of the city’s ownership.
Stevens also said nothing has been rezoned for development in the areas that will be near the new route. Parks and private or public land will not be affected by the plans for the Southwest BRT route.
Transit spokesperson Yepishina-Geller explained further, “The two lanes that are being added to 14th Street will be constructed within pre-existing roads, meaning no private or public land will be used.”
Yepishina-Geller also said the city is aware of the concerns of residents in the area and has been in contact with people who may be affected by the route, particularly residents concerned with streets that may become busier with the number of parked cars.
The City wishes to keep the public informed, however on Feb. 24, Mayor Nenshi announced that future information sessions on the project would be cancelled, according to Calgary.ca. The Southwest Transitway project team will continue to meet with community association representatives to discuss specific community concerns. Details on how to provide feedback about the project will be available online.
Thumbnail by Jaline Perfect
Graphic courtesey of Calgary.ca
The editor responsible for this article is Dan Ball, firstname.lastname@example.org