News / Calgary

Report throws cold water on Calgary streetcar revival, some say prematurely

Bringing streetcars back to Calgary would be far too costly and the city should instead look to dedicated bus lanes to create a core-area transit loop, according to a new report.

Estimated construction costs for four proposed streetcar routes ranged from $120 million to $210 million, plus an additional $20 to $32 million to buy a fleet of streetcars and another $150 million for a new storage and maintenance facility.

Bus-based routes, by comparison, would only cost between $400,000 and $700,000 to build and between $3 million and $4 million for new vehicles, according to the report, due up at the city’s transportation and transit committee Wednesday.

But William Hamilton of TransitCamp YYC believes city administrators are being too quick to rule out streetcars.

"I think that cold water has been thrown on the project quite prematurely," he said. “We need to look at the whole picture before rejecting a solution.”

A bus-based inner-city transit loop would be a good start, Hamilton added, but he noted streetcars are highly efficient at moving large amounts of people and should not be dismissed as a future “mode progression” as the Beltline grows in population.

Coun. Evan Woolley said the streetcar idea remains “interesting” and should be kept, if not on the back burner, “on a burner of some sort,” but it isn’t his top priority.

Instead, he said the immediate focus should be on improving transit trips within the city’s core, rather than just commuting in and out of it.

“We need to deal with how we can start something now,” Woolley said.

A chart of estimated costs from the city report:

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