News / Calgary

Transit cuts will leave some riders waiting an extra half hour

Frequency of certain routes set to be diminished, but council has yet to decide which will be trimmed

Calgary Transit has found a way to save $6.8 million by shaving hours off certain routes. Some would lose weekend service, others might see the frequency drop anywhere from 5 minutes to a half hour.

Jennifer Friesen / Calgary Freelance

Calgary Transit has found a way to save $6.8 million by shaving hours off certain routes. Some would lose weekend service, others might see the frequency drop anywhere from 5 minutes to a half hour.

Transit cuts are almost definitely coming, but Mayor Naheed Nenshi thinks they’re palatable.

Councillors saw two options for cuts to services. Level one cuts would impact 14 routes, eliminate 20,000 hours of service, and impact over 36,000 riders each week.

Level two cuts would impact a further 13 routes, eliminate a further 26,800 hours of service, and impact more than 56,000 riders in total.

Enacting level 2 cuts would save the city $6.83 million for 2018.

However the cuts, made public at Tuesday’s meeting, don't involve eliminating entire routes but instead tinker with frequency.

For instance, under the level 1 cuts, the Number 2 would see mid-day frequency drop from every 15 minutes to every 20 minutes.

Some routes could see frequency change by 30 minutes. A few routes would lose weekend service.

They’re changes Mayor Naheed Nenshi called low impact.

“Any time someone’s bus route changes, it’s going to hurt people in some way, but going from 30 to 35 minutes, especially with real-time tracking on the transit app, people can plan their day,” said the mayor.

Transit boss Doug Morgan said if changes are made, riders will get plenty of notice.

“Usually we know three to four weeks out. We don’t like to do it too quickly but we like to give them two week’s notice,” he said.

Reduction in service doesn’t mean that Calgary Transit is scaling back on innovation. Morgan explained that a rideshare pilot is coming in the first or second quarter of 2018.

The pilot would have the city using ride-share services such as Uber to get transit users to the next nearest transit stop on demand, in low-use routes.

“Even in industrial areas where it's low ridership. We need another tool and really we see that as some of the future strategies to help us support these larger capacity networks we’re providing, such as the Green Line and the BRT," said Morgan

Nenshi said he remembers dial-a-stop and on-demand transit services that were available when he was young, and he's waiting to see how the pilot goes.

"Given new technologies like car2go, like Uber, there may be opportunity to think about that last mile in a different way," he said.

Councillors discussed the matter Tuesday, but won't vote on whether they’ll agree to level one cuts, level two cuts, or attempt to make some minor changes through amendments, according to Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

“Councillors, if they want, can make amendments to pick off one route at a time, but they probably have to have a really good explanation as to how they know more than administration," Nenshi said.

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