Rapid tran­sit hits speed bumps with de­lays, con­fu­sion

Some com­muters found them­selves on wrong line, wait­ing longer for Max buses

Calgary Herald - - CITY + REGION - RYAN RUM­BOLT RRum­[email protected]­media.com On Twit­ter: @RCRum­bolt

Cal­gary’s new rapid tran­sit lines weren’t all that rapid for some riders dur­ing the first few days of ser­vice, but the city says de­lays and route mix-ups are only tem­po­rary set­backs.

The $304-mil­lion Max tran­sit ser­vice launched Mon­day with three rapid tran­sit bus routes link­ing the down­town and CTrain lines to more far-flung ar­eas of the city.

And while mod­ern fea­tures — such as ded­i­cated bus lanes, GPS track­ing, fewer stops and heated bus shel­ters — are in­tended to stream­line tran­sit ser­vice, some users found they were wait­ing longer for what should have been a rapid ride.

A lit­tle more than 24 hours into the Max tran­sit launch on Tues­day af­ter­noon, riders wait­ing on the Pur­ple route (serv­ing East Hills, For­est Lawn, In­gle­wood and down­town) ex­pe­ri­enced de­lays ex­ceed­ing 15 min­utes at around 4 p.m.

A few hours later, riders were forced to wait as much as an ad­di­tional half-hour for the rapid bus.

Route 1, which also runs on the ded­i­cated bus lanes used by the Max Pur­ple line, ex­pe­ri­enced de­lays as high as 30 min­utes.

De­lays on those routes were also re­ported Wed­nes­day.

The launch of the Max lines was ac­com­pa­nied by big changes to dozens of other bus routes across the city, caus­ing some con­fu­sion among riders.

Some Cal­gar­i­ans found them­selves on the wrong line or wait­ing for buses due to route changes, de­spite city of­fi­cials urg­ing com­muters to plan ahead be­fore Mon­day ’s change.

Tereasa Mail­lie doesn’t own a car and takes tran­sit or ride-shar­ing when she and her hus­band need to get around town.

On Wed­nes­day, Mail­lie said she waited about 40 min­utes for the Max Or­ange line at a stop near Tem­ple Drive and 53rd Street N.E.

“I thought there was sup­posed to be a sign or some­thing to tell me when the bus would come,” she said of the Max line’s real-time in­for­ma­tion dis­plays, which she said were not work­ing at the stop. “I get that (Cal­gary Tran­sit are) try­ing to do their best job, but 30 min­utes for a bus that’s sup­posed to be faster?”

Lisa Sue wrote to Cal­gary Tran­sit on Mon­day, say­ing she re­lies on the buses to get her kids to school but the “buses (are) show­ing up late al­ready.”

“You prob­a­bly should have rolled this out over a week­end in­stead of a Mon­day morn­ing to get the kinks out,” she wrote on Face­book. “This was very poorly done.”

Jade Miller said on Face­book she “can’t get any­where in the city un­der an hour” since the changes were in­tro­duced, say­ing “get­ting around the neigh­bour­hood is im­pos­si­ble.”

Nikhil Lobo, man­ager of tran­sit projects with the city, said the hic­cups in Max ser­vice are due to riders get­ting used to changes and driv­ers ad­just­ing to the new routes.

“It’s re­ally just a com­bi­na­tion of a few mi­nor things,” Lobo said. “With any new ser­vice or with any tran­sit ser­vice you’re go­ing to have fac­tors out­side of our con­trol.”

Lobo said the Max routes don’t al­ways run on ded­i­cated bus routes, mean­ing heavy traf­fic con­ges­tion in cer­tain ar­eas, es­pe­cially in and around the down­town, can cause de­lays.

Tran­sit oper­a­tions con­trollers and su­per­vi­sors “ac­tively man­age the ser­vice” dur­ing the Max roll­out by “ad­just­ing the fre­quency to the sched­ule,” adding Cal­gary Tran­sit has “floater ve­hi­cles” to help shut­tle riders in case of sig­nif­i­cant de­lays, Lobo said.

There are cur­rently three Max tran­sit lines — the north­ern crosstown Or­ange line, the Pur­ple line run­ning from For­est Lawn through In­gle­wood to down­town, and the Teal line run­ning crosstown in the south.

A fourth South­west Max line be­tween down­town and Wood­bine is sched­uled to start run­ning in 2019.

City of­fi­cials have said the four new Max lines will im­prove ser­vice de­liv­ery to 53 com­mu­ni­ties and more than 320,000 res­i­dents, with an­tic­i­pated rider­ship on the MAX routes grow­ing to more than 30,000 daily trips by 2024.

For more in­for­ma­tion on route changes and the Max tran­sit lines, visit www.cal­gar­y­tran­sit.com.

DAR­REN MAKOWICHUK/FILES

From left, di­rec­tor of Cal­gary Tran­sit Doug Mor­gan, Al­berta Min­is­ter of Trans­porta­tion and Gov­ern­ment House Leader Brian Ma­son, MP Kent Hehr, Fed­eral Min­is­ter of In­fra­struc­ture and Com­mu­ni­ties Fran­cois-Philippe Cham­pagne, Mayor Na­heed Nen­shi and Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra cheer on the three new MAX lines at the new 33 St. SE sta­tion plat­form last week.

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