Rapid transit hits speed bumps with delays, confusion
Some commuters found themselves on wrong line, waiting longer for Max buses
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.
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.