Calgary looking at traction options for city buses

A stuck Calgary Transit bus on Oct. 2, 2018. A snowy blast made for a challenging commute. Courtesy Darcy Craig

The head of the Calgary’s transportation department says Calgary Transit is looking at different options to improve traction for city buses on days of heavy snow — but that doesn’t mean snow tires.

Michael Thompson said Calgary Transit did a trial project a decade ago and equipped a number of articulated buses with snow tires.

“We found that it didn’t actually make a difference on the traction and we only got about 20,000 kilometres out of those tires,” Thompson said. “From an economic point of view, it didn’t make sense.”

READ MORE: Calgary Transit union looks for ways to help drivers during harsh winter conditions

“The city of Ottawa and the National Research Council also did a test on different types of tires and found that the all-season tires that our transit buses use and most transit agencies across the country use are actually the best tires for snow conditions, typically.”

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During question period at the start of Monday’s city council meeting, Thompson said a number of municipalities are looking at different options.

“We know that TransLink in Vancouver looked at things like traction socks to put on their tires for extreme events. Yes, a sock that actually slips on similar to a chain that you would see on large trucks. So, we are going to investigate different options.”

READ MORE: This is the snowiest October Calgary has ever had — and the month has just begun

Thompson said it was a challenge a couple of weeks ago when Calgary International Airport recorded 38.1 centimetres of snow — four times the normal amount for the entire month of October.

He also said the inspection of transit vehicle tires occurs every 10,000 kilometres.

“That’s about every two to three months. As part of that inspection, we look at the tread depth on the tires and we replace all tires at 5/32nds tread depth, no matter what the season is,” Thompson said.

“We have a frequent inspection that’s actually more frequent than required by the province requires for other commercial carriers.”

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