Calgary Transit is ready to launch three new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines on Nov. 19.
To kick off the new service, business owners, transit users and elected officials attended a celebration at 17 Avenue S.E. and 32 Street S.E. on Saturday.
“The city and the province have truly made a beautiful future for International Avenue and for all who live in east Calgary and work here,” said Alison Karim-McSwiney, executive director of the International Avenue Business Revitalization Zone.
MAX Purple, which runs along 17 Avenue S.E. and into the core, includes bridges over Deerfoot Trail and the province’s first signaled U-turn lanes for transit ways. The U-turns are required to accommodate another first for the city: buses that run down the median, bypassing the congestion. But it also means reducing places for drivers to cross 17 Avenue S.E.
“When we built the transit in the median, we decreased some of the permeability or the crossing of 17th Ave. So in order to allow vehicles to get to businesses on the opposite side of the road, we installed a new system for U-turn signals so there is some additional signage as well as new signal heads,” said Anne Cataford, transit project manager with the City of Calgary.
MAX Orange is the city’s new north crosstown route that will link the Foothills Hospital, the University of Calgary, SAIT, the Peter Lougheed Centre and the Genesis Centre.
MAX Teal, the south crosstown route, will connect Mount Royal University, the Rockyview Hospital and Douglas Glen Park.
“It’s about helping people get to where they need to go more quickly and that is ultimately an investment in people’s quality of life,” said Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
Transit officials are warning commuters to be prepared on Monday as some routes will be changed and 17 will be retired.
Calgary Transit said the changes are all based on public feedback and an effort to get people to major destinations.
“Some of these routes have been revised in order to provide better connection to places that Calgarians have told us they want to travel to,” said Nikhil Lobo, Calgary Transit planning manager.
“It’s an optimization process,” he added. “It’s based on things like ridership as well as connectivity. As the city changes, we are looking at providing connections especially in some of the industrial areas and growing employment centres, so we revised some of the routes in order to provide better connections to those areas as well.”
The city said service on the BRT lines is expected to be more reliable now with the bus-only lanes. The fourth MAX route to the southwest is set to open in fall 2019.