Calgary Transit is reporting a 3.5 per cent increase in ridership, saying it’s the first time in four years it has seen that kind of growth.
The number of combined CTrain and bus trips in 2018 was 105.3 million, up from 101.9 million the year before.
Calgary Transit director Doug Morgan attributes the increase in ridership in part to the introduction of the city’s new MAX rapid transit lines.
“We did introduce the new MAX service in November of 2018 and we’re just seeing early indications of the performance of that system,” Morgan said.
The three MAX lines — Purple, Orange and Teal — already average 7,640 rides every weekday.
“I think the changes we’re making are having an impact,” Morgan said. “We’re making sure we’re being efficient, we’re reallocating some of our services to make sure we’re meeting the demands of customers and we’re also looking at the quality of that service.”
MAX transit lines, for example, have heated shelters, larger platforms, real-time arrival displays, bright lighting and CCTV security cameras.
“I think the new stations give you a different feeling than the bus stops have in the past,” Morgan said. “I think those kinds of things just make it easier to ride the bus.”
WATCH: Doug Vaessen talks to passengers on one of the new MAX transit lines
Morgan says the popularity of the new MAX lines suggest transit ridership is shifting toward more of an overall growth across the city.
“The downtown is still struggling but we are seeing increasing as far as crosstown routes,” Morgan said.
The new southwest MAX transit line is expected to be launched next fall. It’s projected ridership will be 12,500 customers a day by 2024.
“Our long term target for MAX over 10 years is about 19,000 passengers per day,” Morgan explained.
The increase in transit ridership in 2018 comes after several years of declines.
“There was one year we were down seven per cent and we were quite concerned,” Morgan said.
“We are seeing the CTrain recover from that dip we had a few years ago,” he added. “We are seeing some of that growth occur outside of the downtown core; better ridership at university and SAIT.”
Morgan says customer satisfaction with Calgary Transit sits at about 88 per cent, according to the latest numbers.