Calgary Transit Sucks

I was having a discussion with Doug down in the Bistro this morning, and I came to a rather interesting realization: Calgary Transit sucks.

Let’s have a realistic view, here. Calgary is the third or fourth largest city in Canada. We’re over a million people (we recently had our one millionth baby, but I suspect we’re actually well over that number in population). We have a massive city by area because Calgary hasn’t quite figured out that we should be building up, not out.

Calgary is attempting to address this fact by improving roads. Roads. As in expecting people to drive. Wow. There’s incentive to take public transit. Okay, in their defense, the C-Train will be up in the Northwest at Crowfoot Crossing in the next year or two. But not in the Northeast or in the effective places in the south, where the city is growing the fastest.

The bus system is a joke. Some parts of the city are well-served. But overall, it’s far from what this city needs. Ottawa at least had the smarts to put in bus routes that use their own roads, where cars cannot go. Calgary can’t do that because the roads are already filled with cars carrying a single person. I know — I used to be one of them.

A few months ago, I used to drive to work. Seven-odd kilometres one way. Fifteen minutes if I hit every light and got stuck behind slow people. I had a prime parking spot. It was everything I shouldn’t be doing. I live SEVEN kilometres from work. Why on earth would I drive? I decided in the spring to bike and bus. So far, the biking is going very well — I can get to work almost as fast as it took me to drive. Getting home takes a bit longer, but it’s mostly uphill.

The bus is a different story. Although the #7 is actually pretty convenient in the morning, the afternoon is another issue. I’ve been passed by at the stop near my office several times because the bus was full. (There were a couple of cases where the bus simply didn’t show up.) The telephone schedule is wildly inaccurate because the bus never actually follows that schedule.

The bus where I am is good compared to those poor folks who end up living on the outskirts of town. Bus service exists out there too, but the timing sucks. Somewhere, the person at Calgary Transit who sets the schedules needs to spend some time with the people who ride the bus and ask how it works for them. Based on all the people I’ve talked to, it’s not working.

There are a series of express buses designed to help funnel people in from the outer ring. For these people, it can cut as much as 50% off their commute time. But it doesn’t come without a price. People have to start earlier and have to leave early or face a long ride to and from work. One of my co-workers, Colin, has to run out at 16:55 sharp every day or face the prospect of a long ride home because he’ll miss the last express. The last one. Not the last for an hour … the last of the day.

What Einstein doesn’t know that most offices actually close at 17:00?

This baffles me beyond belief. Yes, some places in Calgary close earlier in the day, but not all of them. Many places are open until 17:00 or later. But too bad if you’re not one of the lucky few who actually close when Calgary Transit says you should. This insular ignorance of reality amazes me to no end. (The same problem exists with the West Coast Express in Vancouver. Vancouver runs more on the 9-5 workday than Calgary does!)

And lest you think that I’m just some rambling idiot (which I very well may be), my friend Tom has piped in with his own thoughts:

I figured moving to a company right downtown where the C-Train is close would be great. Not so. In order for me to catch the C-Train at the Dalhousie station, I have to be there before 06:40 just to get a parking spot. The Citadel bus (199) goes right past the Dalhousie station and feeds the Brentwood station. Where’s the logic in that? When the weather is nice, I get to ride my Hog-2-be to work (I double park in the bosses spot). Riding the bike takes 25 minutes from Citadel to downtown. Driving to Dalhousie and taking the train usually takes about 40 to 50 minutes. It costs in fuel for the bike $1.00 each way, transit – $2.25. Just to recap, when I can ride my bike, it takes half the time for less than half the price and I don’t need to squeeze myself on the homebound train, which of course is the last stop out of downtown going North West. Why in the world would I ever want to take Calgary Transit??? I am so looking forward to our company moving out of downtown and up on Centre street and 11th ave North in October where I will have my own parking spot and never have to rely on Calgary Transit again!

Calgary has a 15 year plan to expand all the C-Train stations to add a fourth car to the trains. And eventually they’ll get enough cars to handle the load. Already the trains are packed tight. We’ll need to hire some Japanese pushers to get everyone in before too long. We don’t need longer trains in 15 years — we need more trains now. We need to double the number of trains, and then use those cars to expand the three-car trains to four-car trains in the future. We need to expand the C-Train route to the southwest to Westhills, the southeast to Mackenzie Town, the north west to Tuscany, the northeast (admittedly, I don’t know the area up there that well), and for God’s sake, can we please run the C-Train to the airport? Would it really kill someone to think that Calgary should have a single route from the airport to downtown? Or am I being grossly naive here?

The bus routes, as Chris recently pointed out, are all undocumented. If you don’t live here, you have no idea where the bus is going or when it should come. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to put up schedules on the bus stops and put maps so people know where they’re going. Really smart bus companies show major routes so people know where to change to other routes. London has this figured out. Tokyo has it down to a science. Paris has it made. Honk Kong is a breeze. Calgary’s a frickin’ disaster.

And it costs a lot for the privilege, too. $2.25 by current prices. That doesn’t get you much. And Calgary Transit wonders why they’re losing money.

Someone please wake up and check out the reality of the city’s transportation needs? We’re grossly behind compared to other cities, and if we have any hope at all of stemming the tide of cars driving in and out of downtown, we need some common sense helping set the direction.

256 Replies to “Calgary Transit Sucks”

  1. If you guys think Calgary Transit sucks then you should take a look at Brampton Transit, Mississauga Transit, and the TTC. It seems like no matter what city you’re in everyone seems to think that their transit system is the worst.

    Let me shed some light from personal experience. To date, the worst transit systems I have ever been on are as follows
    a. Brampton Transit (City did not respond quickly enough to massive urban sprawl between 1998 and 2004). They are now just beginning to do just that. Imagine waiting 1 hour for the bus, 3 hours to get anywhere. In typical ontario fashion, no one cares.
    b. Mississauga: it used to be horrible in the early 90’s, not as much now though you do pay $2.50. The city is financially stable, but busses do not have their own dedicated lanes and traffic now is unmanageable. The square one to shoppers world route is one example.
    c. Toronto Transit. Subways are nice but think about Yonge and Bloor in the mornings/evenings. That or union station during the mornings/evenings. These stations needed to be twice as big 20 to 30 years ago.

    Calgary is bliss compared to those metropolises.

  2. Also, Calgary is expanding its transit system. Think about all the new c-train stations that are being built. In the last 10 years, brampton has only built 1 station. Well not even brampton, as Go-Transit (an inter-city) link is the one that built it. It’s already AT CAPACITY when it opened brand spanking new 3 years ago.

  3. Fair enough, there are other cities with major problems. I know from experience that Vancouver (or the GVRD, depending on where you live) isn’t the best — especially if you have to come into Vancouver from past New Westminster.

    But in all honesty, I don’t care about other cities. I care about the one I live in. And I care about whether they care. I’m now likely facing a return to public transit since I just found out how much I’m paying for parking (OUCH!), and I’m not looking forward to it. Waiting 30 minutes for a bus that’s supposed to come every 15, a transit strike with the difference being a measly percent (boy, I wish I could strike over a single percent in my pay without being fired), and a city that’s over twice the size of Brampton.

    And yes, Calgary is expanding, but at a brutally slow pace. And the news isn’t good, because Bronco’s killed off the west and south C-Train lines (“lack of money”), which will likely also mean lack of additional trains or ability to make longer trains. Adding buses does not help as the roads are already at capacity.

    So far, I see more talk than action from Calgary.

  4. Lots of good points. The express bus times is one that has really bugged me for a while – we’re supposed to be encouraged to work non-standard hours to reduce rush-hour congestion, and yet transit works on the assumption that everyone works from 7:30 to 4:30.

    The limited parking at park & rides is my other big annoyance. Community bus service is usually pretty lacking in most areas, and I can accept that it would be very expensive to have frequent buses to outlying communities. If they’d actually put enough parking at park & rides that people could drive there and take the c-train or BRT into downtown, they could take a lot of traffic off the streets (though of course they’d also have to add more c-train and BRT service, since both are already at or over capacity).

    There are also lots of little inefficiencies. I see the 144 (express) go by mostly empty all the time, while a huge number of people are waiting for the 301 (BRT), which goes to the same place, because the last couple of buses were full. However, the 144 only comes on a half-hour frequency and is never on time, so no one wants to sit waiting at the stop all evening, and it doesn’t stop close enough to the 301 that people could take whichever comes first. The other one is mostly empty community shuttles pulling away just as a packed bus from downtown is arriving – the other day there’d been a delay on the BRT with no buses for half an hour, and just as the first bus arrived at the park & ride all the community shuttles (on 45 minute schedules) left.

  5. Oy vey… the 301 is that bad? I take that route now. But if the 144 goes (roughly) the same route, that might be more appealing. Perhaps I should give that one a whirl a couple times and see how it goes. ‘Cuz my last two experiences with the 301 weren’t exactly stellar.

  6. I moved to the inner city a year or so ago thinking that this would alleviate some of my transit woes. Man, was I in for a suprise. I live in Renfrew and often have to travel through the core at times that aren’t 7:30-4:30. There is a bus in our community that goes downtown, the number 17. Imagine my suprise when I was told that this bus stops running after 6:24pm. I phoned transit and asked them what the rationalization was for this. They explained that since the bus basically rides around empty after 6pm, they don’t see a need to run it any longer.


    Of course it runs empty at that time. Who in their right mind would take a bus out of their community at 6pm if they have no way to get back? The only way of getting back to Renfrew is walking, or by a series of ridiculous connections that can take over an hour. In the winter, this just isn’t feasible.

    The real kicker? The number 17 DOES run after 6pm, it just doesn’t make it all the way to Renfrew. They basically take the existing route and condense it. I asked if it were possible to have the bus do it’s regular route after rush hour, but I received a flat out NO.

    Calgary Transit is pushing people to drive. They have no idea how to increase ridership.

    Every time I think about it, it makes me angry.

  7. I’ve found that there are a few buses that run after 6pm that shouldn’t, according to schedule.

    Consistency, people… all that I ask is freakin’ consistency.

  8. Calgary transit is a nightmare. Like your friend I take an express bus and have to dash from the office no latter then 5:00 pm. God help me if I have a meeting and miss the last bus because it will take me close to two hours to get home. Increasingly a new trend has arisen, the bus simply does not show up. Without warning, without notice the bus will simply not come. A call to the -1000 number at Calgary Transit produces a lame response that there was no drivers. So you wait for the next bus and its packed and there is a long trip down town holding on to the upper bar until you can no longer feel your arms and you fear that soon a blood clot will form and move to your brain. If you ran a private business like this it would be bankrupt in three weeks. The worst was last winter, the coldest night of the year, it was -35 deg. C. I stood there for over an hour and the bus did not come. I could not feel my hands or feet and pleaded with my wife to come and pick me up even though the streets were glare ice. Worse than this was the sight of a father clutching his four year old son in the cold waiting endlessly for the bus to arrive.

    An alternative is to drive to the C-Train, park there if you can find a spot, then cram on to train like livestock. If you get stuck by the door your in for a jostling match with the 20 or so people around you. Some times there is nothing to hold on to. Who knows how many people would be injured if the driver had to pile on the brakes. Close body contact means that there is a high likelihood that you may come down with a contagious disease. The guy standing next to you coughing sneezing and hacking will surely infect you and if your lucky it will simply be a cold and not tuberculosis.

    I remember ridding on electric trolley buses up and down Elbow Drive SW. I have seen it all and believe me this City’s transit system has gone down the toilet.

  9. I think I’m envious — not about the bus or train experiences (hence why I’m biking to and from work these days), but about riding the electric trolley. Maybe it’s a weird form of nostalgia, but it just seems to me that must have been a far more peaceful and pleasant time.

  10. trent,

    It’s not a ‘lame excuse’. There are days when they don’t have enough drivers. For many months they were on work to rule and refusing overtime. My own express the 130 Tuscany Express was cut repeatedly during their work to rule campaign. It was getting to the point of just 1 bus somedays. I got to know the route 421 and the c-train really well. Now they have their deal and we still get the same excuse some days. Parking downtown is a nightmare. That’s the only reason I bother with Calgary Transit.

  11. you should have nothing to complain about, Calgary Transit is WAY better then any other transit in ALL OF CANANDA! its people like you that make CT suck.

  12. you should have nothing to complain about, Calgary Transit is WAY better then any other transit in ALL OF CANANDA! its people like you that make CT suck. Idiots.

  13. Sorry Jackie, but I have to wholly disagree. Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal all have far superior systems. (And those are the ones I have direct experience with. I can’t comment on other systems.) Given, those centres tend to be larger than Calgary, but they also adapted to the needs far better than Calgary. Ottawa at least had the foresight to see future growth, and as a result is in a far better position than we are. If we’d had Ottawa’s foresight, I imagine we’d have far less to complain about.

    On a side note, I see Calgary’s finally joined the modern age and gotten accordion buses. Hopefully that improves things a bit.

  14. Believe me guys, there’s alot worse tranist systems out there, I m originally from Oshawa and moved to Calgary last year, I think Calgary is a million times better then what I had back home. I had to wait an hour for the bus, then ride it for another hour because all the routes do massive circles around the city which wastes everyones time, basically you can walk to wherever your going faster then taking the bus, plus it doesnt show up alot and the drivers seem to stop infront of every tim hortons they pass by.

  15. Agreed, smaller towns (generally) have lousier service. I didn’t include Oakville on the list of other centres I’ve experienced for that very reason. It’s a smaller town, and they’ll have to try to hit as many places as possible with as few routes as possible.

    Oshawa has (according to their website) 146,000 people. Calgary’s got a few times more than that, and I’m sure there are a number of people who’d agree that Calgary has small town-type problems with a city-size population.

  16. The biggest problem is when you have to travel via transit outside of weekday rush hour and esp if your travels take you crosstown. For example, If I want to go from Tuscany to visit my relatives in Cranston via Transit, I haved to take 421 bus to Brentwood (40 min or so from Tuscany complete with a trip through Crowfoot). Then from Brentwood to Somerset take a c-train (45 min to 1 hour). Then I have to take the 413 (another 15-20 min assuming I can catch one –> which stops running in the PM on weekdays and doesn’t run weekends). I’d need basically 2 hours or so for that trip assuming I make the last connection. I could easily do that in under an hour by driving.

  17. I have two job offers, one job in Calgary, another in Ottawa. Which city city is the best for family, school for children, housing and cost and quality of life? Any suggestions.

  18. Sowrey, you’re so right!!! And “thbpppt” to anyone who thinks it’s un-Canadian to not sit back and just take it anymore!

    Here’s my situation – I can drive 25 minutes to my office in Kensington just outside downtown, from Coventry Hills. Or, I can have the joy of spending 1 1/2 hours (yes, 90 minutes) in two to three consecutive buses (if they stop at all), that are overcrowded, overheated(as in steam-dripping-down-the-windows), with fellow passengers who wouldn’t give a seat to pregnant women or the elderly even at gunpoint, and passengers that are driving from all points outside Coventry to get a seat on my neighborhood bus.

    The City is doing a great job of encouraging us to “go green”, aren’t they!

    I’ve been battling Calgary Transit for almost 3 years to get service (not improve service, merely GET service) to the bulk of Coventry Hills. We have 13,000 people that live here, and if there was a reasonable transit service, we would use it. You’re right that Calgary Transit is light years away from realizing an efficient, reliable mass transit system, and they seem to have no idea on how to fix this problem.

    It doesn’t help to e-mail, phone or send letters. It also doesn’t help to go to the Alderman, Helen Larocque. Her office sent me a reply about what they’re doing in Harvest Hills, and when I let them know that’s not our area, I haven’t heard anything since.

    I’ve even tried being helpful with statistics and route info, and the typical response (if I even get one at all!), is “we’re short-staffed and we have no buses”.

    Waa-wahh. To Calgary Transit, I say, “Suck it up, pay your staff better, give them proper schedules, get the dispatchers on the phone with the drivers to reallocate buses on the fly, and management – park you arses at City Council until they fix the friggin’ budget!”

    Something a cabbie shared with me recently, is that Calgary Transit of ten years ago was actually begging people to ride the system, or they were going to have to sell off buses. So, I have no sympathy for a group of bureaucrats so thick in the head that when the customers come knocking, they effectively slam the door in our faces.

    Fair enough – Calgary’s rate of growth in the last 3-5 years has been rapid, but come on…. Transit has just not kept up.

    Not impressed… and soon to be driving to work, as my sanity and blood pressure are all I can save at this point.

  19. kathleen, as a former bus and c-train driver and former acting (relief) supervisor, I can tell you why your area is not getting the level of service that you want. There’s a few reasons.

    Your area has the 86 bus. There is also the 116 express bus that runs in the weekday mornings. 301 (with limited stops) runs from the park and ride near that movie theatre. It is not that the planners don’t want to provide service to your area. The problem for them is that they won’t be able to staff any extra service and they would have to buy buses too. Existing service is barely being filled the way it is and its not just buses. Even c-train service has taken a hit on certain days because of staff shortage. Anyone calling in sick can mean a bus or train getting cut.

    It isn’t just your area that wants better service. Every single area wants it. With the recent annexations of sections of Bearspaw, they will probably want some service too and the City is legally obligated to provide ‘some’ service. How frequent that service is all depends on the City and its planners.

    One thing that I had suggested many times was a bus that went up and down country hills blvd. It is just not right that someone living in Hidden Valley has to goto Sandstone loop on 118 then take a 3 to 78th ave loop the a 20 to brentwood, a train and then finally a 54 or 154 bus from dalhousie to get to the Hamptons.

    One of them is that there really is a major staff shortage. The City has dropped ball when it comes to retention and recruiting. They knew many years ago (the late 90s) that many of their drivers would be retiring around the same time. Many of them were recruited together in the late 70s and early 80s during the other boom in this city. The City knew all this and did NOTHING.

    This past spring there was a nasty `work to rule` campaign and the union actually voted to go on full strike by June 1. The drivers asked for 15% over 3 years which was not unreasonable. They ended up with 12% as a compromise. The 12% was because of Edmonton’s drivers getting that much. Edmonton is a smaller city with a smaller area and smaller population and their LRT system is only 1/3 in length with much lower ridership. That last minute compromise did avert a strike but there are still many hard feelings between union members and management. It is a very very negative work environment. Many people were just getting over the 2001 strike when all this happened. The City took out full page newspaper ads this spring attacking the drivers for months on end. They also had taken court action to potentially lock them out. Many of the drivers didn’t care about this ‘shuttle’ issue that the union was going on about. Most of them just wanted more money in our contract. The City offered 10% over 3 years and they ended up with 12% (3/4/5) when inflation is 6% a year in this city and many other jobs with less on-the-job stress are paying better or equivalent. The solution to the hiring problem is to pay better. Sooner or later the City will get it. Although I think they still don’t realize it after forcing EMS workers to take 12% via arbitration when they were seeking closer to 30% based on their job function and education requirements. I am probably not the only one that thinks those EMS workers are very important and should be paid more than Transit Workers. As of now they are about the same.

    The reasons why people don’t want to stick around vary but generally it can be explained as follows: How new people are treated. New people are put on what is called ‘spareboard’, which means they get different work every day and even don’t know what they are going to be doing the very same day. They usually get ‘just enough’ time to go from one piece of work in the NE to say somewhere in the deep south. Often they have to goto work 3 or even 4 times a day to work in the same day. Most people want to be able to get a set route. The way the system works they can’t get that until after more than a year in most cases. Some of the unlucky people are ‘forced’ into driving c-train when they only want to drive buses. They will and have quit over that. All employees who are new are put on probation. more than 3 lates (late = anything over 30 seconds), any sick days, any accidents where its deemed their fault or any complaints by the public can be used to discipline and even fire these new employees. Once probation is done it is very hard to fire anyone except where management has a ‘smoking gun’.

    There are people who have been around a long time and they have this ‘don’t care’ attitude. They don’t care if their bus is on time. They just book overtime daily when they get back to the garage. They are late on purpose. Management can’t do anything to them.

    There was 2 recent job fairs (one on Sept 29) and another is scheduled for Nov. 17 in Calgary. There have been job fairs all across the country. Some of the people who joined from places like Ontario are being paid living expenses and a monetary sum just for joining. Many of them still have not stayed.

    I would be shocked if things got any better anytime soon. The same management group that was running things in the 1980s is still running things in very much the same way.

    I’d suggest to you to continue to drive to work as transit is not efficient enough in your area.

  20. I am so glad that I am not alone in my daily frustration while taking the C-Train. I usually catch the train at Whitehorn if I can find a parking spot. Most days I cannot, so I am forced to drive to Sunridge mall where there is never parking there either and the mall security has actually cordoned off their parking so don’t you dare drive over the wooden barriers with your Jeep! If I can’t find parking there then I can usually find parking at Marlborough station. But by the time I get there, I am already late for work. (I work downtown) I am under a time constraint with our daycare because we can’t drop our son off before 7am. I live in Castleridge. I am eagerly waiting for the West Winds station to be completed, but they have been tinkering so much with the pretty roof that who knows when that will be done. It is supposed to have 840 stalls. We’ll see.

    My biggest beef is the waiting on the train once you get downtown. Once we reach the bridge at Bridgeland, we sit on top of the bridge for about 3 minutes. Then we slowly go into downtown and then sit at 3rd St East for about 5-7 minutes. Subsequently, every stop after that has A RED LIGHT so we sit at those too. The downtown ride is longer than what it takes to get from Whitehorn to Bridgeland. You take a train to get places faster generally (within the city anyway) but you actually could have walked there faster twice. AND to top it all off, the driver doesn’t tell us what is going on. So we just sit and wait. Grrrrr.

    Last summer I was on a old train and was at a window seat where beside my leg the heat was blowing. (It was 28 or 30 degrees outside) So that would make it about 40 degrees or more inside the train plus the body heat. Ewww. I was wearing capri pants and my leg happened to touch the side of the element that was blowing the heat. Well, it left a mark and burnt me so I emailed Calgary Transit to ask why we have heat blowing in the summer. The response was basically it is not heat blowing, they are 20 year old trains and sometimes something breaks and it causes it to give off heat. Thank you for choosing Calgary Transit. Well gee thanks.

    Bottom line is: Pay the transit workers more money and treat them with dignity and respect. If you want us to go green, then make it easier for us and worth it. Plan to build so that the trains can over ground not on the ground so that we don’t have to wait! Stop using the excuse that “Calgary grew so fast that we weren’t prepared… bs” Come on, what do you expect it to do? Shrink? Also, for those of us who can’t take the bus, build parkades on top of your parking lots at the stations so that we can find a parking spot. Finally, management should take the time out and find a company that will compile some Employee and customer satisfaction surveys and come up with a game plan to make their employees more happy.

    Thanks for letting me vent…

  21. Woo hoo! An opportunity to vent about Calgary transit after the week I’ve had. First of all, thank you BusDriver for providing some perspective on the challenges of driver retention. It’s a catch 22 isn’t it? Calgarians won’t pay more for bus service until they get some reliability in the transit system. The Calgary Transit can’t make the system reliable if doesn’t have the money to train and retain qualified people.

    My week started out as one bad bus story after another. Up until this week I drove every day to the Westside Rec Centre bus loop. I live in Discovery Ridge which has extremely limited feeder service to the rec centre. It operated Monday to Friday from 6 am to 5:30 pm. If you miss that last bus – you’re hooped.

    I decided to save myself from fuel costs and upcoming scraping of windshields by trying the feeder bus to the rec centre instead (I’ll admit that being green wasn’t at the top of my list). This has required some modifications to my work schedule.

    Day 1 – Made it to the rec centre and to work very comfortably. Took the #13 to return after work in the hopes of intercepting the feeder bus at Westhills mall. #13 driver insisted she was an out of service bus at Mount Royal – she wasn’t, the OOS busses were before and after her, but she couldn’t read the schedule. She called it in, but dispatch just took her word for it that her “sheet” said she was out of service. If she had told me this while we were still downtown I could have changed buses. At Mount Royal the only bus going anywhere near Westhills was the 13. It was a two hour wait for an in service bus. Suffice to say I got to Westhills and had to call a cab to get home.

    Day 2 – Tried not be defeated and chocked it up to a bad experience. Feeder bus arrived in the morning on time – filled with smoke. Passengers exited the bus (I was the only one on it going to the rec centre) and the driver decided to light up again. I asked him to put it out and got screamed at for my trouble. I complained to Transit when I got to work and was told the story that they are scraping the bottom of the barrel.

    Day 3 (Yesterday) – Caught the #2 returning from work to the rec centre. It was moving well and on time until it caught up the #2 before it. The two buses were now moving slowly up 17th with my #2 forced to stop at every stop the first bus stopped at since it could not pass. I missed the feeder bus by 30 seconds (it left early) and waited a half hour for the next bus. I watched the kids play hockey in the rec centre to pass the time.

    Day 4 (today) – Feeder bus never arrived. I can only assume it came over 10 minutes early. I walked back home and drove to the Richmond bus loop, passing other stranded passengers along the way.

    Hopefully tonight goes okay. At least I have the car at the bus loop this time.

    And I know this is long post but…

    When I worked in Fort McMurray all mining trucks were equipped with GPS trackers. We always knew exactly where they were and optimized based on their movement.

    Now imagine this – all buses equipped with GPS. You are standing at the stop wondering why the bus is late. You call transit. You wait on hold. When you get through to an operator who asks your stop number. Their computer tells them which bus id matches the scheduled time. They call up the computerized map. It tells them where the bus is currently. The program projects when the bus may actually arrive. The operator tells you how far away the bus is and how long it might take to reach you. This technology exists. If Transit had the money it could implement it in six months. And then someday when you dialed your stop number it would be automated – tell you if the last bus was late and a projected time of arrival.

    Thanks for the chance to get it all off my chest. I promise not to take it out on the drivers….

  22. Calgary in a Boom? Calgary has not done any upgrading to infrastructure in so long we are still living in a city that is designed for ,5 mil people. Why would a large city put a train on the surface to use streets that were put there for automobiles? First move the train to at least underground downtown! It is so confusing just to get on and off the correct train downtown and at the correct station, then the problems of just having the space downtown for more trains on the system that is already not working is complete insanity. The system will never work correctly, with fluidity in this way. The City council and planners must see this but they keep building on a system that is beyond its time. Spend the money now on a proper subway system it will never get cheaper.
    My wife uses the LRT each day to go to and from work, and each day its a challenge for her to make it to the last downtown station where she needs to go for the easiest access to her office, but sometimes the train decides its going to Dalhousie which means you have to get off the train at 8st instead of the last station. Who knows what will happen when they try to add the west line, I cant wait to see what confusion that will cause commuters.
    There are some amazing transits systems in the world, I have used them in Tokyo etc. and really wish our City Council and planners would go and take a look at systems that work well, with efficiently and implement the changes necessary to make the system work here before we go and expand the system in the same disregard that has been done in the past.

    Calgary needs help!!

  23. Anna, you have the patience of a Saint. I would have lost it on that bus driver who had the nerve to smoke in the bus. (I don’t care if the city is having trouble getting/retaining bus drivers — it’s an issue, yes, but that is no reason or excuse to allow a bus driver to pollute the air inside a confined space.)

    I’m curious to know if the rest of your week goes/went well, and if you’re opting to remain on that route, or try something different (e.g. park in a neighbourhood that doesn’t require permits, and take a regular route).

    Those limited non-regular routes are always a problem because of availability. Even the regular routes have problem (read the original post above about the #7!). I’ve seen buses going off service at 7:30am — rush hour is still well on and buses are coming OFF? Someone at Calgary Transit needs a freaking reality check.

  24. Grumbling Man, I hear you! In fact, I’ve written a couple of posts on that very topic (see Improving transit in the city core and Calgary is big enough for better transit). This city is large enough to not just consider the future now, but to act on it, too. Transit needs to be buried through downtown.

    Yes, to those of you reading this, Europe has all sorts of above-ground transit. But those are in places where the transit came long before cars, and certainly do not have the volume of cars we see in North American cities.

  25. Hi Geoff. The rest of my week was a transit disaster. But I’ve decided to use it as an opportunity to get to know my neighbors and other Calgarians. As a city of strangers we now have something in common – our buses don’t show up. To be fair, there are lots of transit drivers who are friendly and helpful and unable to do anything about the system itself.

    I agree with Grumbling man that we need to put the new stations and extensions underground. My father told me that the original stations were built above ground for easier maintenance, safety and to get the system built quickly (it was built when I was seven). And it did work. Edmonton’s LRT was underground and plagued with problems to the point that it is not a well-used system. But technology is further along than it used to be and it’s time to move underground.

  26. Anna, sorry to hear that the rest of your week was a disaster. Again, you are very upbeat for a transit user — most turn out like me, bitter and angry. 😉

    Admittedly, I know JACK about the Edmonton Transit system. What sort of problems have they countered? Are these ones that we might see as well?

  27. The main issues with the Edmonton LRT have been flooding and safety. Above-ground stations are easier to maintain – if there is an on-board emergency it is easier to access the train if it is above ground. It’s also easier to clear/repair a track if there’s a problem since the equipment has easier access. (Alternatively, I suppose you could argue that there are fewer car versus train collisions with an underground system).

    Personally I never felt very safe waiting at the underground stations in Edmonton. The idea of being down there with limited exits is creepy – especially in Alberta.

    Unlike larger metropolis’ with sophisticated transit security – in Calgary and Edmonton the “help” buttons are monitored by personnel who do not have anywhere near the “911 operator” training that they should have. At least with an exposed above ground station it is visible to police, security and the general public and if you had to run there are always ways out. An underground station leaves your safety at the mercy of transit security (and really, how often are they going to stop at the station?) and some airhead who will be on a break when you need them to answer your distress call.

    I actually once witnessed a knife fight at the 6th street station downtown. Someone hit the help button. It took at least a minute for a response and the lady had the gall to ask the guy what he would like her to do about it. Someone finally called 911. It’s interesting how these incidents never get reported in the paper. No one really wants to start a ruckus about overhauling transit security and implying that the system is unsafe.

  28. Agreed, the security model would need to change. For above-ground stations, it’s fine the way it is (theoretically). When it goes underground, there needs to be security cameras monitored 24/7 (or at least when the station is accessible), and there needs to be a “911” button, not a HELP button.

    I look to the underground stations of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, New York, London, Paris, Moscow, Tokyo, and Hong Kong as examples. You want underground? You gotta pay the ticket. Period. No more honour system — if you ain’t paid to ride, you don’t get to go down. Keeps things a little cleaner, and you’re more guaranteed to have paid fares (something I’m sure Calgary Transit has problems with). Also more secure, too.

    It wouldn’t ever be perfect, but since the West LRT is planned to be underground until about 41st St. (presumably run through the green space next to the housing complex?), they’re gonna have to build underground stations anyway.

  29. I am a “new” transit user. After more thirty years of driving to work (I actually had a good excuse) in May I decided to see how it would go with Calgary Transit–I felt I was in a good position make minor sacrifices of convenience, while saving some money on gas and auto upkeep and also reducing my carbon footprint.

    So far, my experiences with Calgary Transit have ranged from poor to excellent, settling on an average of “good” to “very good”. I have yet to ride through a winter, however.

    In thinking about Calgary Transit, I start with the assumption that many of their staff work at their jobs as hard as I do at mine to improve service while coping with inadequate resources. But at the same time I suspect that they are not especially concerned with, or much skilled at, communicating with their clientele. To me, in fact, one of the most obvious deficiencies of Calgary Transit is that it is such an information-poor environment: poor signage, no real-time information in the stations, weak web site, slow response to input, you name it. They need to spend some time thinking about this aspect of their operation. Just putting rubber on the road does not make a transit system.

    To understand the challenges facing Calgary Transit, though, it helps to recognize the huge uphill battle this city has faced as a result of poor planning and weak infrastructure investment going back, I imagine, into the 1940s, but especially in the fifties and sixties. Most people then must have thought that Calgary would hum along at a few hundred thousand inhabitants for the rest of the century. The inattention toward public infrastructure on the part of successive governments has now really caught up with us.

    I am not advocating holding back on criticism either of Calgary Transit or city government, but our problems are fundamentally political. Albertans long since became addicted to the “two snowmobiles in every garage” platitudes of a bunch of backward politicians, and it is taking a surprisingly long time for people to catch on to what’s wrong.

    I’m not keen to end this as a partisan screed, but if you want a fine city with good transit, you’re going to have to pay for it. At least a few politicians have to become very skilled at getting people to part with their money in pursuit of public projects. It can’t happen soon enough.

  30. Clyde — you’re 100% correct. If we want good transit, we have to pay for it. We can’t merely complain and hope it’ll magically get better. And you’re also right in that it needs the governments at hand to recognise that not everyone is going to drive (snowmobiles or otherwise) from their homes to work. They not only need to have a solid system to rely on for movement, but also be encouraged. London, England did this by slapping fees on anyone driving into the core (most of the City of Westminster, for example). Our downtown core could benefit from such a user fee.

    Fortunately, the western side of town will benefit from more reliable transit soon, when the LRT is extended by 2012. Only four short years until I can take the C-Train from my home to work again!

  31. I am a new Calgary Transit rider, as well; having moved to Calgary only 2 short months ago. I recently started a new job downtown, and I can honestly say I have never seen a transit system as inefficient as this one. I have used transit in MANY cities, both bigger (much bigger) and much smaller than Calgary. Never, in all my years of riding on public transit, have I stood at a main stop for OVER an hour waiting for a ‘BRT’ (yes, I refer to the 301)… In all that time, I saw ONLY 2 busses drive PAST the stop (packed MORE than full) while many of us waited in the cold (I hate to think about when it really IS cold)… is this not a route that is supposed to run every 10 minutes or so?? I cannot describe how frustrating this is becoming. The other busses that I could take to get me near enough to walk a fair distance home stop at a completely different location than the BRT; which would constitute me making a mad dash for a different stop after waiting (in vain) for the 301… which is what I ended up doing today… 2 hours to get home, on a trip that should take only 20 minutes.

    I feel sorry for the bus drivers, as I have seen their frustrations as people cram themselves onto the bus so tightly;, it becomes a safety issue. We can’t blame the drivers, many of them are just trying to do a job, and by the sounds of it; not getting rewarded very well for it. I personally don’t think that Calgary Transit is expensive… I have paid as much or more for less stellar bus service (if you can believe that) I would be willing to pay MORE, IF the service was improved, and busses were on time (bearing in mind that delays DO happen) and I wasn’t forced to wait at a bus stop for an hour without ever seeing a bus. The comments about lack of information are equally important… the Transit website is a joke… I am from a major city smaller than Calgary, and their website is run MUCH more efficiently. There needs to be bus schedules and maps available at major stops and timing points. As a new user, I have found things to be very confusing… and I try to stick with what I know so I don’t waste any more of my life than I already have waiting.

    In fear, I leave an hour earlier than I need to for work… who knows when I will be stuck waiting as busses pass me by, unable to squeeze any other passengers on. I miss time with my family in the evening when it takes me 2 hours to get home (I live just off a main bus route… this should NOT be so)! I am frustrated, but transit has been my only option… I am considering exploring other ones VERY soon… I like to think I could be kinder to the environment by taking public transit, but I have all too much experience with the ‘sardine can’ as I like to refer to it as… the steam dripping down the windows, being pushed and poked and prodded… it’s a little much… the people who will not get out of their seats for people who whould actually benefit from one… I love Calgary so much, and this is tainting how I once viewed this city… it’s sad

    Just needed to get it off my chest! Thanks!

  32. You’re not alone, Joanne — there are many who share your deep concern of buses. Many times I’ve had to text my wife to let her know I missed the bus (or more specifically, it didn’t show up) and will be late.

    I would also happily pay more IF it meant more reliable and less cramped service. But the economics of Calgary need to readjust first — bus drivers are in short supply because entry-level positions don’t pay as well as others in town, have worse hours and benefits, and other positions aren’t nearly as stressful as dealing with angry riders. Such a fun little spiral o’ death, eh?

  33. yes, transit in this city sucks. I do not believe that the people that designed the bus stops at the Dalhousie station have ever taken a bus much less be forced to wait for one for more than 25 minutes just after 5 pm on a miserable windy lifesucking evening in Nov. We must remember that transit is really for all the poor people, the others, and it does not much matter what conditions they should endure. Come spring I will be riding my bike or rollerblading. They do not deserve my fare. I pay enough in taxes and do not feel well served. Their website is another poorly planned endeavor.

  34. I would like to see you move 89 million people better, edmonton with a similar system and the same population moves 45 milion.(per year) You got to give CT a bit more credit!

  35. As much as this sounds like a cop-out, that’s not my field. Naturally, I’d do a lousy job of it. I’m not the expert. But the people working for Calgary Transit should be experts — that’s what they do. And if they’re moving 89 million people a year, great — but they need to be moved more efficiently, more quickly, and most certainly, 89 million is probably not enough. Given the number of cars that drive downtown, it’s safe to say that the number could be a lot higher.

    I’ll give Calgary Transit credit insofar as they’ve tried, and to some extent they succeed. Their failures are partly due to impatience of some staff (not just the drivers people love to hate, but also management), but a large part of the issue stems from the City of Calgary not supporting Calgary Transit enough. We spent millions of dollars on a new interchange at Glenmore and MacLeod Trails, but we don’t put in dedicated bus lanes. We put in a massive ring road to the north and south, but we don’t run the C-Train to Mackenzie Town.

  36. As I come back and read the newer posts, I’m beginning to see that my patronage of Calgary Transit gives me better results than it does for many others. I have only a handful of “horrible” to “poor” trips in my six months of partial “resort” to the C-Train and connector buses, and many in the “very good” range.

    Geoff correctly points out that “the people working for Calgary Transit should be experts.” But how are we to know what the quality of their expertise is? If officials of the City of Calgary and Calgary Transit think that we should be concerned with this sort of judgment–and I sure hope they do–it’s their responsibility to sponsor the kind of communication that makes it possible. A forum like this blog belongs on–or within–or at least linked within–a dynamic web newsletter focusing on transit issues, maintained by the City or CT. I think they need both to listen and to be seen to be listening.

    An example of recent poor communication on the part of CT and City Hall: a week or so ago, after I watched the news story concerning objections to the routing of the SW C-Train line, I went on-line to have a look at a map of the proposed route. Funny thing: the part of the map showing Mount Royal College (which is the source of some of the concern about the route) was covered up by a big, unnecessary white rectangle. I pointed this out to CT and to the Mayor’s office, but I’ve not gotten any response from either. Maybe they’ve changed the map to be more informative about this one issue–I’ll check–but I had hoped they would get back to me on the matter.

    Public transit needs advocates. Wouldn’t it be nice if CT started building a constituency for its own improvement? Maybe City government is on top of everything and doesn’t need our advocacy. But how easy is it for us to establish that?

  37. Clyde, that’s about the most brilliant idea I think that has ever been posted on this website! Everyone wants a better Calgary Transit. I think we could all agree that Calgary Transit wants a better Calgary Transit — they just haven’t been given the funds to make it happen.

    What if they started a grassroots effort? Not a petition, but outright dialogue with Calgary Transit riders — people who have vested interests (beyond employment with CT) in having a better solution to getting around town.

    Brilliant, Clyde!! Truly inspirational.

    Anyone at Calgary Transit thinking the same, I wonder? (In case any of you are skeptical, such efforts have moved mountains, not just the opinions of a few.)

  38. Anna,

    I’m sorry to hear about your experiences. The problem with Calgary Transit is that every weekday they are short about 100 drivers and that is with about 50 people doing overtime. So they have to cut runs. Cuts are made based on ridership. Shuttle runs are the first to be cut. LRT runs are almost never cut. If nothing else they get supervisors to drive the train until someone is found to take over. With buses it all depends on which route and how frequent the service is. If it is something like the 1,2,3,6,7,13,etc. and the bus is just an AM or PM extra that does 2 trips they might cut it. If it is a choice between a bus that carries a full load and one that carries 10 people, the one with 10 is getting cut first. Every day 20-30 bus runs are cut daily. For Calgary Transit there is no way to communicate this info to the public ahead of time. Many drivers who don’t have set routes call in for their work in the evening the night prior. Those who are going to call in sick will do so 2 hours before they start. If there is someone available on standy, they can fill the work. If not then its cut. It would be nice if the website were updated and it would be nice if teleride was updated but for some reason it is not. Usually other drivers on the same route of a cut run hear about it from the public. They won’t even acknowledge a cut run until a driver specifically asks about it on the radio.

    On your day 1, the reason why you had to wait for the other bus so long is they cut one of the 13s or mabye even 2. There are a few 13 buses that are scheduled to go MRC to MRC. Most buses don’t have a sign that says its only up to MRC. So it is up to the driver to inform their passengers ahead of time. You could have taken the 112 from Sarcee road & Richardson Way ( a little further) up to Westhills.

    On your day 2: you should have complained and ask for a supervisor to call you back. They will investigate something like that if you press them. Smoking in a City vehicle is not allowed.

    On your day 3: If one driver catches up to the next, conventional wisdom amongst anyone who’s driven bus would be to communicate amongst themselves and one would blank their signs and do drop offs only while the other would do pickups (depending on what their loads were like). If nothing else they could do `skip stop` which is do pickups at every other stop providing no one on the bus wanted to get off. There are many bus drivers who like to drag their feet too. Not everyone is gung ho on being on time. Some do it on purpose. Others are just slow. Most take being on time seriously and like to do their best to transport people as quickly as possible without leaving anyone behind.

    on your day 4: they cut it. Shuttle buses are first to be cut. The reasoning behind it is low ridership. They only cut shuttle runs after they have run out of regular buses to be sent out.

    GPS is a good idea but there’s still no way to predict how long a bus will be in rush hour due to things like traffic and buses having to stop at every stop (#2,#1,#3, etc.) or buses that have to regulary sit on the 10 st bridge for 15 minutes each way during rush hour (#1).

    On the whole, I think the way your week worked out had a lot more to do with the driver shortage and people getting hired to be bus drivers that would have never been hired say 5 years ago. Right now they are desperate, holding job fairs all over the country and still barely attracting enough people who are barely qualified. My opinion is that they have to either change the working conditions to make people want to do this job or increase the pay. The Work to Rule campaign did not help. When they redo badge #’s on December 17, some drivers will be moving up 150 badges. It used to be even if you’re new you never moved more then 40. Many drivers retired early or just quit after the city really played hardball with the union. I hope the city gets it now that this job is not one that everyone wants. People join and they do it for 2-3 months and leave. Others just join for the class 2 licence which the City pays for in training and then leave to drive tour bus or work for greyhound.

  39. Joanne,

    I can give you a reason why you waited so long for a BRT bus. Very few drivers are trained on those 60 foot articulated buses. Where there used to be 2 buses scheduled close together, they have now changed it to 1 articulated bus. What happens when they run out of drivers trained on those 60 footers is that they have to send out a driver with a 40 foot bus, in effect that means there is 1 lost bus. It doesn’t take long for the 301 to fill up. It is a safety issue but the driver is the captain of the ship. They can do whatever they are comfortable with provided they are ready to pay for the consequences later. Most drivers will rely on the yellow line to determine when the bus is full. That protects everyone. If there is a car that cuts the bus off and the driver has to brake suddenly it will send flying. If people are closer to the windshield across the yellow line then someone can potentially go through the windshield and likelihood of injury is greater. Drivers don’t enforce that yellow line rule to make anyone miserable. It is due to safety of all.

    There are many reasons why a bus may or may not be on time. Traffic is a big one. In weather like snow where streets are not cleaned buses can be slowed down. When a bus on the same route has been cut then overcrowding leads to more delay at bus stops. Sometimes there are detours and sometimes there are breakdowns and accidents do happen every once in a while. A lot of buses that only come out in the AM and PM rush hours are scheduled really tightly by the schedules department totally ignornant of the conditions that i just mentioned out there that effect bus schedule adherence. More needs to be to give Buses priority in traffic and the schedule makers need to wake up to some reality. A classic example is how in rush hour a bus is supposed to make it to the other side of the Dalhousie-Ranchlands bus trap from Dalhousie station in 3 minutes.

  40. Anna,

    A lot of what you went through has to do with people being hired now that wouldn’t be given the time of day say 5 years ago.

    Buses being cut is a reality. Why the website and teleride aren’t updated is beyond me. I have found that complaining to transit is useless. A more effective method is to talk to your area alderman. They usually get the ball rolling on transit issues and then CT also listens.

    Many drivers who don’t have the same route everyday will have to call in the night prior for their next day’s work. Drivers have up to 2 hours before their shift (mornings that means for 5:00 shifts they can call in at 3 am). The problem comes with not enough people to even cover drivers calling in sick. An average of 20-30 runs are cut daily and that is with 50 people doing overtime. 100 operators are what CT is short of on weekdays. They decide to cut runs based on ridership. Shuttle runs (like the discovery ridge shuttles) are first to be cut.

  41. BusDriver — your very informative Dec 2 comment (Anna, you should read that one) got sucked into my spam filter. I don’t know why — it doesn’t meet the spam criteria. My apologies for the delay in getting it posted.

  42. BusDriver – as always you provide good insight into the workings of Calgary Transit. I remember when the Transit slogan used to be “catch our pride” and it was actually very difficult to get a job with them. Now it’s a job “no one wants”. I think giving drivers regular routes and working hours would go a long way to making it a more desirable job.

    You’re right about some drivers not caring whether they are on time. In my continuing adventures of the Discovery Ridge shuttle bus – I left work over 1.5 hours early to ensure that I would be home by 5 PM on the shuttle. I caught the right bus from downtown and it made it to the Westhills Centre on time. With only 10 minutes to spare until the shuttle bus I decided to forego running errands at the mall and waited patiently. The bus never came. After a half hour I started asking other drivers if they knew where the bus was.

    I got the same answer: he’s still parked at Westside Rec. After one driver commented that my shuttle bus driver was “yakking on the phone” I called transit. They tried to hail him on the radio to no avail. He finally showed up – 40 minutes late – at the same time as the bus that was supposed to come a half hour after him. Sigh!

    I still take the bus from downtown, but I have started driving my car to the bus loops. Getting to work is not that big of a deal for me since I can manage if a bus is late, but I can no longer risk a bus route getting cancelled when there are so few that can take me home again.

  43. Anna,

    The problem that you experienced with that shuttle driver is due to this union mentality that has really caught on after the work to rule campagin earlier this year. Many drivers leave 2-3 minutes and some more minutes late from a bus loop so that they don’t have to sit at a time point along the route. What they don’t consider is how people will be waiting outside at the very time that teleride tells them or how some people on the bus will miss their connections because of this. Many of them also drag their feet so that they can potentially miss a trip and save having to it do it because they caught up to another bus. Some run a little late on purpose to book overtime.

    We don’t know all the details, so it could very well be that the bus had a breakdown (mechanical problem) or maybe its a new driver. The way they schedule these routes you do 3 different routes with the same bus. For example on a shuttle you could be doing a 453 then a 439 or a 438 route and keep repeating that order. It could very well be that the driver was new and didn’t know how to read the schedule. Again, in the past such applicants would be screened out and eliminated by the interview stage. If you have 2 legs and can walk, transit will hire you providing that you have 3 or less demerit points and no criminal offenses without a pardon on your record.

    Calling 262-1000 to complain is useless. Most of the complaints are filtered out and never make it to the driver. The most effective way to complain is to take it up with your Alderman (counciller) who would then personally take it up with city administration who in turn would talk with transit’s management directly at a senior level. I assure you this is the way things get done with transit in this city. The people who take complaints at 262-1000 belong to the very same union as the drivers.

  44. BusDriver, here’s another question. I don’t know if you read earlier on, but I used to have a problem with the #7 regularly (at least twice a week) missing a run, while other busses were turning out at 10th Ave having gone out of service. Given that the #7 starts its route at The Bay, and the stop I got on was the second one along the line, one would assume this wasn’t because of someone waiting 2-3 minutes. Is this simply a route that didn’t run?

    And why do busses go out of service before 6pm, when so many people are still trying to go home?

  45. Geoff,

    According to Calgary Transit, rush hour in this city is only from 6:00 am to 9 am and then again from 3pm to 6 pm. They schedule AM and PM extra buses to join the all-day buses and trains during those times. By 6 pm and by 9 am those buses are mostly on their way back to the garage. Sucks to be the person that wants to catch a certain bus at 6:15 pm as service on some routes can go from 8 minute service to 40 min service (108/112 etc.). The #7 extras all come out of the Victoria Park garage via 11 Ave and Olympic way by Coyotes and return there too after going out of service at the Bay on 7th Ave.

  46. Fair enough — I can understand 6pm (to an extent) … but I saw buses going out at 5:30, with other buses (like the #7) passing my stop completely full. Happening once or twice I can understand, but happening regularly seems to make little sense to me. Is this a normal practise?

  47. Geoff,

    The only way I can explain to you about the 5:30 thing is what is called ‘interlining’. For example, the schedule makers have one bus do more than 1 route with the same bus. There is one bus that starts from Spring Gardens garage (32nd and Deerfoot NE). It heads to Whitehorn and starts in service as a Route 25 for 2 trips. Then it goes out of service all the way to Crowchild and 54 Ave N.B. and starts as a Route 20, going through MRC and eventually ending up at 78th Ave and Center st bus loop in Huntington. It goes out of service there and heads downtown to Petro Canada building, where it starts in service as a Route 5 for basically a half trip and ends up at the 78th Ave bus loop AGAIN. It goes back to the Spring Gardens garage.

    This is one example. There are some really weird interlings that the schedule makers have been using. The example I gave, the driver spends probably just as much time in traffic in rush hour as an out of service bus as they do in service.

  48. Well… I guess that makes sense at some level. Still, it sucks badly for those who have to wait for the missing #7, only to see off duty buses passing by seemingly needlessly.

    Thanks again for the insight, BusDriver! 🙂

  49. Hi Geoff,

    A lot of the service delays are because certain AM or PM extra buses have been cut. On any given day there are 50 or so people working on overtime on their days off and still they can’t fill the work.

    It is sad in a way that City Council is spending so much on buying buses, trains, new LRT stations, new LRT lines, more BRT routes and adding Service hours each year, but at the end of the day Calgary Transit is having to cut runs because of lack of drivers. Council is again increasing Transit service hours but Calgary Transit is not even able to fill this year’s hours or even last years due to labour shortage. Service is taking a hit because of it. With a city the size of Calgary, with all the urban sprawl and new communities crying for service and old ones that are used to a certain level of level, they have to change something to make it more attractive for people to stay. Whatever they are doing now like trying to attract bottom of the barrel types is not working. They need people who will want to do it as a career for the long term. The only way to change that is to

    1. return to that high standard that was there until 2-3 years ago for what kind of employees you hire (ex. people with driving experience, clean record, city knowledge, customer service skills, ability to speak english, etc.).

    2. Pay a little more to attract quality people.


    Tommorrow (Dec 15/07) is the grand opening the McKnight Westwinds Station. There will be coffee etc. served in Tents in the station parking lot. The Mayor, Premier and other politicians, City managers will be on hand to do the ribbon cutting etc. It will be around 11:15 to 1:00ish. The actual station goes into operation Monday morning on the 17th.

    On Dec. 24th, all weekend service on LRT is going to a 10 minute headway v.s. the 15 minutes it is now.

    In case you’re wondering how I know all this, I still have many friends who work at Transit who keep me updated.

  50. BusDriver, do you have an idea of what the ranges for pay are with CT? And how they compare with other bus companies? Just wondering if CT is respecting the market value at all.

    It would be nice to see some minimum level of standard for applicants for CT, but as you’ve noted before — if you restrict yourself to “anyone”, but refuse to pay for the level of quality you want, you’re going to have a tough time getting the ones you need — even harder to keep them.

    It’s a common theme here in Calgary, and private business adapts. Has to, or it dies. How do you make government understand that quandary, though?

  51. Well….hurray for me. I bought a downtown monthly parking pass at $225 per month.

    Yesterday I was yelled at by a driver for asking what bus number she was: her response: “read the f-ing sign”. Her sign was digital and it was garbled.

    This morning the Discovery Ridge shuttle showed up 10 minutes early – I was 50 feet from the bus stop and started running. I reached the bus stop and the bus kept going. It was completely empty and the driver looked right at me.

    I figured once you subtract the $75 bus pass fee,the $60 or so per month in taxicabs when the shuttle strands me at Westside and the five times or so per month that I pay $18 a day in downtown parking when the shuttle bus doesn’t show in the morning and I can’t afford to be late, I’m actually getting a real bargain.

    I am done. Transit drivers in Calgary are to blame for Calgary being one the most motorized cities in Canada and the air pollution that results.

  52. Anna, I hate to say it, but you’ve just shown what seems to often end up as “par for the course” for a lot transit users — the high costs of driving are outweighed by the life you gain back by abandoning public transit.

    It’s going to be a while before this gets truly better, and your story is less typical.

  53. Geoff, bus driver pay varies. Low end for a regular bus driver is $20.44. After 1957 hours (excluding overtime) or roughly 13 months of working full time, it goes up to 23.00. After that you need another 1957 hours of service or roughly 13 months to make it to the top rate of 25.55. Until now Bus and c-train drivers have been paid the same. In March, c-train drivers will all get a 5% premium over what bus drivers make. After a year of continuous time on c-train it becomes 6% and 7% in another year. So a c-train driver could be making from $26.83 to $27.33 an hour within the next 2 years. Most drivers work a lot of overtime. Those that don’t do overtime average between 50,000 and 60,000 a year. Those that work all the time and never take days off are in the $70,000 a year range with some even hitting 80,000. A lot of them work a lot due to rising costs to live in Calgary. Others work that much to boast their pensions which are based on an average of your best 5 years. This collective deal that was signed in June is done in June 2009. Once you reach the top rate, the only raises you get are union raises that kick in due to a new collective agreement increases. Usually they are 3 year deals with increments each year of the deal. It doens’t matter if a person is the best bus driver in the world or is a major league a-hole. They all get paid the same. That’s part of the reason why I no longer work there. There really isn’t any incentive to do a good job when you are going to be paid the same as someone who is dogging it day in and day out.

    Transit Operators (bus and c-train) start out at a guarantee of 60 hours per pay period. That means if they run out of work, 60 hours is guaranteed nothing more. You need 17% of the work force junior to you on the seniority list to become a 75 hour guaranteed operator. That takes about 2-3 years, but for some only a year since so many were hired recently.

    Shuttle drivers are mostly part time and make around 17 dollars an hour. A lot of the benfits that Transit Operators are entitled to are denied to Shuttle drivers.

    Calgary transit is competitive in relation to other transit authorities for the most part when it comes to hourly pay, but that does not take in account just how expensive (if you factor in rising inflation) Calgary has become to live in as compared to other places and just how easy it is to get other work that pays either similar or better wages for less stressful work or easier work. That is what they are facing. There was a boom in the 70s when the bulk of today’s Transit Operators were hired. CT knew that one day they would all retire around the same time and never really started hiring enough people for it until last year when they actually started to hold job fairs.

    Add to the equation that Calgary is a growing city and council keeps adding transit hours for bus service eventhough the CT can’t even meet the current obligations. There’s new LRT lines but not enough c-train drivers. C-train retention is a major issue. They go out of their way to try to please c-train drivers v.s. bus drivers who they treat like sheep. There are about 1300 or so bus drivers and roughly 100 train drivers. 40 to 50 that can do both.

    The trouble with calgary transit is that they haven’t got out of the 1980s yet. Look at the ticket machines. Edmonton has smart card technology for theres. Toronto has turnstiles where you can’t even come to the platform without paying. Calgary has this stupid free fare zone which makes the train into an arm of the drop-in center at night with all the bums and crackheads that take the trains. So much time is wasted of transit cops and real cops getting ‘sleepers’ off trains, every single night. Calgary still has paper transfers. How much fare revenue is lost due to this ‘honour’ system? Why can’t we have electronic fareboxes on platforms and buses where they will only spit out a ticket if the right amount of change is added? Calgary also missed the boat on HOV lanes, bus only lanes and giving buses priority like some other cities have. The whole organization is still being run like its still the 1980s and Calgary is just some little town where everyone knows everyone. CT needs to understand that we are now over 1 million people with a huge footprint with some of the worst urban sprawl anywhere. If they artificially restrict parking by either jacking up parking rates or limiting spots then they have to provide half decent transit service since most people in this city work downtown and live outside of it.

  54. Geoff,

    I agree with you that there should be a minimum standard. Right now there is NO STANDARD. Service is taking a hit as a result. Training classes are graduating all the time. Few are actually staying. After graduation they see how it really is and think to themselves ‘Do I really want to do this for 20-30 years?’ and then leave. The only people getting rejected now are people with bad driving records (more than 3 demerit points) or criminal records. Anyone else is fair game. The other day I saw a bus driver with a fake leg. Apparently you don’t even need 2 legs to drive.

  55. Again, BusDriver, thank you for your input and insight. Maybe if the public is more aware of the mess at Calgary Transit that they can contact their aldermen and force change.

    Admittedly, that’s a pretty big maybe.

  56. Geoff, individual Alderman can’t do much. There has to be a change with the City administration. The corporate culture is very different then that of private companies. This culture has filtered down to Calgary Transit as a whole too. Part of the reason why CT is running things like it was the 1980s is that the very same guy that was in charge through the 1970s and 80s is still in charge. The only dif is in addition to Transit, he’s now also got Roads (road work, snow removal),Signals (traffic signals) also under him as well as taxi and limo licencing. Most of the drivers that have been around long time hate his guts.

  57. Transit, roads, and signals all under the same person? Not quite the fox guarding the henhouse, but that’s quite the series of conflicting agendas. Add complacency to the mix, and you’re in for one heck of a mess.

    Oh wait… we’ve already got that… 😉

  58. Geoff,

    `John Hubbel` has traffic signals, LRT signals, Calgary Roads, streetlights, and Calgary Transit along with Taxi and limo licencing and Calgary Handibus all under him with a few other things. He is one of a handful of a senior managers who report only to Owen Tobert, CEO of the City of Calgary.

    Owen Tobert has an arms length relationshipto City Council. He is the top person in the entire City bureaucracy.

  59. i’ve been driving bus for 4 years. worker morale is low. john hubble and the rest of management are mistrusted and seen as phonies. what more can i say? good luck !!!!

  60. Hello, to everyone I have to write a business report on Vancouver Transit but I am not much familiar with the Transit If any of you don’t mind sharing some experinces you’ve had with the Vancouver Transit, Or If any of you guys know the website about it that’ll be great!

  61. Hello everyone I did read all of your opinions about Calgary Transit but no one has really explained about Vancouver Transit. I am moving to Vancouver preety shortly and I am not much familiar with their Tranportaion and most of the time I will be dependant on the transportaion So If anyone wants to share some of their experience with me that’ll be great.

  62. I’m still using Calgary Transit frequently, and still mulling over how I should feel about the service I get. Sometimes I have great rides home from the U of C station to West Dalhousie, and once in a while the connections (more so than the rides) are not so great. But I’ve never felt like a victim, which seems like a justifiable description for some others’ experiences.

    What gets me going, though, is when John Hubbell, in the free “Metro” newspaper (January 15), characterizes a customer satisfaction survey in December as giving “excellent” results. John, are you out there? Tell us something about this survey–how and when it was conducted, by whom, with what questions?

    I am inclined to believe that Calgary Transit does a creditable job, on the whole, with the resources it’s given. But I’m disinclined to believed that CT is close to “adequate” for a city the size of Calgary, with our potential resources.

    We need information, not spin–and we need to be able to tell when we are getting one or the other, so we can then properly express our concerns to the politicians who have a responsibility to bring about change.

  63. “Excellent”? When is he riding the system? Where is he riding it to?

    I agree with you, Clyde, that seems a very off evaluation given all the people I know who take transit. And it’s definitely inadequate for our city size.

  64. Clyde, the company that does satisfaction surveys for CT has a long term contract. They choose who they contact for input over the phone. They don’t talk to people who are waiting at C-train stations or bus loops. The survey is pretty in depth. You need about 20 minutes to answer all the questions.

    and to his credit, Hubbel does ride the system.

  65. I’ve started to ask around at U of C to see who is interested in transit issues.

    There’s a short feature in the current edition of the campus paper, and here’s the url for the online version:

    “A new research chair in transportation systems has been established at the University of Calgary to work with the City of Calgary to enhance mobility–that is, the flow of cars, buses, trains, bicycles and people….”

  66. Here’s a message I just sent to CT; I’ll share the reply.

    Dear Calgary Transit:

    My foremost safety concern at the moment is the “slat” assembly at the northwest exit onto the walkway. It has been missing several pieces for months. You are inviting a lawsuit from some hapless person–perhaps a senior citizen–who trips on it and is sent flying to the floor.

    I find the maintenance of this station unacceptable, and if I don’t see some improvement soon, my students and I will start documenting the deficiencies photographically. I know that some students feel that CT is just blowing off the maintenance of this station because students are perceived to have less of a voice than “taxpaying” patrons.

    Please see that this memo reaches the head of your organization; my recollection is that his name is Fred Wong. I’d like an acknowledgment from Mr. Wong that he has personally registered my complaint.

  67. Yes, the University station. I accept the fact that it was not built to the standards of more recent stations, but it is notoriously dirty and, aside from the major job of washing the windows (which seems not to have been done in years) I don’t think it would take all that much time to keep it clean.

    I’ve also had a report from a student that the ceiling heaters (such as they are) no longer work.

    On the general issue of making patronage more attractive, about three years ago I heard President Harvey Weingarten describe how U of C lacks a “front door” through which it presents itself to the community. Among his suggestions for improving this situation was to build a “plus fifteen” walkway that would connect the station to (at least) nearby buildings. It’s an excellent idea but one that is unlikely to turn a donor’s crank, and the chances of funding such a project out of general revenue are next to nil, since the U of C claims a deferred maintenance figure of more than 300 million dollars.

    One wonders if Calgary Transit has a figure for deferred maintenance….

  68. I don’t think anyone wants to know that. It would likely terrify everyone. Given the host of problems CT is facing (security, antiquated equipment, lack of drivers, inability to meet schedules), I’m sure the deferred maintenance is high to the point of people not wanting to ride a bus ever again.

  69. Results so far, six days later:

    “Your service request concern has been registered…and will be investigated as soon as possible by our Supervisor of Buildings.”

    Remarkably, a train I boarded this morning had a newly-cleaned floor–a little wet, but very clean. Someone in the system has a mop.

  70. Yes, it is.

    I’ll state again that I have generally quite positive experiences in my circumscribed use of Calgary Transit, but at the same time I believe that if this city doesn’t step up its civic-mindedness across the board, we’re in for a long slide into a less-clean, less safe, and ultimately less productive urban environment. I still don’t understand why I have to ASK for a long-standing maintenance issue just to be “investigated.”

  71. I think that slide has already started, Clyde. And it’s beginning to accelerate. (Maybe I’m being a tad negative, though?)

    If maintenance has to be investigated, that’s a sure sign that priorities are out of whack with patron expectations.

  72. I fear I’m starting to use this blog too much as a repository for my miscellaneous observations about local transit issues, but maybe it can be something of a useful archive.

    Anyway, as I was passing the Crowfoot Station construction site this morning, I saw that they had put in place the superstructure for one of the pedestrian bridges. It’s clear that this one is a LOT wider than the one at Dalhousie Station, which is preposterously narrow for the amount of foot traffic at busy times of the day. I’m happy that they’ve finally picked up on this design issue, but I’m amazed that the designers blundered so badly up to now.

    I intend to make a bit of a photographic catalog of design errors at Dalhousie and University Stations in the Spring. I’d welcome any suggestions, as I am unlikely to see them all.

  73. Don’t worry about that, Clyde — it’s all valuable information at some level. If you do document it, feel free to link the pictures here, too.

  74. Holy cow, today I followed a guy in a wheelchair up the escalator at Dalhousie Station. His technique is to roll on briskly and reach way forward to grab the black rubber railings. Without a secure grip he’d be in big trouble.

    Getting off the escalator was a cinch, fortunately, and equally brisk.

    This must have taken some practice, but despite his obviously expert execution of the manoeuvre it seems awfully dangerous.

    For him, I guess ELEVATOR SUCKS.

  75. I only realized recently how much Calgary Transit sucked, and that was when I went to Montreal, and experienced their system. I’m in love with it. I take the bus alot in Calgary and there always seems to be some sort of delay, or bus not showing up. I apprieciate their effort, but I’m disappointed with their service. And I absolutely despise the new NE train station. It moved around some bus routes, which I shouldn’t complain about… But I think its a waste having the 21 and 55 running that same route, when one could still go to whitehorn (like the 21 which used to provide quick access to the 73 and 72). Thats not much to complain about, but I also would have appreciated them building an INDOOR station. Our weather changes fast, it gets cold and windy, and the buses and trains have delays, especially so in the bad weather, then we end up waiting outside in the cold for god knows how long for a train thats likely to be packed full of people? And downtown is a mess.
    And there are still areas of the city that are hard to get to because of the lack of buses running there. Sometimes you’re lucky and a bus does go to where you are going, but it only runs during a few hours of the day. I tried to get to Kincora a few weeks ago, and had to wait two hours for the only bus that would take me there.

    I ENVY Singapore. I watched a t.v show on their subways. Its amazing

  76. Indoor stations would be tricky to build as our trains aren’t automated. But they would make winter travel more bearable.

    I can’t say much for Singapore, since I haven’t seen their subway system. I can say that I’m very envious of New York City, London, Paris, and Tokyo, though — far superior systems (necessitated by serving a large population).

  77. I wonder if someone has considered, or developed, a concept and/or measure of “transit equity.” To arrive at such a measure of performance, you’d have to go beyond the “long-term contract” model that Calgary Transit uses (see January 17 message from BusDriver, above).

  78. Hi Ash,

    there are many things wrong with the new station. First thing wrong is the name. Why ‘McKnight Westwinds’ ? THe station is North of McKnight and just about at 64 Ave. From a train driver’s perspective:

    -The time for the trip from 10 st to Whitehorn used to be 1/2 hour with layover at Whitehorn. That time for a trip has stayed the same. There is a scheduled 3 minute turn around at the new station. The schedule just cut into the layover time and took 3 minutes going from Whitehorn to the new station and 3 minutes back. Reality is different. It takes time to change ends. It takes time for passengers to load and unload. It doesn’t help that the bus loop is a fair walk from the platform and there is only one way to go. People miss their train and bus connections everyday in front of their own eyes because they get stuck with a few hundred other people who need time to walk that distance all at once. Sometimes the driver does need to use the washroom. At night at 10 st there is no washroom.

    -The design of the station sucks. The public doesn’t like it. The drivers don’t like it.

    – Back in the Whitehorn era, there used to be enough time to actually use the washroom when you had to go. Now the washroom itself is a good 5 to 6 minute pit stop because it is so far away from not only the bus loop but the train platform as well. Let’s hope that no one has to go for #2 because that would effectively kill the trip and that train would not be able to make any time up without a short turn somewhere down the line.

    – Bus schedules are designed so that buses leave exactly when the train is about to arrive to the station but not there yet (you can see the train).

    – In rush hour buses have to wait for all the people who parked in the park `n ride lots at a stop sign. Would it kill them to give traffic light priority to buses leaving the station and a bus only Left turn from Westwinds Dr onto Castlerdige Blvd in the right lane?

    -Seeing that this is a new station, why in the hell do 95 and 85 share stops? Why do 21 and 61 share stops? This bus loop is not wide enough. You shouldn’t have to turn the steering wheel all the way around just to get around the bus loop.

    -Areas like Saddleridge, Martinedale, Taradale get better service. Those living on Falconridge Blvd and on 44 Ave (Whitehorn) have just seen their service level go down. Whitehorn bus loop just has 57 and 33 buses (33 stops running to Whitehorn after PM rush hour on weekdays).

  79. CFCN News had a story in the 6 o’clock newscast about current cleaning at the Whitehorn LRT station, and at the end of segment it was noted that the rest of the stations would be cleaned from now through the summer months, including “power washing.” Improved lighting was mentioned for Whitehorn, and I hope that is part of the plan for other stations.

    When it’s prime-time news that transit facilities will be cleaned, you know something about the magnitude of the problem.

    Still no action on the unsafe grate at University station, and I wasn’t contacted. But I did see a couple of workers putting up new advertising on the exterior of the building–a practice that should be rejected, as it’s a real eyesore. This has to be very low-end, ineffectual advertising, and the revenue can’t be worth the visual pollution.

    Maybe we should be doing casinos for Calgary Transit, like the parents of schoolchildren have to do to raise money for school supplies.

  80. Clyde,

    Marlborough station was cleaned this past weekend. Some more work on glass was also done at Whitehorn. Rumour was that Rundle was also being worked on. This time, instead of killing service they decided to do the cleaning on sunday and saturday early mornings when there are no trains in service.

    Instead of wasting your time talking to 262-1000 who will be talking the company line, why not try contacting the area Alderman and have them find out what’s going on ? A good number of complaints to Calgary Transit actually get filtered out.

    The most effective way to get something done on Transit issues is through the Mayor’s office or Alderman’s office. They can’t simply ignore those complaints.

    Jim Pattison group has a long term contract for all advertising on bus shelters, buses and trains (inside and out) and even train stations. They decide which advertisements go where and when. Calgary Transit does have the right to reject any specific advertisement that it finds offensive but that right is rarely ever used by them.

  81. I’ve heard back from a gentleman at Calgary Transit. He writes that a replacement grille (called “PediGrid”) has been ordered for University Station and will be installed as soon as it arrives, probably late this month or early in April.

    Naturally, I appreciate his department’s action, but I’m baffled why this kind of deficiency doesn’t get noted and fixed long before it’s a hazard.

    On another note, a student of mine–a professional person in his early thirties who has traveled widely–observes that Calgary Transit fares are quite low by comparison with those in most cities he has visited. Any comments? This certainly bears on “transit equity.”

  82. Hey there fellow transit-rollers! I’m so happy I found this thread- it sure beats ranting away in my lonely mind. Thank you BusDriver for the info you gave about McKnight-Westwinds station. I suppose it’s not really that great that others have noticed what I have, and what you have confirmed (you may even have seen me doing my Olympic sprinter routine trying to catch buses or trains…curse you all, slow people). Since the new station came together, I’ve pretty much been reduced to using the 21 to get home (the 71 is no more apparently)…and as you say, the train arrives about 1 minute after the bus leaves…leaving me with ye’olde half hour walk home.
    I would applaud CT for the overhead heater idea, except for that nagging law of thermodynamics that demonstrates how hot air rises…it doesn’t descend down to us short folk, nor do the open cracks at the bottom of the glass help to retain any of that heat. How much electricity does that waste I wonder?
    I actually spoke to a person at 262-1000 (just breathe- the dizziness will pass), and was reassured that yes, buses should not leave timed stops before the time they’re supposed to- two kindly drivers (with half-full buses no less) decided to pull that when I was bolting across MRC from class to make the bus. Thanks guys- your 5 minutes of saved time added a full hour to my commute. Thank god I don’t have kids to pick up.
    Despite everything else that might nag at my nerves, the only real issues that concern me enough to make me truly annoyed are 1) crummy NE to NW access, and 2) “safety”.
    1) a couple of years back, I needed to head over to my accompanist’s home for a rehearsal. To do so, I waited for the next bus (one every half hour), took it to Whitehorn station, took the train downtown, walked a few blocks to my next bus stop, took that bus to the end of its route, waited for and then switched to another bus, took that bus to the top loop of its route, and then walked 20 minutes to her house. Total travel time? About 2 1/2 hours, much of which involved waiting for bus connections. She drove me home afterwards. Travel time? 15 minutes. Yup. Apparently only travel to the core is important enough to warrant c-train access, so peripheral transit is convoluted and inefficient.
    2) I read the headlines- people are terrified of traveling on transit. Don’t get me wrong- there are plenty of rowdy teens, wannabe gangsta types and obnoxious drunks…but that’s hardly terrifying. Just annoying. Like packs of frothing drunk Flames fans, who I would gladly share a bench with a gangsta just to avoid. From what I’ve read about transit-related violent incidents, they tend to occur at train platforms and bus stops. One evening (it was a balmy -42 degrees I remember) as I waited for the next bus (seeing as the first one left 1 minute before the train arrived as usual), it occurred to me that I would be far less likely to be viciously attacked if I were, in fact, ON A BUS. Like really. Ridership is reduced in the evenings and at night, I understand, but does that really warrant such a dramatic reduction in service. At 11pm, taking the NE line, I’d prefer to have MORE buses to accommodate the other freezing folk- more people= less crime for the most part. Our stations are damn near deserted during those hours, making them ripe for crime.
    All in all, I choose transit over almost any other option. Driving to MRC or downtown is mortifying, and I’m a greenie anyway (if only the NE had more dedicated bike paths…). I’m all for improving transit- there have to be a few creative minds out there who can unjumble this messy little system we have.

    As the hippies say, “peace out”.

  83. Well, Urban Goat, you’ve supplied a pretty classic example of “transit inequity.” 2+ hours to get across town is just plain appalling. I’ll bet it could still be replicated with every quadrant of the city. Two years ago I was able to get from Santa Monica to Pasadena (on buses) in significantly less time than that.

    I would like to see some travel-time documentation from an independent group such as a post-secondary urban studies class. Folks would have to travel in pairs, though–for safety as well as to stave off boredom.

  84. Now THAT would be an excellent idea! The great thing about post-secondary students is that we love to find new things to dig up research on- especially if it might influence social change. Sadly, urban studies isn’t my field…exactly…hmm…now you’ve got me thinking.
    The main long drawn-out wailing noise I hear from complaining transit-riders is “do the people who PLAN these routes even ever TAKE transit anywhere?!”. I would assume that they do…but I’m not sure. Transit operators certainly get a first-hand perspective (and doubtless catch fire from disgruntled passengers), but it would be nice to hear some counter-arguments from the urban planning committee that is working with the city’s confuddled layout.
    Yes,I am making that word up just for this thread- it was a typo originally, but it seems to fit.
    Anyone on the thread have connections to eager research-savvy students or gung-ho city planners who could add their ideas? A well-advertised forum on Calgary Transit future development involving all stakeholders…now that would be a useful project to put together.

  85. Here’s a link to an article today (March 8, 2008) at titled “Sick transit: TTC dirty, leaky, decaying”:

    An except: “….Many recall when the stations were spotless and set the standard for North American public transit. People took pride in that reputation. Their memories may have grown rosier over time, but it makes the current state of affairs even harder for them to fathom….”

  86. Reading through the comments, most of them are true i must add. looking at how many years i have been riding the system, here is what i can add up. People gets into the train and buses with their coffee cups, newspapers, foods/ sandwiches…put their feet on the seats and leave them all inside when they walk out. when the operators pulls in the station and pickup other customers gets in, they will say that the bus or train is dirty, even rants up to the operator. I pitty these guys, i have to wonder if they are getting paid to drive safely, clean their own units and be verbally/physically abused.
    The calgary system is so screwed up that you cannot even make sense out of it. But, this guys and gals are on the bottom of the pit that basically do their best in the best or worst of circumstances to make it better. They have mouths to feed and life to live to like the rest of us.
    I saw people giving them (F)finger, honk their horns….this city does not have any bylaw which says…yield to the bus… that they will be on time. other big cities have that and schedule is not a problem.
    before we go out of our door every morning..this floks picks up our kids and the whole community out and from work or school…..
    let your city aldeman know….the morale is pretty low in their ranks and file for sure…..too bad……maybe we could help them a bit by keeping our busses and train less garbage.

  87. The City is banking on a recession to fill bus driver positions. They are short 150 now. There was a time they were weeding them out and you had to wait until someone retired or died to get a job with Calgary Transit. They relied on the 70s boom to fill positons. Many of those drivers stayed this long with Calgary Transit and now are coming up on retirements. Unlike the 70s boom, this time around people aren’t happy to say they work for Calgary Transit. There was a time when most bus drivers would say they were happy working where they are working.

    The only solution to attracting more drivers is by increasing wages and benefits. If you are going to constantly get cut off in traffic, sworn and yelled at, deal with people who don’t want to pay full fare, you might as well get paid more to deal with that crap. Any type of wage freeze or decrease or even a wage incrase in the next round of contract negotiations (June 2009 is when this deal is up) that isn’t deemed to be enough by most bus drivers will result in many drivers retiring earlier then they had planned and/or many quitting and moving to other things. In this hot economy, a 3 to 5% incrase is not even keeping up with inflation. I really hope that the thinking within the City’s administration changes otherwise we’ll be talking about a 200 to 300 driver shortage in a little under a year and a half.

  88. As the cost of driving a car goes up, the value of a transit ride increases and so does the value of a transit employee’s labor. We should be ready for a price hike and for all the controversy that generates. If it were presented with something like “every penny of this goes into the pockets of Calgary Transit employees,” would that help make the fare increase more acceptable?

    Contrary to the experience of sillyman (above), almost all the drivers and patrons I’ve seen are courteous, and some are even cheerful! Some of the youngsters, in fact, thank the bus driver. I’ll vote with the purchase of a monthly pass to keep it that way, even if it goes to $85 or $95 dollars.

    At the same time, I’m irritated by an e-mail I received this morning from the city, advertising the use of more than $600,000 dollars for “Public Art Projects” for seven LRT Station Canopies. I’m in the field of Art myself, and might be expected to support the concept of Public Art, if not necessarily every example of its implementation. But I say, instead let’s clean the stations and keep them clean–that’s a far better contribution to enviromental aesthetics than the usual lame public art boondoggle.

    When use of public transit reaches much higher levels, and economies of scale set in (will they?), I’d be happy to reconsider this rear-guard position.

    Notes: (a) an articulated bus seen this morning in my neighborhood, for the first time; (b) Sunday mid-day, my first panhandler at Dalhousie Station. He left a mess there, not fully cleaned up by Monday afternoon.

  89. A buddy of mine and I had a lengthy discussion over Vietnamese yesterday and tossed back and forth some ideas regarding privatizing our transit system. Ordinarily, privatization of pubic services makes me cringe- I’m an essential services sort of person, but the good thing about private companies is that they are concerned with making their services competitively priced and in competitively good condition. A private group would be influenced by benchmarking by other providers and would have to submit a long-term business plan for approval by city hall, with the city doubtless buying up most of the company’s shares. The transit system would have to be affordable, the wages and benefits would need to be solid, and the city would be able to free up some municipal funding for other infrastructure projects while still gaining benefits from shareholding- apparently this is the situation in London. London also has an underground subway system- a great idea for expanding the network in a growing city- surface traffic would be unaffected (cough-36th Ave NE-cough-cough), and passenger traffic could be better directed and monitored, especially if we introduced the turnstile system.
    While they’re at it, maybe they’ll consider purchasing trains from, oh, Bombardier, or somewhere a little more local than Germany. No duty, etc. Maybe stop a little financial leakage….
    I agree about the grungy littering folks- what is wrong with people? I’m glad the Metro-hawkers have taken to cleaning up their freebie tabloids on the train cars- it offsets the obnoxiousness they display when shoving their materials into your face when you’re running to catch your bus downtown.
    I’d also like to personally thank the driver of the 21 today! He was a wee bit late…which meant that people were actually able to get on after the train dropped them off! Seriously- thank you SO much, dude.

  90. ….But people need to come to terms with the immense “subsidy” upon which our system of convenient automobile use is based!

    It’s pretty clear that part of that “subsidy” comes from Mother Nature. And I don’t buy into George Bush’s advice that “we’ll adjust” to global warming.

    Can someone tell us what percentage of Calgary Transit’s budget is covered by fares and advertising revenue (ugh) and what proportion the City contributes?

  91. 45% comes from fares. 55% from taxes directly. I could have those 2 numbers mixed but I am sure that it is a 45/55 split. Calgary Transit covers a certain portion of expenses through fares and the rest is paid by taxes. They don’t make a profit of any kind and nor should anyone expect them to. A for-profit operation would be run very differently. For one thing you can kiss good bye to a lot of low ridership routes (almost all shuttle routes) and say hello to greater fare enforcement along with electronic fareboxes and the end of our ancient paper ‘transfers’ that are used to on buses today.

  92. As a complement to “Calgary Transit Sucks”, above, I offer a couple of links (I appreciated his links to local and Canadian news items):

    Coincidentally, this is edited in New Zealand by a friend of mine from the 1960s. You’ll find two side-by-side columns representing differing contrary views in the climate change debate. The following link (from a different source) would be found in the “left” column, titled “Calls to action.” The “right” column is “Dissenting Voices.” Get it? Left and Right views.

    Having offered these links, I have to say that it is starting to feel like a full-time job keeping informed about more than a couple of important issues. No doubt some politicians are counting on us to feel that way.

  93. Quit snivveling, stop using the ‘loser cruiser’ and buy a car then. What the hell do you want for 2 bucks?

  94. for Another bus driver:
    So, are you going to buy cars for all the single parents who can barely afford their transit passes?

    No, your solution is to pollute our planet even more and drive up oil prices even more. Great solution! Think before you speak you ignorant ass.

  95. Greg, there is a banner at the bottom of my last (attempted) post from Saturday noon, saying “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” Did my inclusion of links in that post trigger something in your web software? Maybe you are laid up with the Norovirus that got me last week, and so haven’t gotten around to checking.

  96. Another Bus Driver, while I certainly do appreciate the perspective of “put up or shut up” (whining for the sake of whining never does anything), there is a certain level of service that should be expected for a public transit system supporting a (growing) city of 1 million. Frankly, Calgary Transit doesn’t cut the mustard.

    A large part of this — certainly based on information we’ve received here — is due to city (mis)management. Poor support on routes, insufficiently stringent hiring practises, poor/insufficient training practises, and not really understanding the need to allow transit to move effectively rather than blending it in with the hell that has become regular Calgary traffic.

    But as also has been noted, there are a number of sub-standard drivers out there, too. People who smoke in the bus, are overly surly with passengers, who don’t show up to work and put the burden on other drivers, who leave early on routes so they can get a longer break at the other end, etc. All of these things affect the people who use the service, and frankly that kind of aggravation ain’t worth the $2.50 (it hasn’t been $2 for a long time).

  97. Geoff,

    Standards are falling. This is a city where there are new subdivisions going up and they are screaming for service and old ones want more service. In the face of retirements and high staff turn-over CT is forced to really scrape the bottom of the barrel. People they would have never given time of day to just 5-6 years ago are now their prime candidates for recruitment. There are job fairs all the time. There are recruitment fairs going on in Ontario too.

    What the city is focussing now is getting bodies to drive all those extra new trains and buses. What they are missing are people with actual people skills and customer service skills. They are missing people who can ride maps and have common sense.

    Many of those sub-standard drivers will have to deal with the DriveCam cameras staring them in the face all day long. All Spring Gardens buses have them now. Soon all CT buses will have them. It is continuously monitoring inside and outside the buses. Once triggered, it records the previous 10 seconds and the next 10 seconds and is downloaded once the bus gets back to the garage.

    Personally, I think that C-train training should be doubled to 6 weeks to get operators more familiar with system and vehicle troubleshooting. That is where a lot of the rush hour problems happen. 1 little problem where an operator doesn’t know how to deal with a door problem or deal with some vehicle problem then trains get backed up on all lines. It can be as little as a 6 minute delay and it will take 3 hours to get all trains back on time.

    Similarly, the bus training should be increased as well to include instruction in route knowledge. A lot of the new drivers have been going off route lately. Some have even ended up outside the city.

  98. I must agree with Busdriver- the job is a hard sell when Calgarians’ displeasure with the entire system is so vivid.
    “Hey- I got a job with Calgary Transit!”
    “Really? I f$%ing HATE transit in this city.”
    “Oh. Uh…”

    Bus drivers have so much to contend with as it is- irate passengers, obnoxious drunks, loud teenagers, and all the other integral stereotypes we see everyday en route to work, school, or home. It’s a tough time trying to stay polite and considerate to others when so many of them are so damnably rude and unappreciative. I don’t hold anything against drivers..except maybe the few who didn’t bother to be polite or considerate and decided to take out their frustrations on passengers…like the one who left me standing at MRC yesterday. Um…your bus wasn’t moving yet, you waited with the doors closed for a few good seconds in front of me, and then pulled away, ignoring the folks on the bus who were pointing out that I was right there. Enjoy the 3 seconds you saved- it cost me 45 minutes of wandering around the city on an unfamiliar bus route.
    I don’t know- people are people, but having good social interaction skills, a good thick skin, and a lot of patience will make the job a lot easier for the driver and his/her passengers. All in all though, the transit system, though complicated, does have potential for vast logistical improvement, and that effort would serve employees and riders better than just hiking fees, cutting back services, and planning to extent c-train lines through communities without their consent.
    Transit should be run by present or former drivers, mechanics, or other employees who have firsthand experience with how the system works off the board and in real life.

    Our city has an addiction to convenience and haste- train a lot of people quickly with as little screening as possible, because it’s more important to get more services than better, more efficient services.

    I don’t default to the car yet because it’s unsafe, dirty, stressful, and I can’t read a book while I drive. I don’t see that changing anytime soon, so I support the system and its staff gladly, despite the issues.

  99. I was riding the bus last night and 4 individuals (drunk) was berating the bus driver (verbally), the driver gave them warning but did not listen, so he pulled on a bus stop and asked them in a polite manner to step out of the bus. 1 Individual walked to the front, spit on the driver…while the 3 others went out but left a smoke bomb inside the bus that detonated 2 minutes after. We have to rush out of the bus…..what going on with this city? I believe in the golden unto others what you want others do unto you…i bet that driver will never be the same nice guy as he used to be.

  100. Oy. Not good. That’s definitely no way to improve the situation any. The worst part is that it had to be pre-meditated.

    If anything, this just causes a “spiral of death”, where bus drivers start hating passengers, which makes the passengers hate the bus drivers, and so on and so on.

    Maybe the cameras might help, at least catching idiots like those.

  101. Oy, indeed. I’m not a lawyer, but those sound like felonies to me.

    We seem to have two, three, four (?) Calgarys. On my bus ride this morning, even a couple of funky teenyboppers thanked the bus driver–and quite sweetly, at that.

    This sort of thing will turn up as part of the next contract negotiations, will it not?

  102. The grievance for the 1600 series (Eldorado) shuttle buses is underway. Whatever decision comes out of this will definately set the tone for the next round of negotiations that we’ll all hear about in a year or so. I hate to be a pessimist but if it goes anything like 2007 then there will be a few more early retirements and people who quit for other jobs. Another labour dispute like last year’s work to rule which nearly went to a strike would cripple the service because after the dust settles in 2009, we’ll find ourselves with even less bus drivers then 2006 levels.

    Issues like: operator assaults and security of the system in general are front and center. Believe it or not, many people quit because they can’t take abuse (mostly verbal) from people day in and day out. Others can’t stop themselves from lashing back at customers.

    Please take the time to read the following:


    they raise prices 25 cents every january. tickets are $2.50 right now. So how come the big digital clocks towers at anderson, heritage and chinook have been OUT OF ORDER for five years? it makes no sense that they can’t afford to fix minor problems like this.

    Also, there’s puke still sitting at the canyon meadows platform that hasn’t been cleaned ever. I know this because I go to work at 5:30 am and I saw it when it was still fresh one Saturday morning. it’s now been there for over a month.

    the drivers don’t care. i have seen them yell at passengers many times. they have no customer service training in my opinion. One time the driver let everybody else board the bus, but yelled at me not to enter. I wasn’t really paying attention, all I knew was that the driver was yelling something, but I had no idea she was yelling at ME. So I got on the bus. This lady continued to yell at me. It was rush hour and she didn’t want to take any more passengers, but I was already boarded, and I stared at her, too stunned for words. All the passengers heard her freak out, so she had to let me stay. the bus was full, but NOT packed in the front. I even managed to grab a seat at the next stop.

    When i take the train at 5:30 in the morning, there are frequently other drivers on there who are heading to work as well. Sometimes I want to tell them to shut up because they talk really loudly about their jobs and dish about colleagues, even though they can plainly see that there IS a customer sitting there. it’s just common sense to not let customers hear you talking about your jobs in an unprofessional manner. I learned many juicy details, like the bus driver who was taken off duty because he admitted he fell asleep at the wheel. How come THAT didn’t make the news??

    i hate transit so much! calgary transit has the mindset that problems can be ignored. Since ridership increases every year because of this city’s population growth, there is no reason for them to improve. And people who have no choice but to take transit will continue to patronize them, despite the lack of professional service.

  104. ess,

    $2.50 is not the true cost of a ride. A lot of the cost of the ride is subsidized through municipal taxes. Calgary Transit is a not-for-profit organization which barely covers 50% of its expenses through fares. These fares are operating under an honour system which doesn’t bring in the amount of money that it should. The rest is subsidized by municipal taxes.

    There is a yellow line rule on the bus. Passengers in front of the yellow line are putting themselves in danger. If the bus gets cut off and the driver has to go into emergency braking then those people in front of the yellow line will end up through the windshield. Those behind the yellow line would go flying but more than likely stuff be inside the bus. If a driver allows people all the way to the front then he or she can personally be sued and personally responsible for the safety of those over the yellow line. Some drivers take that responsiblity. Others don’t. You can’t force a driver to do that. That’s why there is space at the front of the bus that has to remain that way for safety. Having said that, it is up to people to move back as far as possible so as many people can board the bus as possible.

    The driver that fell asleep on the job did make the newspapers and TV, but that was like 8-9 months ago. Nothing’s been reported since. Sleeping on the job when you have the responsibity of so many people on the bus should equal an automatic fire, but I’m willing to bet that the union will save his job and he might get away with community service and/or a fine due to the reason of ‘stressed’ by the job.

    As far as the puke at Canyon Meadows goes you can report it to either one of the help phones or give an in depth report of it to 262-1000. Maybe the puke is in a place that most people don’t notice. Reporting it to drivers isn’t going to accomplish anything because it is PS100 (who answers the Help phones on the platforms and dispatches Peace Officers along with Outside Maintenance) that can do something about it or 262-1000. PS100 workers also work in the 262-1000 call center. Reporting it to the proper place would probably get a cleanup done.

  105. I appreciated being given the link to the union pages [“yet another bus driver”, above]. Reading the comments there leads me to believe things are going to get much worse unless our elected officials become a lot more interested in transit issues. I think they need some independent information beyond what they get with from the suspect “user satisfaction” surveys mentioned here many weeks ago.

    Though I’ve never tried to contact Calgary Transit by phone, in the back of my mind I suppose I knew there would be a number to call to report maintenance issues. E-mail to CT has been a very mixed experience; I’ll try the phone next time I see something truly filthy at a station. But why shouldn’t this number be prominently visible at C-Train stations, and even at bus shelters, so that when we see something gross we’ll have no excuse for not getting out our cell phones? I would have used mine today, when a major screwup on the Northwest line made me call home for a ride (fortunately we were able to attach an errand to that waste of gas).

    I was reminded three times today how poor Calgary Transit’s public address systems are. In the afternoon, the Northwest problem caused a massive accumulation of trains at the west end of 7th Ave., but it was impossible for a customer to act rationally given the contradictory and unintelligible information provided by C.T. I ended up walking up 10th street to find a bus, and gave up on that idea after waiting at a shelter for 15 minutes.

  106. Clyde,

    I agree with you that elected officials need to be more involved. They should be there to listen to both management and union’s side along with concerns of the riding public. What we don’t need is more of the Bronconnier attitude of blindly supporting management at Calgary Transit.

    Those people that answer the Help Buttons on platforms are the same that answer 262-1000. They are also the same people who answer emails to the CT website. 262-1000 provides information on schedules and also takes in complaints. The problem is when these same people are answering Help Buttons. They are not emergency responders and a lot of them don’t know how to deal with emergency situations. These are also the same people who make the PA’s. Part of the problem is how the people giving the PA’s really don’t even know what is happening with the trains such as which train is getting short turned and which is going to the NW etc.

    The 262-1000 # is on transfers and tickets. It is usually listed on all of their literature. I don’t know how much more prominant they can make it.

    There was an accident at the ped-x just short of the Lion’s Park station on the outbound side. Some guy ran in the way of an oncoming train just so he could get on an inbound train. That train was held there for about an hour by CPS.

    Some of the westbound trains were single tracked between Lions Park and Banff Trail. The rest were short turned at 10th St. Single tracking in the NW is a time consuming process. The people making the PA’s should have done a better job of informing but then again most people don’t listen to those announcement. Seeing as the accident happened close to 4 pm when each and every capable bus is out on the roads in service it would have been impossible to implement a bus shuttle service. Regular bus service was available from the downtown core to the NW for those that chose to use it (Routes 1,and 10 etc.).

  107. bus driver,

    I just checked my monthly pass and some tickets (detached from their book, mind you) and didn’t find the phone number anywhere. I still maintain that Calgary Transit is an “information-poor” environment–way below an acceptable standard. Improving this aspect of the operation would make it easier to address a range of other problems.

  108. Clyde, I agree. The problem is how to get that change in the operation? CT will never admit that it is wrong. A lot of their business practices are still stuck in the 1980s.

    Personally, I think all expansions to LRT should be put on hold until security on the public transit system has been addressed. It is no longer safe, not even for employees of CT. I wish more people would bring such concerns to their elected officials, so that we can get something done on the security front.

  109. Buskers: Is there any way they can be voted off the island? At Dalhousie Station I have just heard “Blowin’ in the Wind” (accompanied with banjo, alas) for the thirtieth time since the beginning of the year–twenty-nine times too many.

    To add insult to injury, this is the sort of “folk musician” who will skip a beat and say “Smile!” when you walk by.

  110. Ess said that transit operator does not know anything about customer service, is a flawed statement. I can tell you that no human being wants to be rude to anybody, better yet to ruin their day for what? Unless your an ass…racist….or mentally challenged.
    I find them to be respectful and courteous under stress, not in their finest moment, but i can see they are trying, learning, and adjusting to the situation just the rest of us.
    You go to any establishment and act the way you act infront of the transit operator, guarenteed, that you will be asked to go out or cops will be taking you out of the establishment. And this people are paid just for excellent customer service. (they dont drive and deal with bullshit or nice people.) and bring them home safe.
    But, transit operators who try their best to keep up with their schedule cannot afford to stop and call the authorities, because for sure the more they get late their is somebody in the next bus stop that is fuming mad. These individuals are stock on the schedule or thay will answer to the management. If i will put my shoes on their place, i would drive that bus like a taxi cab so that i wont be late, but sooner i relaized that they cannot leave their bus stop in the exact time. It doesnt matter snow storm or anything.
    Now, we cannot overlook that some operators have evolved (attitude) into some bad apples, but hey, we wonder who made them that way!
    So, I give you a challenge try public service (transit operator), and hope you can keep your customer service ability to its finest.

  111. Again:

    “Calgary Transit will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2009. To commemorate its Centennial, Calgary Transit will be publishing two books and we are seeking public input to assist us with the content of the books.”

    How about they only publish ONE book, and use the money they save to work on their web site, where they need a page that airs the problems sillyman and others have written about. I’d like to know, both from the union’s and Calgary Transit’s perspectives, what the challenges are and what we, the patrons, should think, and how we should respond. Everything I’ve experienced concerning Calgary Transit at the managerial level says, “Here’s your bus, live with it.” That’s not the route to a better city.

    I am going to try to get an appointment with these guys later in the Spring. I’m not a grumpy old man, I just want to live in a city that has some self-respect.

  112. being an ex employee if you want better bus times ride the bus at the times you need or call 262-1000 and file a request for later running express buses but just saying it on here will get you no where you need to inform them of your needs stop expecting things to happen and make them happen but unless you have 40 or above people wanting the bus at the same time as you and willing to do it daily nothing will change they cut routes and add routes by ride ship not by your individual needs its the needs of the many over the needs of the few an example of this is if 10 people are waitng for the bus and its always full they will add a bus but also if a bus is driving and no one is riding then they will cut that bus so get out there ride transit show them you have the demand for the service and make the call 262-1000 this will get things in the right direction

    your friendly bus drivers voice.

  113. LOL- I was wondering if anyone was going to bring up the buskers. The rule in Calgary (long ago when dinosaurs walked the earth) was that you could play in certain parts of the city, and as long as you weren’t offensive to people, or abusive, you were pretty much left alone.
    Nowadays, in this strange climate of corporate defensiveness (“let’s get those homeless people off the street and into affordable housing…but don’t build it anywhere near ME!”), public performing of any sort, from music to magic, fortune-telling to face-painting, is practically criminal. I for one (along with a goodly number of Calgary performers) don’t automatically treat street performing as a charity case- donations are appreciated, but optional (I myself have been tossed skater stickers, flowers, religious materials, and peanuts- seriously), but standards are important. Auditions are really important, because one obnoxious folk guitar player can make Calgary even more incensed against every performer out there. The Calgary Downtown Association in particular seems to think buskers are closet criminals who need to get police checks (a great plan for some of those young cello players I see).

    I do applaud Calgary Transit for licensing buskers- I don’t know what resources are in place for people to complain about individual performers, but they certainly should be prepared to get some feedback from the people who really don’t have any choice but to file past them and endure. It sucks to be told to “tone it down” or change your act, especially when you really love what you do, but it comes with the turf. By all means complain- with any luck, they’ll be replaced with some of the really cool, really GOOD musicians I’ve met.
    I never played on platforms mainly because there’s bugger all security and precious little room!

    Ahem…back to transit…
    Has anyone heard anything about the results of the McKnight/Westwinds survey they did a month or so back? I’m holding on to hope that they’re rethinking bus/train connections there- the chronic foot pain I’m getting from constantly having to run to catch the bus/train at that station is getting worse…..

    -hope you all have a great long weekend!
    “meh-eh-eh-eh….chew, chew”

  114. Add more tains? What makes you think that is helping?Trains used to travel at 80km/hr now we are traveling at 50 – 60km/hr because we are directly behind another train, if that train gets its doors blocked by a comuter waiting for anyone buying a ticket or just approaching the train it delays all the trains or any busses following the train. In training we are told “people wait for trains, trains don’t wait for people” management has put out memos to tell us that we are NOT to reopen the doors after they close and lock, then we are spit at, slurpies thrown at the windshield, called assorted parts of the anatomy or even theatened with physical harm, now I ask how many of these people go to work and obey management orders and expect this kind of treatment. Padestrians walk in front of the train with the atitude “Its ok he’ll stop” duh! Cars stopping on the tracks. where in the world is this legal? but are tickets given out? no, we don’t want to upset anyone god forbid. If you want to speed up the tain travel you as a comuter must take some things in your own hands. We need to be up to 4 car trains now, not 10 years from now. Get verbal when someone holds a door (the driver cannot do anything or the public calls in a complaint) and for your safety call your alderman and demand that something is done about jaywalkers and cars blowing through yellow and red lights.

    To the bus driver. Not all operators were willing to go on strike over the new Eldorado shuttles you have been misinformed by the union. There was 125 train drivers that wanted a separate seniority list which the city was offering but the union didn’t want it, instead train drivers got a 5% + 1% +1% increase which made our choice of work even worse than it was due to what we affectionatly call the 7% – ers. Now the regular comuters have probobly seen an increase in poor attitude among the c-train drivers because we have a bunch of operators there just for the money (7% over 3yrs.) and the core group that enjoyed their job getting the run around from our very own union.

    I have read this blog with great interest and I agree with most of the complaints and I see 3 major problems with Calgary Transit 1) The schedulers are out of touch with reality. 2) Management are trying to keep everyone happy ( even the substance abusers get to ride for free, they even get a free ride back downtown if they get stuck on the last train to Sumerset our security gives them a ride to the drop in center or Alpha house at the tax payers expense. 3) Stations are built without any thaught but at great expense, McKnight Westwinds is a great example, it is a grand tour to try and get to the platform from the bus loop or visa versa compoud the issue with the schedulers planning and what have you got? a lot of upset comuters. So what is the answer? Clean house starting from the top. A new attitude is needed. A new rail car costs 4.2 million dollars, a 3 car train is 12.6 million dollars of tax payers money the attitude of everyone must change including the city police, if people urinate, deficate, vomit or litter someone must take charge and fix the problem. Did you realise that it costs the tax payer $250 to change off a rail car? put that together with a cost of $600 for the ambulance ride all because some crack head urinated on the train and this is not an isolated issue it happens 3 to 4 times a day sometimes more – your tax dollars hard at work but don’t loose faith transit security is there, somewhere, usually 45mins away but they are there, bringing up the rear after someone is stabbed, punched or a female passenger is harrased to the point of tears. As an operator we are told what to do by the controller if they say carry on then we have to carry on or face diciplanary action hence the issue in the newspaper recently about the alledged drunk laying on the floor of the train. The operator does report every passenger help button before they leave the cab to investigate then decisions are made for them by someone else but who gets the blame? the operator.

    There are a lot of realy good transit operators in this city, people that care about you the customer but they don’t get the help that is required to do their job to the best of their ability, management causes distrust and the union breeds incompitancy. Enough ranting. If you the customer realy want to know what is happening to your tax dollars talk to your opererators on the side, not in a group but talk with a little compassion and understanding and you might be very suprised at what you may hear.

  115. Hey Train Driver,

    Thanks for the insights into the system. I’ve been wondering why C-Trains sometimes seem to operate the way that they do. It seems to me that we need to change the way C-Trains work. No more “honour” system for ticketing. Secure stations to keep the abusers out. Actual security instead of those cameras — does anyone even look at those anymore? And if you’re going to put someone in charge of the train, let’s not hobble their ability to actually run the train by preventing them from doing anything.

    Cleaning house seems like a good place to start. The question then becomes how to change bureaucratic opinion and status quo…

  116. Thanks Train Driver for explaining things from the point of view of an LRT operator. There are some points that you had brought up that I would like to expand on.

    The whole problem of security has to due with inadequate security in the form of PS. They stay in their vans in the downtown core and rarely ever ride trains. What many people would like to see is for PS’s budget and duties to be taken over by CPS. It would also be nice to see a communications officer or other professional emergency responders take over from the PS100/Help Phone/262-1000 people when answering help phones. Just those 2 changes alone would increase security on the LRT system.

    Other issues with security have to do with the design of the system. Turnstiles like Toronto (where you can’t even enter the platform area without a paid fare) which are manned by security staff is probably too late for Calgary especially along 7th Ave. On 7th Ave, you have Center Street and 1 Street SW stations which have the sidewalk incorporated into the station. The NE stations and some of the NW along with some of the South stations could easilty add turnstiles. Greater enforcement by having actual police officers on platforms checking for fares and busting people for smoking on transit property as well as other common unenforced offenses would go a long way in making transit safer in this city.

    The 7th Ave free fare zone should be eliminated a.s.a.p. Letting crackheads, drunken natives and other `sleepers` ride around the system for free all day is encouraging them to puke on a train car at some point later on in the day, scaring the paying public, causing a stink in the train all day, or causing problems removing the individual off the train when it goes out of service for the night thus requiring either PS or CPS to respond. All that costs money. It costs money to taxpayers to have `sleepers` removed by CPS or PS. It also costs money when one of the cars of a train goes ‘sick’ and has to be turned off and isolated (people are kicked off of it). Sometimes the train is forced to run as a 2 car as a result for the rest of the night. Getting a changeoff train unneccessarily ties up maintenance staff and cleaning staff for a sick car. Very rarely do the offenders ever pay or ever get into trouble for puking or urinating or defecating on a train. Most of the offenders get on the train at 7th Ave because it is free. Let us get rid of this joke of a ‘free fare zone’ to help make the system safer and cleaner.

    Jaywalking is an everyday thing. You get used to it. I make good use of the horn and clanger. Jaywalking is an offense under the City’s transit bylaw. Unfortunately, there has been zero enforcement on jaywalking in front of trains on 7th Ave. All the train can do is sound the horn and go into full emergency braking. If someone gets hit while jaywalking, it is their own fault especially since they will be going against the traffic light and also staring at a ‘don’t walk’ sign. The accident will always be deemed as ‘non-preventable’ or no fault of the train driver. The train driver might go off on stress leave and be gone for months.

    The eldorado shuttle bus is a non-issue to the vast majority of train drivers and even a good number of bus drivers. That grievance is going to arbitration during the week of December 8, 2008. The worst that can come out of it for the city is that they get told that they have to pay all shuttle operators backpay for the dif between highest transit operator wage level and shuttle operator wage along with bumping up the shuttle operator wage. That would effectively make the shuttle operator and transit operator positions virtually the same. The best that they can hope for is to be told that those eldorados are shuttle buses. Personally, I don’t care either way. I can’t believe that we almost went to strike over this.

    The 7%ers that you mentioned are here to stay. The ones that couldn’t cut the mustard are gone. The ones that remain will either adjust to the system (most of them have) or slowly `opt-off` and return to buses. Fact of the matter is that trains have always been staffed by really junior operators who were forced into driving trains and a combination of senior drivers. The cycle has been for juniors to spend a little time and then opt-off and go back to buses. Their position is taken by new junior operators. It has been this way for at least a decade if not more. There is constant training of new train drivers and constant change in staff. A new group of 7%ers will be coming on trains next March and bumping off some of the junior people back to bus whether they like it or not. Seniority’s a b**tch.

    I would love to see a separate seniority list for trains, but as long as the votes are 1300 (bus drivers) to 100 (train drivers) the bus drivers hold the balance of power in the union. The combined votes of office staff/electromechanics/mechanics/shuttle drivers/service lane also make up more of a voting block then train drivers.

    I agree with you about ‘more trains’. We need either separation of the lines or 4 car trains. It is sickening being signed up on a piece of work mon-fri where I have to sit on the bridge in between Sait and Sunnyside for up to 5 minutes due to a backlog of trains. It should never take 15 minutes to go from SAIT to 8 St. That is my daily time. After making it into Sunnyside, we have to sit on the Kensington Bridge, then at 4th Ave, then at 5th, and then at 6th Ave. Finally we have to sit waiting for 202 trains at signal 19A. Finally we get into 8 St and due to 6 st being closed it takes 3 traffic lights to load and unload people.

    4 car trains requires many platforms to be rebuilt. In some locations it means rebuilding ped-x crossing, signal boxes, intersections to be rebuilt (39th Ave for example). Not all substations can handle power demands for 4 car trains. That has to be addresses as well. 4 car trains would require traffic signals to have their signal timings changed at some locations. The short block between 3 st and 4st on 7th Ave cannot even accommodate a 3 car train, 4 car trains will have to really watch that. A 4 car train sitting on 9 St between 4th and 6 Ave would block car traffic. We might need signal pre-emption there. I agree with you that we need 4 car trains NOW but most likely we won’t get them until 2012-2015 sometime.

    Finally, Westwinds station is a joke. There are 3 minute turn arounds. If you need to goto the washroom at that station you will be down 5 minutes or more and not be able to make it up because the incompetent schedulers who don’t realize how long things actually take when you are driving a train. Changing ends takes time. The time for the schedule is the same as when Whitehorn was the end of the line. The bus loop, train platform and washroom/lunchroom are all miles apart from each other.

  117. Earlier (many posts ago) I said I was hoping to “connect” with some CT people (I have been away, and then busy with classes) but I did hear from a couple of people. Part of my response (no offense intended to to this blog, I’m sure you see:

    “….As far as Calgary Transit is concerned, I think a good step would be for the City to fund major improvements in how you communicate with the citizenry, starting with CT web pages. Among those improvements should be an on-line forum for dialog between elected officials, CT administration and staff, and others. I don’t know why people should have to turn to “calgary-transit-sucks” in order to have discussions and to try to gain understanding of issues. I am searching for evidence that Calgary Transit is a twenty-first century organization, and a good way to demonstrate that would be to make CT web pages into a conduit of information both positive and negative….”

  118. Clyde, you are not the only one asking questions about Calgary Transit.

    From Today’s Calgary Sun:

    Wed, June 11, 2008
    It’s a bus-t so far to get Calgary Transit service some places, so let’s get this problem turned in the right direction
    UPDATED: 2008-06-11 02:53:56 MST


    Buses, along with power, water and roads, are one of those municipal amenities most folk tend to take for granted.

    Not so for the transit-deprived residents of Auburn Bay, who’ve been waiting for the better part of three years for the first bus to reach their deep-southeast suburb.

    “All it would take is an extra five minutes for a bus to drive into Auburn Bay from Cranston,” said Harpal Dhillon, an Auburn Bayer who hitches a daily ride with his daughter to Somerset LRT station, just to reach his job in the northeast.

    Right now, the closest bus stop to Auburn’s 900 homes is located a full community away in neighbouring Cranston.

    Adding insult to the prospect of a very long walk, the Calgary Transit website helpfully suggests passengers somehow hop, skip or run screaming across six lanes of Deerfoot Tr. to reach that distant stop.

    Blame a Transit computer hiccup for that dangerous suggestion — it obviously isn’t programmed to help residents in the half-dozen or so bus-starved neighbourhoods on Calgary’s outskirts.

    At least Calgary Transit has some good news for the 2,300 people living in Auburn Bay: The first bus should be pulling into the community before the snow flies again, hopefully this fall.

    But at least one alderman has bad news for Calgary Transit — Ald. Ric McIver says he’s livid over the glacial pace of getting transit service into new communities, and he’s demanding new bus drivers be hired immediately.

    “You can keep making excuses for the bus driver shortage for as long as you like, but eventually, you have to perform and hire some people,” said McIver.

    “Calgary Transit needs to get its act together and hire some bus drivers, and if not, it’s time for the city to give control of this to someone who does know how to hire qualified drivers.”

    Transit officials have been complaining they are short 200 drivers for the past two years, and job fairs, including one last November, have failed to fill the gaps.

    While no new community is offered full transit service until the population reaches a critical mass, Calgary Transit officials say the shortage of staff — 100 regular bus drivers and 100 community shuttle operators — is forcing them to ration routes.

    A glance at the Calgary Transit website shows service gaps in areas such as Panorama Hills, Tuscany, Copperfield and New Brighton, as well as a multitude of newer communities where bus stops are sparse and hard to reach.

    Transit spokesman Ron Collins says all attempts are being made to hire more drivers, with a job fair over the weekend attracting hundreds of interested people.

    “We are doing everything we can to hire more drivers,” said Collins.

    Transit and city council look set for a scrap over the issue, but a quick glance at this paper’s classifieds might explain why so few people seem willing to pilot a shuttle for $18.56/hour or a bus for $21.46/hour, given the unsociable hours required.

    General labourers can earn $18 an hour with nights and weekends off, while landscapers rake in $16.50 and up, wear cut-offs and only ever work under the sun.

    That these relatively unskilled jobs pay almost as much as driving for Calgary Transit, and that the classifieds are rife with skilled jobs that pay as much or more as being a bus jockey, should serve as a wake-up call for the City of Calgary.

    Having just spent $716 million on a blueprint to build the west leg of the LRT, the city has demonstrated the value it places on transit — so why are drivers for badly needed buses worth so little?

    The result is thousands of Calgarians forced to drive to get around, because buses aren’t available, and citizens frustrated over being denied a basic municipal service.

    Nicole Naylor, 17, lives in Auburn Bay, and she says the lack of transit is a serious pain for students.

    “It’s not good — I can’t get to school unless I get a ride,” said Naylor, who attends the nearest high school in Sundance. “If the city is going to build new communities, they should focus on them, instead of building LRT in areas that already have service.”



    Police seek LRT control
    UPDATED: 2008-06-14 04:06:06 MST

    $9m price tag projected


    Plans being pushed by Calgary cops to take over security on the city’s LRT system will require at least 70 new officers, the establishment of a new district office and cost around $9 million, says a secret draft report acquired by the Sun.

    The report, obtained through police sources, is making the rounds through police brass, and is an updated version of a similar proposal that was turned down by city council eight years ago, but has been reworked to meet the current needs of the expanded system.

    While the plan may still change before it comes forward for any council approval, it suggests a ninth district office, likely in the former District 7 headquarters in Silver Springs, be established exclusively for police who will take over security for the LRT lines from existing transit cops.

    The cost to hire and train the new officers and establish the new headquarters would be about $9 million and may be included in the Calgary Police Service’s upcoming three-year budget request to city council.

    Police refused to comment on the report yesterday, but last month Deputy Chief Al Redford told the Sun they are best equipped to handle the increasingly complicated and potentially dangerous job of LRT security.

    “It’s the most effective way of policing the line — we have the resources, the authority, the training and equipment that other elements in the city don’t have,” he said.

    “Our citizens need to feel safe on the LRT corridor and if the police service is a source of reassurance if nothing else, then that will be an improvement.”

    Calgary Transit now has resposibility for patrolling the LRT system and has about 50 transit cops, the bulk of them in the downtown core, while there has been funding set aside to enlarge the roster to 69.

    Ald. Ric McIver, one of two aldermen on the Calgary Police Commission, said the idea is worth exploring.

    “I don’t know what the long-term plans are, but the game of cops and robbers is still the same, police need to go where the bad guys are, even if that’s on trains,” he said.

    “There are police on the LRT now and I support that.”

    Calgary cops are continuing a pilot project alongside transit officers to patrol lines in the northeast in an effort to curb crime and boost the perception of public safety.

    Ald. Andre Chabot said he thinks it’s too early to push for the change.

    “There are certain aspects of the LRT that having a police presence on trains or in stations would be good, but we need more details.”

  120. how long does it take on average during business tours from shawnessy to mid downtown via c-train? 40 mins? 45 mins? thanks

  121. A few random things about Calgary Transit:
    1. Marlborough station quite often has a strange smell to it, has anyone else noticed?
    2. It’s annoying having to walk across the street to change trains, especially when the lights don’t work in your favour, and you see your train drive by, as you helplessly wait for the the walk signal.
    3. I’ve heard many people from outside of Calgary scoff at the term ‘train’ and refer to our C’train as ‘Little Trolley Carts’
    4. The trains do not cover enough of the city, and neither do the buses
    5. At mcknight, the 55 and 21 – both of which follow the same route – are some reason schedualed to arrive at the same time. Why?
    6. There are often too little of one bus and too many of another. The 55 and the 21 as another example. Sometimes there will be one very tightly packed 55, and then a few minutes later two empty 21’s will roll in.
    7. The buses wait until the train comes and the people are almost at the bus, then they leave. Sometimes a lucky few get on. Those are usually the ones who run. I’ve been on near empty buses that leave right after a packed full train pulls in. If you were one of those people on the train, you’re waiting another 15 or 30 minutes for your bus, which by the time another train or two comes in, will be be crowded.
    8. At mcknight station there has been a couple times where I’ve seen a lady in a wheelchair waiting for the 55, but she’s got left there because everyone crowds in front of her, and don’t let her on.
    9. I used to take the 73 Daily, and it quite often would just not come, or would come so late that there were two coming at the same time. Sometimes the bus would come on time, but without warning would go out of service at whitehorn, and you’d be stuck there waiting for 30 or more minutes for the next one
    10. During rush hour I’ve noticed that they’ve been taking trains from the NE line, and using them for the Sunnyside or Dalhousie tracks. I can’t say that I’ve taken either of those trains during rush hour, so I don’t know if they need the extra trains more than the NE lines. However, last time this happened, not only were some of the trains being used for the other tracks, but the one we were on was only given two carts.

  122. Getting back to Urban Goat (May 13) and buskers, it would take a much more irritating busker than we have at my station to inspire me to complain. But I do wonder about this guy’s own notion of himself, starting with the choice of instrument–banjo–which simply does not work in a reverberant space like Dalhousie Station. Next I ask myself, “What is the social utility of this–could he stay employed at something more constructive, or better rewarded financially?” He doesn’t seem to get many contributions, and he has on two or three occasions displayed a little handwritten sign asking if anyone has a room for rent (hmmm….).

    Re: #7, immediately above (July 21)–isn’t it a “hoot” how buses pull out at inopportune times. I’ve been watching this for a while, trying to decide if my observations and experiences have any statistical validity. What I need to know is how much slack there is in a typical route in my area, because it seems to me that if a bus driver sees a train pulling in (there should be a visual indicator for those who can’t see the tracks) AND his bus is significantly “underpopulated” he or she ought to be allowed to bend the scheduled departure from the station in order to to pick up some passengers from the next batch coming from the train (90 seconds would be a fair compromise between eager riders and those older folks who don’t move so fast). Wouldn’t it be possible for this delay to be made up in the driver’s current circuit–or at least wouldn’t there be a decent chance of that happening?

    As for the smell at the Marlborough Station–haven’t been there, so I can’t make a comparison, but when I described to the folks at CT the smell of University station to be “like that of a disinfected motel room in which someone has recently died” (or words very close to these) the awful smell at the station abated somewhat–it still smells the same, just a little less so.

    On a more pleasant note, in past weeks I’ve seen plenty of teenage riders thank their bus drivers with politeness and obvious sincerity. This can’t wholly compensate drivers for the perils and irritations that have been eloquently pointed out on this blog, but it’s evidence that all is not lost.

    One last point. I have decided that bus drivers vary considerably in their skills. With about half the drivers, there could be some improvement in the categories of “lurching” and “riding the gas and brake pedals.” But I’ve never driven one of the beasts….

  123. Hans, its 22 minutes from Shawnessy to Olympic Plaza +/- 2-3 minutes depending on how busy the platforms are in the south like Anderson, Chinook, etc.

  124. Gomee,

    At Marlborough, I believe the smell you are referring to is the smell of urine. Its at other stations like City Hall and many bus stops in the downtown core as well.

    The 21 and 55 are the same routes but run in opposite ways. The reasoning for it is if you live along Castlridge Dr., it is much faster for you to catch the 55 then 21. Similarly, its faster to catch the 21 if you live along Falconridge Dr. It is the same for anyone that lives in the middle of the routes. They were not thinking of the person for whom either one of those buses will be the same amount of time.

    You see this problem at McKnight a lot where buses are scheduled to leave the time that the trains still crossing over and not even into the platform. Partially its due to the poor design of the station, partially due to the tight schedule of the train. Drivers used to have 10 minutes to kill each trip at Whitehorn. Now there are ‘3 minute turn-arounds’. Similarly, buses have tight schedules too. If they wait for all the people that are going to come off of a particular train, they will be down 5 or more minutes not be able to make it up. It is the same thing every trip. Within a couple trips of leaving the station late, the bus can be like 10 minutes late. Not a great thing for anyone that is waiting at a bus stop elsewhere route.

    Wheelchair has the #1 priority on buses. The driver didn’t do his job. If anyone is in the front seats, they are supposed to move and make way for a wheelchair. The only time a wheelchair is supposed to be left behind is if the bus does not have a ramp and does not kneel or if there are already 2 wheelchairs abroad it. Strollers, seniors, anyone else out there has to give priority to wheelchairs on buses.

    What time was it that you’d see 2 73’s?. The rush hour extra buses all go out of service at either Chinook, Whitehorn, or Brentwood. The extra buses are the reason why there is 15 min service on that route during AM and PM rush hours (6:00 AM to 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM). When its either 9:01 AM or 6:01 PM, there will be extra buses going out of service and heading back to the garage. The service then becomes 30 minute service again.

    Trains going to the NW have to do partially with giving U of C and SAIT students a direct train in both rush hours, and also partially to do with parking of trains. 3 trains get parked at Dalhousie at the end of each rush hour from the NE line. They are used again for PM rush hour or the next day. All trains come from either the South or NW as there are no trains stored in the NE at this time.

  125. Clyde, with regard to your question about ‘underpopulated’ buses, it really depends on the route. Getting into Crowfoot shopping center and out again can eat up time on a lot of these routes. Lets go through some examples at Dalhousie. Something like a 77, you have nothing but time. A 154 not so much time and it is go-go-go. A Route 10 Home Road – not so much time, but by the time it circles Market Mall and comes back to Dalhousie, there is usually a 10-15 min layover. A 37,137,143,43 all depend on time of day. In rush hour those routes need all the time they can get and with the exception of the section of 43 and 37 that goes towards Brentwood as it has lots of time to burn. The other section that goes to Crowfoot, it is tight. W.B. 143 and 137 are scheduled only 3 minutes to make it through to the other side of the bus trap/gate underneath Sacree Tr. A 54/76 (they alternate) in rush hour doesn’t have a lot of time to burn. A 22 or 122 are in a world of their own and isolated from anything else that runs at Dalhousie and usually have low ridership and some time at various places on the route.

  126. It is suppose to be good to have a route schedule. But when the bus is not run on schedule it is so annoying. You don’t know when it will come or if it will come. I have experienced this so many times on 43 and 143 bus route. I really hope the frustrating delay no more.

  127. I am currently in Seattle, and having experienced a bit of the city’s hilly and congested streets yesterday, today we wisely took the bus (our original intention anyway, except for distant shopping locales). Well, the ride into town was EXPRESS and very fast, for $1.50–the off-peak, single-zone fare–and we were let off in a huge bus tunnel downtown that was just a block from our destination (and a couple of stories underground). The ride home was another NO-WAIT, SUPER-FAST trip back out to the University District, $1.75.

    Calgary isn’t Seattle (where a Bill Gates can contribute $25 million to the expansion of the Seattle Art Musuem,) but I now have a better handle on what it’s like to be in a city that is obliged to take transit very seriously.

  128. Calgary Transit – What A Joke

    Okay so one bus is a little late fine, in my case I have an alternate route. When one bus doesn’t show up — okay fine — that’s not common so I’ll take the alternate route. When 2 buses don’t show up you start to wonder if you missed the memo. Check the website from my iPhone and no notice of any problems. When over the course of 45 minutes 3 buses don’t show you start to think what the f*@k is wrong with this picture. Yes, Calgary Transit sucks.

  129. Comments like Roland’s make me feel fortunate–all I suffer is a recurrent mediocrity of service. For example, getting skipped by three full buses five stops away from the CT station.

    If you could count on CT to explain to you what is going on, before or after the fact, you might be able to accept some of its shortcomings. But Calgary Transit is an information-poor environment, from start to finish. Until they change that they will have few friends in the community.

  130. There are many reasons why buses are not on schedule. Management has come to accept the fact that some buses on certain routes will run up to 15 minutes late or more due to traffic and high passenger volumes during peak times. They choose to accept this rather than make adjustments to schedule or the actual route.

    Construction monkeys have been given free reign to close whatever lane whenever they want. Sometimes there are no viable detours. Sometimes certain routes have 3 dif detours (like route 7 this past week) and on top of that there is a detour for one of the detours. How does one maintain a schedule with so many detours? Most of these detours are onto narrow streets with parked cars on both sides and not really suitable for full sized buses.

    Sometimes they run out of manpower, but that should not be an excuse anymore. There are 500 more bus drivers now then this time last year and trainees graduating every other Monday.

    Buses breakdown. That is a fact. Usually getting a replacement bus to a place like Dalhousie or Brentwood takes them an hour or more. If they wanted to, they could improve this time by having buses with change-off drivers on standby at Brentwood and Dalhousie ready to change off any bus with mechanical problems that cause to be pulled out of service.

    Take routes 421, 58/158, 143/43 for example. Construction at Crowfoot station, on Crowchild Tr (between 53 St and Nose Hill), in Crowfoot shopping centre, at Stoney Trail and Crowchild, and even inside Tuscany have Rockyridge have killed whatever ‘layover’ or ‘recovery time’ the driver had on that route. If you have 3 to 5 trips on the route and even after leaving on time after the 1st trip, you are guaranteed to run late with no recovery time until your last trip, would you really care for the schedule anymore? Management will just say ‘carry on and book your overtime accordingly Controller # xx’. The scheduling department has refused to add any more time because most of these routes will be ‘deleted’ or altered once the new Crowfoot station opens. I guess they expect drivers to just ‘hold it’ and not goto the washroom. The ATU 583 union has this to say on that topic:


    “We have a number of people complaining about the schedules that we have to follow, that there is no time to take breaks or use the washroom. There is nothing more important than insuring that you are comfortable while you are operating your bus. If you need to use the washroom, stop your bus and use it. Management at Calgary Transit does not schedule recovery time in to the runs. I guess they think you will simply hold it until your shift is over. This is unacceptable, you are entitled to use whatever facilities you may require.

    When you are running late, let Management know that you are late. Do not try to make up your time by taking short cuts or exceeding the speed limit. If you are speeding and get caught no one will say, “oh you were trying to keep your bus on time, we understand”. No, they will say, “you got a ticket, pay it”, and we will keep track of how many you get and then we will call you back in to talk to you about it. If you are a probationary employee you will be counseled about it and told that you need to improve your work performance or you will be deemed to be unsuccessful in your probationary period. What that means is you will be fired. So again, take the most responsible approach you can. Do not speed, do not take short cuts. If you get late, inform Radio Control, make it Management’s problem not yours. You will not get in trouble if you are late due to not enough time on the run. In fact, passengers will start to complain. Then and only then will Calgary Transit address the scheduling concerns.”


    At the end of the day, Calgary Transit knows what is wrong with the system and the different routes but chooses not to fix anything.

  131. Today, late morning at Dalhousie Station, I watched as a driver hopped off his bus, dashed over to the route map by the pedestrian bridge, and intently studied it for the better part of a minute. He stated to return to his bus, but then went back and looked at it one last time.

    Why would there not be a spiral-bound booklet of route maps in the bus for the driver’s use?

  132. Hi Clyde,

    All drivers are given each and every route map booklet when they start and they have one big blue binder which all drivers are supposed to carry. That binder has all maps in it of all routes and every few months CT issues updates (ie pages to add or remove). It has detours for buses when cars are stuck inside a bus traps , what radio channel to use, restricted roads for buses, express bus stops, maps of all bus loops so that they know where to park inside that loop, and there is also section that gives info on frequencies of all routes during various times of the week and day.

    The fact that too many drivers are lazy to carry this binder along with a Clearview or Sherlock map book is the reason why you saw what you saw. A good map book with the blue binder should be enough for any good bus driver to never get lost and always know where their route is supposed to go. That is assuming that all drivers that they hired recently can actually can speak and comphrend English verbally and orally, read maps or follow written directions. In the past one could not get hired as a CT driver if you didn’t have such skills. Nowadays they are just concerned about ramming people through the training program.

  133. It’s getting weirder.

    My 137 stopped cold in the right lane of Dalhousie Drive, in the middle of the block, and our driver hopped out to to have a conversation with another driver who had raced across the busy street from his bus. The exchange went on for about a minute and a half, and seemed to have something to do with a key that my driver had been taking off her key ring at the previous light. Buses and cars pulled out and around our bus, creeping by and trying to figure out what was going on.

    My only guess is that this had something to do with the gate at the bus underpass at Sarcee Trail, where I often see buses backed up while a driver goes up to the gate to activate it manually.

  134. Hi Clyde,

    That key is issued to each and every shuttle and bus/c-train operator. It is a key that opens the lock to all lunch rooms and washrooms at various transit bus loops and stations. It also is the key used to open bus trap gates such as the one at Sarcee between Dalhousie and Ranchlands. Most buses (the all-day ones) are issued a remote control gate to open the gate. The problem is with so many rush hour extras and some buses that will only go through the gate once a day, it is not feasable to give every driver a remote gate opener. So as a backup, the gate can be operated with the washroom key in case the operator doesn’t have a gate opener. The catch is that the driver would have to park the bus a bit back of gate and get out and turn the key.

    Why someone would not carry such an important key with them on the job is beyond me. For nothing else, if they have to goto the washroom and let’s say no one else is around, they won’t be able to access any transit washrooms.

  135. There were three CT employees at the University bus loop one afternoon last week. They seemed to be collecting data. I should have stopped to ask

    I would be interested to know if people believe their OWN transit experience has improved, deteriorated, or stayed the same, relative to one year ago.

  136. Likely the Operator was giving his/her car keys in so that the other operator could drive the car back to the garage so that; (Regarding the incident along Dalhousie Drive).

    a) the operator working right until the end of the night has the car stowed at the garage, where he or she finishes.
    b) the operator doing good service by taking the car to the garage will help the finishing operator, saving this driver time, not having to take Calgary Transit.

    Personally, I wouldn’t suggest stoping along a major street to do this. Perhaps this was the only time to do it (?). Often there is stress, and in these situations people will do what it takes to get a job done. That minor inconvienice to traffic and customers could have saved both drivers up to 45 minuites with no reprocussions, as long as the drivers were both in bus zones. (45 to 80 minuites vs 15 minuites).

  137. I agree whole-heartedly. Plus now we’ll have the added joy of having to pay for those parking stalls that we have to fight over as it is.

  138. I hear a lot about the poor service people get from Calgary Transit, so I’ll be the odd one out here and say that I’ve been taking transit to Mount Royal since September and I have had absolutely nothing to complain about. I catch my first bus about a 2 minute stroll from my front door, and then I can either step onto the 20, wait five minutes for the next one, or catch the 181 express. If my classes end between 3 and 4 I can take the 181 home again, or else I get the 20, even though it’s really crowded. I am fortunate that I live less than a 10 minute walk from the Brentwood LRT. I’ve seen some surly drivers, but most are very friendly and some drive so smoothly it’s like riding in a limo. Seriously! Smooth acceleration and braking so gentle you can hardly feel when you come to a stop. Gotta love it.

    So, amid all the venom, CT is working out great for me. Some of you have shared experiences with awful and nasty drivers, but that hasn’t been my experience. Here’s an anonymous thank you to the drivers who have made it so easy and convenient for me to get to school!

  139. Pam, my impression is that Calgary Transit has improved over the past year–perhaps on account of higher usage as well as more and better equipment. Let’s hope this trend is sustained, but that at the same time CT does not forget about people and neighborhoods who are not getting the good service that you and I experience much of the time. If CT is getting “good numbers” in user satisfaction, some of that could come about by calculations that you and I might not endorse.

    Today, I punched my ticket in the Northwest at 4:06, got off the train at 8th St., walked ten blocks (round-trip), shopped briefly, caught a NW train to the end of the line, and was at home before an hour had gone by–on one ticket. That keeps my car at home, despite the chilly weather.

  140. Hi everyone, give it a year, service will increase in terms of hours of service for both buses and trains.

    -Routes 402, 406, 8 all just started up this september.

    – Crowfoot station will open sometime this spring. All bus routes like 421,58,158,143,137,37,43 will all be changing to make them more efficient. After Crowfoot opens, there will be construction starting on the Tuscany/Rockyridge station in conjunction with the Stoney Trail/Crowchild interchange.

    -The Oliver Bowen garage for c-trains will open sometime before that. That will mean that CT can start up train service earlier and and end it later on the NE line.

    – More and more 8000 (8066+) series buses are slowly making their way into service. There are only about 30 or so single-stroke engine – GMC (a.k.a. Fishbowl) buses (800,900,1000,1100) left in service. Most of those buses go back to the mid-1970s. Within 2 years they will all be gone and replaced by newer 8000 series which drive better and are more comfortable for customers.

    – LRT will be coming to Saddleridge and Martindale by 2010. Bus routes in the NE will be re-done once those 2 stations open. An interchange is already under construction at Metis Trail and 64 Ave N.E. This extension along with other extensions to Tuscany and even the West LRT will mean more LRV cars being purchased and put into service. The money has already been arranged for that.

    – More and more 6000 series articulated buses will be coming into service. On December 22, 2008 – the 305 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route will start up running most of the length of the route 1, but will not goto either of the 2 loops and using 14st instead of 10 st to speed things up W.B. with LIMITED stops. This will improve service on the route 1 overall.

    -There is also the approved West LRT line, which will begin construction probably in the next year to 2 years and will take at least 5 years to construct.

    – A BRT route will be starting up Sept 2009 to run similarly to how the SELRT willl eventually run usually articulated buses.

    -Hours of service will increase for buses overall and with Crowfoot opening, there will be a slight increase in headway on the NW-S line.

  141. Must also mention the new Community Shuttle Buses…. very smooth and comfortable. The driver seemed to like the bus too. CT is moving is a positive direction. Lets see more of these buses and perhaps waiting 30 min won’t be as much of an issue.

  142. Unfortunately I do not share Jim’s enthusiasm for the perceived improvements to CT’s system. I traverse from Midnapore to the Shawnessy LRT station by bus and train it downtown.

    Initially with 3 busses at the stop (12, 15 and 52) you would think that service would be adequate or even better but sadly it is not. I have seen times when no bus shows up, two busses are right behind one another when according to Telebus they are supposed to be upwards of 3 – 5 minutes apart or the bus arrives at a completely different time than what is reported by the call system.

    The times reported by Telebus are woefully inaccurate as I have witnessed busses coiming early, late and not at all. I have to question is the call system on the same time that the drivers are? Why is there such a large discrepency? I can sympathize when weather and traffic dictate delays but early?

    The reason I am posting is because I was surprised to see how many people are experiencing the same thing I am in all areas of the city. What put me over the edge was the last couple of times I got off the LRT to catch the bus home only to watch it drive by and not wait for the people to cross the tracks after the train goes by. It is plain to see that the bus only need wait for 10 – 15 seconds for people to get to it. How has common courtesy slipped transit training? In fact the bus wasn’t even late in leaving the Shawnessy station, it was leaving early! Telebus said 7:30 pm and when I looked at my cell phone it was 7:25! Ok, so Telus has different time than CT giving them the benefit of the doubt that my phone was wrong but I seriously doubt that. It is not the first time this has happened either and what if I was a senior citizen who needed that bus in order to get home, I would have to wait for the next one and what if the weather was not as nice as it is? It amazes me that this simple act of waiting to see if there were any passengers who required the bus that were already off the train is beyond a drivers comprehension. Sorry, it doesn’t amaze me, it disgusts me.

    I agree that Calgary has grown significantly over the last 10 years and that infrastructure was not designed to support the number of people we have today. However, I believe citry planners should have had the last few years to analyze, investigate and develop plans that would take this city and transform it into one that can handle the current and future population densities and distributions but all I am seeing is that they are trying to duct tape current inadequate systems
    in hopes of somehow satisfying the existing residents.

    Of course I will continue to ride CT as I just can’t stand sitting on the Macloed or Deerfoot parking lots nor will I pay the exhorbitant parking fees that our downtown demands on a monthly basis.

  143. I take the 166 in front of Bow Valley Square downtown at 5:07 PM in the evening however, have had to resort to taking alternate bus routes for the month of December and January 2009. This is suppose to be an “Express” bus. What a joke that is. For the most part, it’s anywhere from a half an hour to an hour late every evening and as there is only one bus at this time (two in total during the rush hour – one at 4:40 the other at 5:07) it takes up to an hour and half getting home in the evening where in the summer time, it only takes 20 minutes.

    Bus tickets went up in 2009 and I must say I resent this as gas prices went down — that’s down, down, down. So, why are we having to pay more for a service that is extremly slow and never on time!

  144. Calgary Transit has various needs to fill with limited resources. Easily, Calgary Transit is one of the best transit systems in Canada.

    From using the system, I don’t see any major problems. Calgary Transit is better than OC Transpo, TTC, Winnipeg Transit, and CMBC (Vancouver).

    Reasons why you see issues;

    – tight schedules (bus leaves “early”, bus leaves when train pulls in, bus leaves late, buses are bunched together). Alternative: well not alot really, its the reality in any major Canadian city. Reccommended: take an earlier train/bus. Have a defined routine and stick to it. Dont assume ignorance at every oppurtunity.

    – few schedulers, dispactcher, supervisors, controllers (bus not on time, bus always late, service design, bus slow, etc) Alternative: hire more middle management, but this costs money, and the economies of scale more than likely dictate against this. Recommended: call 311. Ask the driver, find reliable connections, propose solutions.

    For everyone with an opinion, let your thoughts be known, but provide an alternative. For the person complaining about the 166, what could be done more efficiently, and why is it sluggish and late? For the person at Shawnessy station, are you sure, or are you ignorant? In the case that you are sure, did you ask the driver and if so, did you personally see heavy traffic, and if so where? Now, are you ever going to travel the same direction in the same line at all times? If you say no, well you are ignorant and have no basis to complain.

  145. Part of the reason why your express bus might be late all the time is probably due to scheduling of that specific bus. It might also be due to the fact that 5:07 pm happens to be the busiest time of day for traffic along 5th or 6th. The biggest reason why the bus is late the time is lack of support from management for the bus driver.

    Many buses do more than one route. Typically, in the afternoon: the bus will first do a school run and then an express before heading back to the garage. Sometimes the bus can be late on the school run. As an example, I once had to take a bus out of the garage at 32nd and Deerfoot in the NE and head to Lord Beaverbrook school in Acadia. From Acadia the school run went through Shawnessy and Midnapore. I became stuck in a traffic jam on deerfoot on the way back north. I was then supposed to goto Chinook station to start as a 23 which ended at Saddletown circle. I started in at Chinook a half hour late. The 23 is notorious for being late. As luck would have it a CP or CN freight train had me sitting in one spot in the industrial area for another 30 minutes. By the time I finished out of service in Saddleridge, I was already more than 1 hour into overtime and had yet to drive back to the garage and wait for the bus to be cleaned (usually a lineup). That’s the kind of stuff that drivers deal with. How much sense is there to have a bus goto Saddleridge and Shawnessey in the same afternoon along with stopping at Chinook and still being able to keep it on time in rush hour? Those schedulers who design the runs know everything that goes on but refuse to fix problems with the system.

    As an example, I’ll give you what happens from the driver’s point of view:
    I do an express everyday that starts at 4:00pm from 6 Ave and Macleod Tr that heads to th NW. I report to work at a garage at 32nd Ave and Deerfoot Trail N.E. I’ve been doing this express every weekeday since Dec 22. Only 1 other time have I been late and that was due to a fresh snowfall that even cars could not handle and traffic was not moving. As it happens, I reported for work at 3:30 pm. I have 10 minutes to setup my bus. I did that in 6. As I started to go on Deerfoot towards Memorial, I couldn’t drive more than 10 km/h because traffic was backed up due to an accident near the 17 Ave exit. I have no choice but to take Deerfoot, so I worked my way through it. Once I reached where I was supposed to start in service, I called in that I was 15 minutes late on the radio. The response that i got back was “10-4 carry-on”, which is the same response you get when you call in that there are 4 buses on the same route travelling bumper to bumper. This type of blatent lack of support from management is why most drivers just call it in and leave it at that. All late buses report how late they are to management. Management has the option to send Field Supervisors along express stops to notifiy them or even to update teleride, but instead all they do is log the info in their database known as ‘Trapeze’ in case anyone calls in a complaint. The complaint will be answered with reasons like “traffic, road conditions, weather, bus was in an accident, a new driver that got lost or misread their schedule, etc.”

    Bus Drivers have given up on explaining why they are late to passengers because most will not understand anyways. Driving a bus is much different then driving a car. You need most of the lane to fit the bus in it, you can’t follow as close as a car, can’t take shortcuts like a car because many roads are restricted for buses. In heavy traffic during rush hour, most express buses get their passengers home faster (even when late) as compared to if the passengers had to drive their cars home. During the other day that I was late, It was taking 10 traffic lights to cross an intersection on 6th Ave, there was a lot of fresh snow that fell down around 3:30 pm, and traffic was not moving and people were still asking “why are you late?”

  146. To Unhappy CT Customer:

    It is ‘teleride’ and not telebus. Teleride gives approximately the time that the bus will be there usually within a minute or two. What teleride tells you is not the gospel. Major intersections or bus loops, LRT stations are usually used as timepoints. They are listed on pocket schedules. Depending on which route you take, it is important to know where on your route the timepoints are. If a bus gets to a timepoint early, they have to stop and kill their time there before carrying on. If they are late at a timepoint, they have to carry on unless of course someone is standing there or needs to get off the bus at that stop. The thing is if you live between two closely spaced timepoints where in between no one really gets off or on and traffic is not heavy, it is possible for the bus to leave one of the timepoints bang on time and for you to miss the bus based on teleride time and have the bus sitting at the next timepoint killing time. The driver has done nothing wrong in this situation and is just doing their job. Don’t rely on teleride especially if you don’t know where the closest timepoint. If a bus is late, CT upates their internal database whenever a driver calls it in to protect against future complaints against CT and/or the driver and usually it is a legit reason like road conditions, traffic, weather, etc. The problem is that CT will not update teleride. I would suggest that instead of relying on teleride, that you get a hold of a pocket schedule (latest version) of your route and go by that. Then for sure you would know whether or not a bus is late rather than guessing. You can always ask the driver too: “why are you late?”

  147. I find it as a losing battle, where we as the CT operators will find ourselves explaining why this things happen. I have observed and even experience that no matter how you explain it, our customers (not generally) will always perceived us like bumbling idiots grasping for lame excuses. i reach the point that I always answer back that “i would drive this bus / train like a taxi cab with out schedules to follow, management to answer to, if I have the choice, personally”. I would certainly do it so that I will not be spending my time explaining my self, care free and without a threat of customer complaints, management grilling you when they investigate why you received such complaints, and ultimately losing your job. But the CT management made the SYSTEM fool proof for them and not for the employees.
    When they ask me why I am late: it is just because SAFETY for my self is the priority, and ultimately to my customers. Better safe than SORRY!
    Everybody thinks that their individual schedule is important, and it is. So with that operator that needs to go home to their respective families, after ensuring that everybody had their just due.
    In every basket of tomaoes, their is always rotten ones. Human beings as we all are, please give everybody the benefit of the doubt, as I always do. Who knows they might have always worthy motives unknown to US.

  148. demolay40,

    You are absolutely right, Safety before schedule EVERYTIME. You’re late? so what. Book your overtime at the end of your shift.

    No bus driver ever gets in trouble for being late during rush hour. Management (Control, Schedules, Dispatch, Supervisors) are well aware of problem routes. If they had the will to do it, they could fix many routes. Why should the driver take it from the public when it is management that is not doing their job?

    For them to fire or even discipline someone for being ‘late’, it would have to be due to the fact that someone was doing it on purpose and they had caught them doing it red-handed. As far as getting fired, it is in reality very hard to get fired in this job. The union will protect you and go to bat for you even when you are clearly in the wrong. Even after you’re fired, they can get your job back with backpay and apology letters from the City.

    There are some things that you will be fired for that even the union can’t protect you on. One of the biggest things would be: dishonesty. There are a few others. Usually they involve Supervisors monitoring you and catching you doing something red-handed. It is usually like a sting operation with video evidence. Usually these sting operations are complaint driven.

  149. I’m not blaming the operators for the sub par experiences I’ve had with Calgary Transit over the past year but I do want to blame the poorly laid out streets in this city. We cram buses onto already crowded roads where there are too many people driving around. 70% of the time, when I commute to and from work, I will see someone in their car by themselves. Then when the roads get backed up, they get angry and wonder why there are so many people now. Carpooling, whenever possible, needs to be a more common practice in this city.

    There are, however, moments when I have to scratch my head at CT. I have to get out of work, every day half an hour early exactly, if I flub two minutes for example, I’m out of luck. If I’m late, I will miss my bus, and have to wait a half hour for the next one. Then I hit the traffic jam (see cause above) and get stuck waiting in traffic, getting home an hour later than I would have if I had caught my regular bus.

    I’ll admit, I get frustrated when a bus I need doesn’t show up, or a driver doesn’t stop, or the bus is too full. These frustrations are only compounded when it’s -30 degrees celcius outside with blowing snow. No matter how warmly you dress, you can’t last long in weather like that. Everyone in Calgary knows how bitterly cold it gets sometimes. And with these other problems, it becomes extremely difficult to give CT the benefit of the doubt and justify putting up with it instead of becoming one of those people who just drive in a big, spacious car all by themselves. Hey, I’ll add to the traffic problem and get stuck on the roads but at least I’m not waiting outside, freezing as I watch another full bus zoom by.

    Again, this is not the operator’s fault most of the time. They can’t help the weather, the poor scheduling, or the congested streets. It’s just that their customers eventually feel the sting from all three of these factors combined.

  150. I am outraged about the $3 parking fee to park at the C-Train. I park there because it saves me an hour and a half to two hours a day to drive 5 minutes and park. I drive because the bus in unreliable and unpredictable. I do not have the time or inclination to spend 5-20 minutes each way every day hoping that a bus comes so that I can stand against people I really don’t want to know that well, and be nautious and sick for at least 20 minutes or more until the bus finally makes it to my stop. That is of course making the assumption that there is room to get on. Calgary Transit is not worth the $83 bus pass, much less another $60 for parking! I will not pay. I will park on the street, and failing that I will quit or transfer to a location where I can drive and skip the hassle of transit entirely.

  151. This new parking fee is unreal! Why wouldn’t they do it at all the lots at once instead of just picking 3 stations at the ends? Looks like paying all day downtown for parking is looking more and more attractive. Some of us can afford to do that. What about those who can’t afford the fare already and definately can’t afford the $3 fee? Transit is one of those things that s not supposed to make money and in a way its like welfare, anyone should be able to take it, including the working poor. Calgary Transit needs to stop thinking about profit and start thinking about gettng more people to take transit. This City’s standard of living is going down. We are paying an outrageous level of municipal taxes and on top of tat outrageous user fees like the cost of the bus pass and the new parking fee. In spite of that, we have terrible and unreliable transit service in this city, poorly planned interchanges (Bow and Crowchild etc.), poorly planned roads that are over their capacity (Deerfoot), and poorly planned cookie cutter house neighbourhoods, and to top it all off more urban sprawl than any other city in North America of a comparable size. We can all rest easy though. This incompetent mayor and incompetent group of Alderman were voted in for 3 years. They will build 2 multi-million dollar bridges. That will solve all our problems in this city.

  152. Can you imagine overpaying for this unpredictable and immature transit system.

    I am one of those poor people who already have a busy morning which just got busier. I have to drop off my mother at work @ 7 then I and my wife go together and I drop her off at her work then park at McKnight station and go downtown.

    Now since I can’t afford the $3/day fees and don’t really want to pay my lunch money (take lunch from home, so it’s about $3 or less). I have to drop off my wife at work and go back home to park my car and take bus to the station. On my way back I wait for the bus and then go home and take my car and pick up my wife…..

    I hate transit and I hate how the city has become a blood-sucking leech by increasing property tax, downtown parking price, transit fare price, even increasing their own pay and what not… Can *&(*ing imagine that city is doing all this while we are in recession? My heart go to those people lost their jobs and city is just not helping.

    This city has seen lots of money but unfortunately is still old backward motown bring run by few not-so-caring people.

  153. The worst thing about Calgary Transit are the oafish goofballs that answer by Peace Officer. Those goons don’t deserve that title. I only ever see them being disrespectful to passengers.

  154. It would be interesting to hear from an urban economist about the actual cost of the LRT lots–in terms of occupation of space, construction and maintenance, [promised] security, and so forth. I suspect these costs are considerable, and it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that even at $3/day this parking is “subsidized” just like a transit ride. Yet, it would seem reasonable to have brought in these fees more gradually, starting perhaps at $1.50/day. Those who are responsible for the initial $3 charge are typically tone-deaf. Why not give folks some time to think about such a change, and adjust?

    Moreover, just as downtown parking gets cheaper in the evening and on weekends, so should Transit parking. Aside from the economic logic of the “market value” of a service or commodity, you’d think that public policy should support increased ridership when the system can easily support it, especially with respect to citizens getting out evenings and on weekends for commercial, cultural and social activities.

    For me, Calgary Transit has worked slightly better in the past twelve months than it did in the year before, but I still have the impression that CT is not exactly gaining ground as an organization. But what organization in Alberta IS coping well, if it has to rely on our political monoculture for support?

    In short, don’t fault your bus driver for being ten minutes late; fault your legislature for being two or three decades late.

  155. I think that Calgary Transit is doing a great job! In the winter I take it to work, in the summer they let me put my bike on the rack at the front of the bus and I can even take my bike on the c-train. Sure, sometimes I have to stand, but for $83 a month I think that it’s a pretty good service.

    That being said, I have complained about two drivers. One was switching his sign to ‘Out of Service’ as he approached stops on Crowchild Trail towards MRC-Lakeview, and another was being very rude to people as they were getting off the bus. When people get off the bus and say ‘thank you’ to the driver, the driver should really just wave or say ‘you’re welcome’ (or nothing at all), not things like ‘yeah, whatever’. That guy was a jerk!

    I’m also in full support of the parking fee. It’s always nice to get something for free, but really? If someone can find parking downtown for $60/month, please let us know!

  156. Hey Clyde,

    Unless CT managed to clean up a lot of problems in the last little while (which I doubt), I imagine the hatred still exists. Easy way to tell: how many traffic jams are there in the morning? 😉

    As for me, I moved to Costa Rica to get away from CT. 😉 (Joking, mostly.)

  157. Actually, CT is working a lot better for me this year than last, but I won’t assume that everyone has been as fortunate. In fact, I suspect that the opening of the Crowfoot Station, as good a thing as it is, will mean less service for me and for a few others in my locale.

    More of my limited ire is now directed at my fellow passengers (especially between the ages of 12 and 20) than at Calgary Transit–particularly to the young woman who emptied a baggie of dog kibbles on the floor of the train one day last month. At least she had the sense to point out to the animal pieces he’d missed.

    Question: is there some enlightened place in the world that has better jitneys than these so-called “community shuttles”? They were designed in hell if they were designed at all.

  158. Hi Clyde,

    Forget the Community Shuttle buses for a second. The question we should be asking is which genius designed the “new” Crowfoot bus loop where the 43/37, 58/158, 299/199, and 137/143 all share stops.

    Why are they making buses share stops at a brand new station? It is not like there was any problem with space at this station.

    This bus loop is built so tight that if say both the 43 and 37 are in the loop, the guy driving the 137 or 143 can’t get around them. 58 and 158 are never supposed to be at the station together, but in reality the 2-3 days have shown that they are almost in their together all the time parked back to back in the same spot, blocking the 174 (Tuscany) bus almost every trip due to the disaster that is known as the “Crowchild-Stoney Trail” intersection. All it would take to kill rush hour for feeder buses at Crowfoot bus loop is for one of the buses to have a mechanical problem and die. Everyone else would be stuck. Not even the tow trucks they use for buses would have enough space to get around in that loop.

    There is also the traffic circle at Crowfoot Station that buses have to use each time they enter and leave the station. A few set of lights have worked better since 90% of the car population does not understand the sign with directions at the circle that say something to the effect of “Yield to vehicles in the circle on your left”. Then again do most of them even know what “Yield” really means?

    The bus-only gates leading in and out of Scenic Acres have been stuck open for the most of the three days that they have been in operation. Why couldn’t they just have one gate in the middle for shuttles (or in case a car gets stuck in a bus trap) and have bus traps on each side similar to how the Queensland/Lake Bonavista bus trap is setup?

    Did these out to lunch planners and schedulers not learn anything from Dalhousie or Brentwood?

  159. I’ve had a fantastic morning ride for ages, of course if I stay downtown past 4:05 I am unlikely to get home any faster then if I wald, what will the full busses not stopping for me. However with the new C-Train, they are removing my bus 112 an the next closest one 108 and the plan is to send us to Westbrook mall so we can take the over crowded C-Train. My 10-15 minute ride will become closer to 40 min with walk and transfers. What a great motivation to bundle up and ride my bike.

  160. Hi Bus Driver–

    I’ve only been through the Crowfoot Station area three or four times so far, and so I’m not yet perceiving it very clearly. But what you say about cramming things in is absolutely correct. I have always wondered, though, if this “cramming” has something to do with national road design standards. It could ultimately depend on ways of assessing the value (in the broadest sense) of urban space. In the case of Dalhousie Station it is evident how hard the planners and developers worked to maximize the commercial space in the entire area. It resulted in some really shoddy design situations, especially from the pedestrian’s point of view.

  161. Well it sounds to me like your a very smart person you have your own business and hopefully rich enough not to have to take transit any more now you become the problem. Instead of crying about how shitty the service is why dont you step back and look at why your rides late. First point which i assume will be you now is, one person vehicles driving out of the core during rush hour. The well to do complained so much that they took 9th st away from ctrains having priority of those lights. They now have to stop and allow a bunch of one person rides pass us by while they transport 700 or more people. second of all you think your doing the right think and being polite by holding our doors for a person running from the next block when in reality the train in the next block is waiting to service that station your holding up thousands of people for your stupid act of kindness. So as far as im cocerned you should be running Calgary Transit because you have too much time on your hands to complain over somthing that apparently could be ran better if you were there. Why dont you shut your mouth and step up to the plate and make a difference cause your little blog is doing nothing as you can see.

    1. Hi Bobby,

      It’s called “activism”. Everyone needs to do their part to educate everyone about the issues. No, I do not drive to work. (Actually, I don’t currently live in Calgary, but I am returning in December. And yes, returning to public transit. So this remains an issue dear to me.) My, and everyone else’s concerns, is that Calgary is far too car-centric for public transit to be truly effective. Want public transit to work? Make dedicated lanes. Restrict car movements at certain places to the benefit of buses. Allow buses to have the legal right of way (rather than having to wait for cars to let buses back into traffic).

      I will not shut my mouth. If you feel this blog is being ineffective, perhaps you should concentrate your efforts on opening your mouth to others and get them to speak out, too.

  162. Calgary’s C-train sucks compared to Vancouver’s skytrains. They run trains isolated from cars in Vancouver and peaktime headway can be as fast as 2 minutes between trains. Calgary’s system is a joke.

    1. Sadly, BJ, none of us would disagree with you. The C-Train should be able to run independently through downtown, but it’s at the mercy of vehicular traffic, which is utterly ridiculous considering the perceived importance of the system. Maybe soon someone will realize that the C-Train lines need to be submerged to be most effective.

  163. If anyone is curious, following the link immediately above (“A Transit Wasteland Built on LIes” takes you to some not particularly useful generalizations, none of then new.

  164. I completely agree with all you’ve said in this rant. I, like you, am a calgarian who has faced many of the same issues regarding Calgary transit. I am a student at SAIT taking the Journalism arts program. Currently I am writing an article for a class assignment and the topic I’ve chosen is public transit in Calgary. I find your views very interesting, and was wondering if you’d care to do an interview. If so, I would need to schedule you very soon, as my dealine is a week from today’s date of Feb. 1/2010. Either way, please contact me via email as soon as possible.

  165. Who was Tyler hoping to interview? I hope it wasn’t me…I check in here only every month or so.

    The drop-off in “rants” means….?

    1. Hey Clyde,

      Seemed to me Tyler would have been willing to talk to anyone. I tossed in my $2.00 ($0.02 just doesn’t cut it).

      As for “rants”, that’s a self-dig at myself, due to my penchant at ranting. That said, this post has lost a lot of traffic over the last few months. Presumably because the Google traffic on this post has dropped a lot, too.

  166. Hi Geoff and everyone else,
    I just recently finished working in the adminstrative office of Calgary Transit and I feel that working there provided me with unique incites that most of you may not be aware of and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding the inner working of transit in Calgary. I try to check this page about once a month so post your questions and I will do my best to answer any questions you have.

  167. Hi Patrick!

    Well, now that is an offer I just can’t pass up. So here’s a few to get you going…

    • When is CT putting GPS on the buses so we know *exactly* when they’re going to arrive?
    • Is CT going to upgrade the routing and schedules to reflect a city of 1,000,000+, and not a city of 250,000 (which seems to be the current MO).
    • Why is CT not routing the C-Train to the airport? This seems like an utter no-brainer. Pessimism points at the taxi lobby…
    • Why does CT have buses coming off-shift *during* rush hour, rather than having them bolster the routes that are continually packed?
    • Will CT be dropping the $3 parking fee at C-Train stations? This is a huge barrier to entry to using public transit, and is driving people to, well, drive.
    • Swipe passes for buses? Payment via cell phones? Some other form that doesn’t require buying paper tickets?
    • Will CT be getting back priority on the 301 route, as well as running C-Trains through downtown?
    • Is there any consideration for privatising CT and using a company such as First to handle operations more effectively? (I’m making a potentially naive blanket statement that governments do a lousy job of running a transportation company.)

    Hmm… that’s all I can think of for now. If I think of any others, I’ll add ’em. 🙂

  168. I’ll start with your first and sixth questions first. There is a project under way to do exactly what you’re asking about. It is called AVL (automated vehicle locators) this will provide in real time (or near it) locations of where all of the buses in the fleet are. This is being done in conjunction with the smart cards that are supposed to be coming in during 2011. I think this will change a lot about the transit in Calgary. I ride the bus almost every day and I find waiting outside when it’s cold not knowing when the bus is coming as frustrating as everyone else but relief is on the way.
    As far as your second question goes I guess I would say they are trying to but there are restrictions to how far and where they can expand and this revolves around their budget. Currently routes are built around demand. If there’s demand for a route one is put in place rather than building a route before the demand is there. This is of constant frustration for the planners of Transit as well. They would like to add to where the service is but are restricted by how many man hours they have to assign and where it can be assigned.
    I asked the manager of planning about your third question and what he told me was that they would have loved to build the C-train up the airport and to MRU as well but land restrictions kept them from being able to. Namely the CAA and MRU were unwilling to give up land for a transit line and station.
    Number four: I didn’t work in scheduling so I am only speculating but I would imagine it would have to do with how long the driver operating the bus has been working. Often times what I think you are seeing is either buses in transit between routes or waiting to be called into action. There are often buses that go on smaller routes (school bus routes or express routes) during rush hour then go back to regular service after.
    As far as the $3 fee I don’t see that going away at this point. The timing for the implementation was awful. During a recession is the wrong time to start charging for parking but city council made a directive that this had to be put in place by a certain date and it is here to stay. What I don’t think was widely publicized was that after the murder in 2007 at the Franklin Station the number of peace officers was tripled (before the parking fee was introduced) so they had to pay for that increased number of staff hence the $3.00 is here to stay.
    “Will CT be getting back priority on the 301 route, as well as running C-Trains through downtown?”
    I’m not really sure what you’re asking here but I do know that there are a number of BRT (bus rapid transit ie 301, 302, 305) routes that are in the planning stage. The future C-train plans are available on the Transit website
    I don’t think there are any plans to privatise Transit any time soon. I personally don’t think that transit could be profitable the way it is. For it to be profitable you would need to severely limit the service or jack the fees through the roof which I think would be political suicide for anyone suggesting it.
    When I started with Transit I can honestly say I didn’t think that their operation was very top notch either given the frustrations I mentioned above but after the time I spent there I realized that it isn’t that Calgary Transit sucks it’s that they are in a no win situation. They don’t have enough money to expand in the way they would like and if they did the cost per ticket would sky rocket which would leave them with no demand. They are also in a situation where their budget is cut to make up for the police and fire departments not wanting to budge on their budgets. Last year Transit had to make a 1.5% reduction in their workforce to make up for the budget short falls and this year I have heard it could be as high as 5%. While I would certainly never argue that expansion of the police and fire departments is a bad thing it has to come at the expense of other departments namely Transit because it has the highest number of employees and it is easier to cut workforce out of the budget then it is to cut needed capital expenditures. I hope that’s helped shed some light on the way CT operates.

  169. Hey Patrick!

    Thanks for the responses, man! We’ll assume for the moment that these are unofficial, and won’t put you on record for this.

    Really happy to hear about the AVL and swipe passes. Any idea how they plan to have the passes work? Is it a credit or debit system? Do you get a discounted rate for using one? Are these meant to replace tickets and passes entirely, or supplement?

    Here’s my problem with the “demand” issue. Who exactly is doing the demanding? Demand exists when there is an alternative, the alternative is simple, effective, and far better than driving yourself. Taxis aren’t an alternative, which leaves public transit. But the existing system doesn’t properly map out a city of our size and population. Look at Toronto or Montreal — those systems have much better effectiveness. Calgary is, in my opinion, still a driver’s city as a result.

    Diverting the West LRT to MRU wouldn’t have the impact the current line will have, at least from servicing a larger population, IMO. As for the airport, hasn’t anyone heard of a tunnel? With all the talk about burying Barlow, it would be only incrementally more expensive to add a C-Train line at the same time. The problem here is that NONE of the plans, even from the 1980s, address the airport in any way whatsoever. Instead, we’re left with vastly-overpriced taxis, or the awkward exchange with the #57.

    The $3 was a mistake from Day 1. Yes, I fully understand the reasoning for it, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. There’s a diminishing returns effect, here. If you make it too expensive to take transit ($8.50 for a round-trip including parking, assuming no pass or pre-purchased tickets), you only increase the argument to drive “for the convenience”. High parking rates or not downtown, any increase in price is enough to drive people away. Fewer people take transit, less income, less profits. (IMO, Calgary should introduce fines for driving into downtown, like London did back in the 1960s.)

    As for the priority, the C-Train used to have right-of-way downtown, from what I’m told, and now has to defer to traffic lights. This was done for the sake of drivers, and to the detriment of the trains running on schedule. As for the BRT routes, BusDriver (read way further up) tells how they were given devices to extend or shorten light signals to improve their passage (identified with blue lights at signals), though these have been supposedly disabled.

    And while we’re on the subject, is there any sign of Calgary giving right of way to buses? I’ve seen drivers trapped at stops, unable to merge back into traffic. In Vancouver, you either defer to the bus, or you get a stiff fine. Seems logical to me that buses get the same treatment here.

    I’m glad to hear that you’re seeing improvements internally at CT, Patrick. Sadly, CT isn’t exactly the most communicative group, and those of us who use the system aren’t seeing the improvements we think it should have. Maybe you can encourage them to make more of these things known? This includes, incidentally, the West LRT work. The City of Calgary is taking all the credit for this, and CT has been pretty mum by comparison. Blow the horn, man! CT might be a department of the City, but it has all the right to take ownership of the project in the public’s eyes. In my opinion, of course…

  170. Hi Patick, thanks for your response.

    It’s been awhile since I posted here. I wanted to touch on a few things that you and Geoff are discussing.

    Electronic Fareboxes are supposed to be in service by 2012. That’s what the Director has repeatedly told employees through communications. It is 2010 and we are still using paper transfers and our machines on platforms don’t give change.

    C-train signal priority is a no go …for now. When they have 4 car trains, they will have to have it because 4 cars will not fit in the intersections between 4th and 6th aves.

    1 St, 8 St, 7 St have all moved a block. City Hall and 3 st E. are closed until next year, yet traffic lights for c-trains remain the same. The lights being out of sequence cost trains about 3 – 4 extra minutes per trip either way on 7th Ave. The lights on 9 st going to and from the NW are usually out of whack too and cost a few more minutes. A source from Roads told me that the reason why they didn’t update the traffic lights is because it will cost a lot of money since they would have to redo all the traffic lights downtown and that’s not going to happen until we goto 4 cars. CT being CT has also not altered the schedules to reflect how long the trips actually take now.

  171. Thanks Patrick, Geoff, and BusDriver for interesting posts. I was going to respond to Patrick’s offer of information by suggesting he do a book with lots of anecdotes and suspenseful action…something Steven-Kingish, perhaps?

    But seriously, folks….

    Geoff, I think your most important point is that “CT isn’t exactly the most communicative group…” If they could fix that they could generate plenty of community support to give public transit a better shake in the political environment.

    But I have to continue to disagree with you about the parking fees (though I concede that the whole thing was miserably handled). The parking lots are a huge asset that could make money in alls sorts of ways; why should the owner of the asset (the public) give the asset away to a particular group? That said, since the lots are nowhere near full (at Dalhousie Station, anyway) they are probably overpriced.

  172. Hey Clyde,

    Well, here’s a different perspective. GO Transit runs trains in and out of Toronto. None of the lots, so far as I know, charge to park. They’re filled to capacity by 7:30am. People are encouraged to take the train partly because of the poor driving experience, and because there is NO barrier to entry beyond the ticket to ride.

    This is my fundamental issue with Calgary Transit. Yes, it’s an asset with potential profit. But that doesn’t mean it should be treated like that.

    Take it from a guy who has spent the last 15 years of his life watching and learning from the denizens of the internet — even the smallest fee drives people away. When Calgary Transit wants people to take the service, the first thing they should be doing is making sure there’s nothing to make people think otherwise.

    Lowering the fee might work, yes. But I think in “good faith”, CT should repeal it entirely for a few months, then start running some A/B testing to find out what price point they could get without causing a significant drop in ridership. I’ll lay cash that hasn’t been done.

  173. Hey BusDriver,

    (Welcome back! Haven’t seen you in a while!)

    Do you have any sense when the 4-car trains will start? I was at the SAIT/ACAD/Jubilee station on the weekend, and it seems to me that there are still a lot of stations that need extending before 4-car trains could start.

  174. Geoff,

    Interesting points, though I’d be reluctant in a general way to use Toronto as a point of reference. And I’m sure you’re right about fees driving (so to speak) at least some people off, but in this case those folks are doing at least two things here: (1) just getting ticked off because that’s the mood du jour in North America and (2) making what they believe is a rational “consumer” choice which might be not so wholly rational in som–and perhaps many–cases.

    As for an “A/B” test, that would tick people off, big time.

    There have to be better ways to improve communication with customers (and potential customers) and to see what works as long-term strategy to improve usage. CT is in the Dark Ages as in information environment, and very “Alberta” in being so. Fix that and other good things would follow.

  175. Geoff,

    SAIT will be interesting to see how they make a 4 car platform because there is a stairway on one end and the other end has a little building attached to it too. They will have to likely rip down the entire thing and redo it. Sunnyside has problems too with roads and ped-x crossings possiblty being needing altering to make it work. Ped’x crossings at Lion’s Park will have to be altered.

    Fish Creek is a former end of the line station. It is less then 10 years old. To extend this platform, they will have to rip out the crossover there and move it more north and then extend.

    39th is another interesting one to upgrade. 42 Ave tunnel on one side and 39th Ave intersection on the other side. There are big signal boxes that can be relocated, even with them gone, they would be making pretty tight against the tunnel on on one end and the intersection on the other.

    Center St is a platform only 10 years old. It also has to be upgraded. It will be interesting to see how they do that one too.

    As optimistic as one wants to be, there are way too many stations to get one. 3 to 4 years away for 4 car trains wouldn’t be out of question. They just started work on Whitehorn in the summer and it won’t be done for some time yet. Others that need to be done include: Marlborough,Zoo, Bridgeland, Rundle, Barlow, Lion’s Park, Banff Trail, Brentwood, University, VP Stampede, Erlton, Chinook, Anderson, Heritage, Southland.

    On top of all this platform work, they will have to also re-time the lights downtown. That is something that they didn’t do recently despite the fact that most stations downtown have been upgraded and/or moved a block. It used to take about 7 min to drive the train through downtown and make all the stops. It takes about 10 or 11 now and on top of that the lights on 9 St are out of synch 90% of the time.

    Signal Priority along 9 St will be needed for c-trains entering and leaving downtown

    1. Hey Bus Driver,

      Oooof. I knew the 4-car situation was complex, but that sounds downright nasty. I think SAIT is manageable with some reconfiguration of the south end of the station (rather than total demolition), but you’re definitely on the money about some of those other stations. Not pretty.

      Do you know, by chance, if the West LRT will be an “extension” of the Northeast line? If so, I could see that entire line being 4-car first, perhaps. But as you pointed out, that’s still a lot of work.

  176. Hi Geoff,

    Yes, the West LRT is going to be an extension of the NE line. They are building it all with 4 car platforms. Westbrook gets an underground station. Sunalta gets an above ground station. 10 St Station is going to close and move to 11 st. We will have a direct route Marlborough to Westbrook. The homeless bums who ride for free and puke on the trains will love it.

    There was a rumour that they’d make it run Somerset to Westside and have the other line changed to McKnight to Crowfoot, but nothing official as of yet. Seeing as 4 car trains are a bit aways, there would no benefit to doing that unless you want to keep the lines divided strictly upon North and South.

    I have some concerns about the Westbrook and Sunalta stations in relation to track/signal maintenance, and response time of emergency personnel and supervisory staff. I bet CT never even thought of those things. They are an organization which always reacts to problems only when pressed to do so. They do not believe in being proactive.

  177. Hey Bus Driver,

    I live almost equidistant from the 47th and Scirocco stations-to-be, so I get a fairly good view of the West LRT’s progress on a regular basis. I hadn’t heard of the north/south split, which — as you put — would seem pretty arbitrary.

    As for the future planning … well, that’s kinda what got this blog post going in the first place. It’s thanks to posters like you and Patrick that have uncovered some of the stuff that CT just doesn’t talk about. And that West LRT site doesn’t provide the insight it could/should.

  178. Hi everyone,
    First off it’s nice to see a discussion about ways to improve the ridership experience rather than just rag on the issues.
    From what I understand the smart cards discussed were going to be what is known as tap cards where you tap it when you get on and get to where you’re going. These would be linked to an account and automatically charged to whatever account you have set-up. There was still an on-going discussion about what exactly the final product would be but that seemed to be the most popular choice. They aren’t perfect but it would be better than the current system. As far as I know it would replace everything not a onetime fare payment (ie cash).
    The demand issue I was talking about was referring to demand for a specific route rather than demand for a bus vs cab vs driving. And for the airport issue I don’t know what the negotiations were specifically but with the on-going issues the city is having with trying to build an airport tunnel for cars I think anything solid going out there is a long way off.
    The buses do currently have priority lights at some stops. They use the same system as the fire, police and EMS (they obviously work differently). The BRT do definitely have priority light sequencing at most of the lights along their routes. If you are a light and see a blue light come on that is the priority light for a bus. I would love to see the by-law amended where cars have to yield to a bus pulling out but that is a political thing and beyond my scope.
    I agree Geoff that the biggest failing of Calgary Transit in my opinion is its communication with the general public. It’s not good at all but at the same time I think that effectively communicating with people as spread out as Calgary is is very difficult to do effectively.
    As for the four car trains, the downtown stations are the toughest to change over hence them being done first. Construction has started at Whitehorn to expand the station. As far as what I was told the rest of the stations should be easier to do and done in relatively short order (ie done on a long weekend or over a few selected weekends). Places like SAIT will probably be a challenge because of development on both sides. I’m not really sure what the time frame is for the completion of the retrofit.
    I just want to comment on the post by busdriver.
    “ There was a rumor that they’d make it run Somerset to Westside and have the other line changed to McKnight to Crowfoot, but nothing official as of yet. Seeing as 4 car trains are a bit away, there would no benefit to doing that unless you want to keep the lines divided strictly upon North and South.”
    This is actually part of the long term development plan laid out in the .pdf I posted earlier. The three line running to the south (west, south and southeast would all run under 8th ave. While the NW, NE and North central lines would all remain above ground running along 7th ave.
    Sorry if this was a little disjointed I was answering questions in my spare time and at several different times.

  179. HI Guys,

    I’ve noticed from the last couple of posts that everyone is talking about lack of communication. In this post, I will dedicate this post to discussing internal communications between the employer and employees and how much they value our opinions.

    Calgary Transit regularly posts “CT News Clips” which really is nothing more than a corporate propaganda publication. Each version usually has some feel good storey and almost always managtement-friendly people are applauded for things that most of us do day in and day out on the job.

    Calgary Transit does a very bad job of communicating with its own employees. There was a recent employee survey that went out a few weeks ago. It will be interesting to see the results. The last survey showcased Transit workers as the most dissatisfied workers out of the entire workforce of the City. Low ratings in each part of the survey.

    So many mornings, we go out on the road on a weekend and there’s 3 or 4 detours on a route or a detour on top of a detour and there’s nothing in writing or no bulletin provided to the driver. We come up to a dead end and look like amateurs and idiots when there’s a spot that you can’t get turned around at. Buses can’t pull u-turns. One of the first things that bus drivers do in the morning is ask on the radio if there are detours on our routes just so there are no suprises. Another beef with CT is how on some routes temporary stops just pop up or go away or how permanant stops disappear and nothing is ever communicated to the drivers. Then 3 weeks later you get a complaint brought out to you by some supervisor that you didn’t service the stop. How was I supposed to know there’s a stop there?

    Every 3 or 4 months, members of senior management come out with Tim Hortons coffee and information sheets to the driver lounges at the various garages. Sometimes there are barbeques and breakfasts (like Stampede time). It doesn’t matter. The result is always the same. Drivers are asked to give their concerns. Many of them actually goto great length to explain what frustrates them in day to day Transit life to the higher ups. In the end, the higher ups almost always ignore the problems or deny the problem exists or outright refuse to deal with it.

    I’ve driven bus, c-train, worked in an office job, and also worked in the call center with Calgary Transit years ago. Myself and a driver with 30 years of service approached one of the lead schedulers to ask how come we can’t eliminate 3 way and 4 way splits and have only straight shifts or 2 ways for everyone. Along with that request, we asked how come we have 14 hour spreads and 12 hour spreads. Meaning how come if you start your workday at 5:30 am, how come you have to still be at work 5:29 pm (although there is a long break in the middle the day)? We did research on how they arrange work. We provided a way in which they could reduce the spread time to around 9 or 10 hours and have more straight shifts and still cover all the routes they need to provide service to in an efficient manner. What ended up happening is that person from the schedules department told us that this will never happen because Calgary Transit has a system that has worked since the company started and they would like to keep going with that system. So in other words Calgary Transit is actually still stuck in the 1970s and is very much against CHANGE.

    The way they do schedules now, some buses go out of the garage and might only do 3 partial routes. As an example, you leave Spring Gardens (Deerfoot and 32nd ) drive out of service to a high school in Acadia (Beaverbrook) and take those kids to Midnapore. Then out of service and head to Chinook. Drive Route 23 from Chinook to Saddletown Circle. The last part of the run, go out of service from Saddletown Circle to downtown do a partial route 3 from NB 4 ST SW to Sandstone. After that headback to Spring Gardens. That is just half a day of work. During that piece of work, you probably spend more than half the time driving out of service instead of in service. What a waste.

    They talk about change machines, smart cards and getting rid of paper transfers for proof of fare. For a lot of us, we will belive it when we see it.

    BTW – for anyone interested, the first of the Nova buses to be used in service will be in service Oct 4 (Monday) on select routes out of Spring Gardens.

  180. Transit Signal Priority is installed all along Center Street. Many of the Buses equipped with TSP fail to correctly transmit. many of the recievers are faulty (Center and McKnight) for example. It really doesn’t make much of a difference. Probably 2 extra lights where you have to wait.

    On 305 and 302 routes it is probably more of a difference. The lights at Ogden and Millican have TSP, but TSP doesn’t work there.

    Again, problems with TSP and the buses themselves not transmitting properly have been reported for years by drivers. CT chooses to do nothing about it.

    1. Hey BusDriver,

      Sadly, I haven’t a clue. Something exploded/imploded and all the comments closed. Danged if I know why. (I was wondering why I wasn’t getting much traffic…) Finally realised what had happened (shows you how much I actually ready my own blog…) and fixed it.

      As always, my apologies for the oversight. I’ll keep a closer eye from now on.

  181. Hi Geoff,

    I had a feeling that maybe CT got to you. You know, forced you to shut the blog down. They have been monitoring all kinds of sites critical of them lately. They even started up a twitter page to counter anti-CT talk and perception as well as to try and give out announcements on delays and detours. It seems like it is run by the same guy who writes the internal city propaganda called “CT News Clips”.

    A bus driver as recently fired for going on a private Facebook group and saying some remarks about some supervisors that he didn’t like. Someone else in the group forwarded the remarks to management personnel who didn’t waste time in starting the discipline process and ended up dismissing him.

    Calgary Transit has become a police state. It seems like just because they have a new contract with the union (which runs out yet again in about a year), they can discipline whoever they like. It is to the point where it is easier to name people they haven’t called for disciplinary hearings then people they have suspended, written up, or dismissed. Morale amongst bus, ctrain drivers, maintenance personnel, and even mechanics as a whole is very low. Lots of drivers are on stress leave or thinking about going on it. Grievances against CT are at an all time high. They have imposed an unofficial hiring freeze since last year. They hire shuttle bus drivers to move up to bus driving one class at a time. Whenever things turn around, they will have a hard time attracting people to even apply. Especially after how they mis-treated the drivers they brought over from not only Toronto, but also the ones from England. “The Brits” as they are known were lead to believe that whom they would get permanant residency but then reneged on that promise. Alberta’s heartless minister of labour (don’t know the official title) said NO. Those poor souls are now working for Winnipeg Transit all 18 of them.

    1. I suspect that if it came to that, there’d likely be legal action or some such nonsense. And before that finally took effect, there’d be a number of posts here (and heavily rotated through my extensive social networks) about how CT would rather not discuss the options before them, but simply squash criticism.

      That’s too bad about the drivers. There certainly seems to be a lot of nonsense floating about. Maybe the new council will see fit to investigate that as they have the nonsense with Enmax? One can only hope…

  182. Hi Geoff,

    The issues at CT are not the same as Enmax. At Enmax they have top executives getting millions of dollars in bonuses and base pay which they can’t justify. They were also partying it up on taxpayers dime.

    With Calgary Transit there are 3 main issues. Firstly, they are very adverse to change. They refuse to leave the 1980s or 1970s. The evidence is how they still use paper transfers for proof of payment and how they refuse to change many internal processes because “this is how its always been done”.

    Secondly, CT likes to float itself as a separate entity from the City. They barely get half of their revenue from fares. The other half comes from property taxes. They are setup as a NOT-FOR-Profit Organization. Their processes for simple things like assigning buses to drivers or setting up a telephone number that is updated so that the public can get real time information on schedules are totally flawed in their design and even more in execution. There is no accountability what so ever to anyone. They just jacked bus fare prices to $90 a month starting in January. Their justification for the hike was service expansion. What they didn’t tell the public is that all that expansion has been cut along with 140 Transit Operator positons which they will not fill. There will not be layoffs thanks to our pro-transit Mayor Nenshi but those positions not being filled means they are going back to the days of regularly relying on overtime to fill work. What that means is to the public for runs that don’t have a regular driver, you might get your bus one day and another they are out of manpower well you are s.o.l. Especially bad on days when lots of people call sick around the same time (in cold weather).

    The third issue with CT, which I find is probably the biggest is sheer incompetence of management as a whole. We can cite many examples. Simple one would be the route 19. There’s 20 min between 19 and 119 all day until 6pm when the 119 stops running. Effectively they are the same route except for 32nd Ave to Sunridge and the loop back to Vista Heights. 19 or 119 by itself each has 40 min between buses. The timing of the route is the same for 5 am, 8 am, 11 am, 3 pm, 5 pm, and 12:30 am. Most of the time points have 8 minutes between them. When 16 Ave was being ripped apart, they made no schedule adjustments. 16 Ave even now has heavy traffic in rush hour. Effectively, the route runs from Sunridge Mall to Vista heights, thru Renfrew, on 16 Ave, to Lion’s Park, back on 16 to University and then the whole thing repeat. Often 3 or 4 buses will be in excess of 20 min late, thus killing the schedule. This is a problem since at least the early 1990s (if anyone rememebers 16 ave between Center and Edmonton Tr used to be a major choke point for traffic). There has been no schedule adjustment. 3 buses sometimes run together in rush hour and then after that its more than an hour til the next 19 or 119. Customers have been complaining for decades. Drivers regularly report on radio how late they are but the person answering the radio on the other end tells them to just “carry on”. The same thing happens on Routes 23, and especially Route 20 (due to Crowchild). They help the late night buses get back on time by having out of service buses who were supposed to goto the garage, stick around and do a trip or 2 on overtime. The original driver and everyone else late also does overtime. Why not make a correct schedule for post-1990s Calgary Traffic and take into account higher passenger loads during specific times of day?

    Whenever they design a new bus loop or buy new equipment, they never consult the drivers. Crowfoot bus loop along with the one at McKnight are too tight. Crowfoot was such a fiasco they that to reconfigure which bus stopped at which stop because buses couldn’t go around each other in the loop. The Arboc shuttle buses have major blindspots, and the kneeling feature had to be removed because it gave drivers major discomfort. The new Nova buses have no power to go up hills. Naturally, they are deployed on the hillier routes in the NW. The new Ctrains about to come into service have a number of flaws too. They have cameras instead of mirrors. Sounds cool except, when the driver doesn’t see someone running over the trucks from the side of the train. The Articulated Flyer buses have been a disaster in the snow. These are all things that they could ask either drivers or maintenance people about for input. There’s a lot of experience at CT amongst the workers that management never utilizes.

    Continuing on the issue of incompetence of management at CT, lets look back to Nov 23, 2010. A bus was originally dead on the outbound tracks near the 14 St NW crossing for LRT. The bus had lost air pressure for its own brakes below 60 PSI, when that happens the parking brakes lock on. Outbound trains were stopped. Inbound trains could still make it. The City has an execulsive towing deal with CITY WIDE Towing. They couldn’t send a tow truck. After a few hours and the bus eventually blocking both sets of tracks (how did that happen?), some brainiac in management decided to use another bus to push the bus that was dead, except forgot to check if it had a bike rack on the front.

    On top of these problems, they are treating their employees like trash. Discipline should be used to correct behaviour at work and not to turn the work area into a police state, which is what CT has done.

  183. There were power line problems on the south line this morning and for much of the day.

    Something like this is strictly damage control and in the hands of management as to whether they shut a line down, use shuttle buses, make announcements, or have other plans.

    Whenever there is an emergency such as a power problem, accident, signal problem, a gate crossing problem, switching problem, or even a security situation causing a delay the response is either non-existant or there is poor coordination of an emergency plan. It would not be wrong to say that management is incompetent and inconsisent with their responses to emergencies. Today was no different.

    Today’s problem was a power problem. All that kind of work is farmed out to Enmax.

  184. Wow- having read this blog I am seeing Calgary Transit drivers in a new light. Its simply unfair to expected anyone to work a twelve hour day made up of split shifts. If my boss wants me to be available for 12 hours a day I get paid for 12 hours. Sometimes we will have “downtime” in the middle of the day but we still get paid. Never has anyone been asked to go home then come back later. Why do you guys put up with this???

  185. one of my friend [email protected] CT, he said that’s part of the Union Contract so they can’t do much unless you been with that company for MANY years(also because the nature of the job too as in AM rush hour bus and PM rush hour bus), and as well their really old scheduling system/management style.

    i think CT need alot of updates fast, like the OLD OLD buses, the paper transfers…. etc
    i don’t take transit that often, but every time i’m on it,honestly i see no less than 5 fare evaders with their lame excuses and the bus driver doesn’t seem to care and just let them ride most the time, i am sure CT’s 15% revenue goes to those people, i usually take the 73 for 1 hour to go to work if i don’t have my car that day,so 1hr = 5 x $2.75, on 1 bus, that’s alot of money there if count all the buses and C-train over a 24hour period. ouch to CT. they should make a better system for that, i know is courteous public service, but to see fare evaders everytime i use the service means there’s little problem. yet i haven’t got the face/guts to ask for free ride. *sadface*
    also is nice to have bus driver as friend for updated closesure,detours,break down, etc, because CT doesn’t do too well informing riders about them!

    1. Gah, sounds like the gap between union and management continues to widen. And four hours just seems utterly unreasonable, even if just to address safety concerns. Oy.

  186. I am currently doing some research into Calgary Transit.

    Firstly, I want to address the fair issue. $2.75 is a bucket load of money every time a citizen enters the bus. It is the citizens of Calgary’s environmental responsibility to promote public transit and car pooling. I know we are talking about over-consuming Alberta (Let’s mine through our landfills inefficiently after we have thrown all our recyclables in it – Alberta), but something’s gotta give. More of our tax dollars should be spent supporting lower fares and the employment of bus drivers. Incentives should be given for punctuality and the scheduling department (as I was told directly from an anonymous Calgary Transit bus driver) should not be reinforced to cut scheduled bus times. This brings me to my next point: buses that are supposed to run every 7 minutes SHOULD run every 7 minutes. We should not have our citizens waiting in rain and snow for half an hour at these peek bus times, risking contracting colds or being fired from work because of unpunctuality. Sure money should be spent on expanding the public transit scope as our city expands, but it should also be spent making sure the system we already have functions efficiently.

    Remember, this is a problem in which not only Calgary Transit as a service system should take accountability for. Bus drivers should still be taking pride in the punctuality on their jobs. Citizens should be standing up for the service they are entitled to . Everyone should be advocating public transit as a necessary means of transportation and that cannot happen until some glitches in the system are ironed straight. It will take more than one voice, and I know the people of Calgary are educated enough to realize public transportation is the future of inner-city/city travel.

  187. Hi Christina,

    The problem is not the punctuality of bus drivers. Most (99%) are highly punctual when showing up for work. Within 30 seconds of a no show at a garage, the standby driver goes out and the guy who didn’t make it on time has what is known as a “late report” and he will have other work for the day. They have to do that because of the way the buses on the lane are arranged. One usually can’t leave if the guy in front hasn’t reported for work.

    On the road, the guy who doesn’t show gets a late report (along with lost pay) and different work. The unfortunate soul driving the bus on the road with no relief has to carry on at least usually for another trip or whenever they can find someone else. He does get double-time for a missed relief, but at the end of a long day, most of us just want to go home.

    Talking about being running off schedule, 90% of it is due to poor amateur schedule making. A lot of routes have well known traffic patterns and passenger loads (at certain times of day) that Calgary Transit refuses to recognize. Their way of doing things is to have the same timing for a trip 3:30am, 7am, 11am, 1pm, 4:30pm, and 10pm. Obviously at 7 to 9 am everyone is racing to get to work so more time is needed to get to whatever station the bus is going to. The reverse is true around 3 to 5pm. In the middle of the day, they don’t need as much time to do a trip. What happens in reality is during rush hour, they cut trip times, so you are always racing and behind. They expect drivers to cut short cuts to make times. If you get caught doing that, you are looking at disciplinary action. Sometimes even doing that its impossible on some routes like the 301 for example due to passenger load and traffic. Off peak, buses sit 5-10 minutes at each time point. Fundamentally that is what is wrong with Calgary Transit’s schedules. They never consult drivers either.

    I have advocated to senior schedulers at CT about running separate schedules in winter time, especially on hilly routes with permanent detours setup (Routes 77, 101,104, 76,174,299,6, 7, 199 come to mind). No more suggestions from me as I’ve been laughed at every opportunity. “can’t be done” is one thing I keep hearing from them.

    What this city needs now more than ever is a Bus Riders union. Other cities have it and it does help in getting better service.

  188. nothing going to change the “late buses” during rush hours unless .. there are”bus only” lanes, i am pretty sure it will get more riders too.
    calgary have way to many cars for it’s poor street layouts.
    should be like, have 1 lane open for buses only @ 6ave and 5ave and 9ave.
    but then people will still use it anyway like @ crowchild Tr bus only lanes, sad calgary drivers.

  189. Calgary is a fucking joke. , Parade Day delays at Stampede were brutal. Last week on Saturday after the fireworks, an accident. 2 hours to go home.

    This week: multiple overhead power problems Monday to Wednesday. 1 and a half hours to get from Somerset to Downtown each of these days. 3 days to figure out a problem? really?

    Continuing this week’s shame: Thursday: accident right at 4:30pm. Of course, good old CT had no shuttle buses for anyone going NW until 5:30 pm. Thousands gathered at 8 st and 7 Ave West waiting for shuttle buses that never showed until the accident cleared.

    Seriously, someone’s ass should be getting fired for GROSS INCOMPETENCE. How do senior management at CT keep their jobs and actually get bonuses for providing shitty service year after year?

  190. I have a small something to add to the slow conversation that is going on here…

    I live in Valley Ridge, and for the last two years I went to SAIT, which I’m sure you know has a CTrain Terminal at it, so naturally (as I’m required to pay $110 per semester for a stupid pass) I attempted to use transit one day. I didn’t know much about it other than I had taken the 408 from Valley Ridge to Bowness High School when i was there, and it seemed okay. At that time, the closest NW C-Train station was Dalhousie, and the 408 went to brentwood, not a big deal as it’s only about 3-5 minutes away.

    When I looked up the (what I thought logically would be updated) route for the 408 to the new crowfoot station, I was amused to find out that CT had decided to keep the 408 running to brentwood, instead of crowfoot (which is much, much, much closer)

    So, breaking down my average day of taking calgary transit to school with a class at 8:00 am looked like this:

    Get on 408 @ 6:00, arrive at brentwood @ 7:15, on train @ 7:25, arrive at SAIT @ 7:55, rush to class.

    Now I am graduated from SAIT and going to MRU in the fall, I’m not even going to attempt to work that out, CT should just grab me by my ankles and shake my $115 per semester out of my pockets.

    Anyways, to my main point, does it make any sense at all, that the 408 (Valley Ridge) bus goes to brentwood instead of crowfoot? The tuscany, and scenic acres, rocky ridge all go to crowfoot, why would we be any different? It’s extremely inconvenient

  191. Hi Jordan,

    The 408 goes to Brentwood. It never went to Dalhousie. As a bus operator, I found it to be one of the best routes to drive (except in the snow).

    It seems a bit silly the way the route has to go into Canada Olympic Park TWO times PER TRIP regardless of anyone wanting to go there or not. The Route goes from Brentwood down 32nd Ave to Market Mall, turning left around at around 49 st. Then it goes down the hill on Home Road, intersecting Bowness Road and then turning right onto 16 Ave westbound. It then exits to Sarcee Tr towards Bowness and you end up at Bowness and 77th. A left turn at 83 St, thru Bowfort Road and into COP. Then westbound 16th to Valley Ridge, there’s two time points there. At each one, the operator has to back up the bus as their is no proper turn around. This is despite the fact that it has been over 6 years since they converted the route from community shuttle bus to conventional bus. After servicing both sides of Valley Ridge, the bus then does a loop in Crestmont. Afterwards back to COP and the rest of the routing is the same in reverse back to Brentwood. 45 minutes is one complete trip.

    Most times the bus has to kill excess time at 2 timepoints in Valley Ridge, 1 timepoint in Crestmont, and twice in COP, and occasionally even kill time at Bowness Rd and 77th.

    45 minutes to and from Brentwood from Valley Ridge is too much time. A 20-30 min round trip could be easily designed to Crowfoot and I am sure an even faster route could be designed going to the new Tuscany LRT station.

    The problem is not the people driving the buses. The problem is the people who design these routes who have never had the chance to ride these routes or drive a bus in service on them. Another problem is lack of people calling to complain to 403-262-1000 to officially complain. A more effective way would be to get in touch with your Alderman (City Councillor?) or you could tweet Nenshi.

  192. Hi, thanks for your response

    Im sorry if it seemed like I was blaming the bus drivers that wasnt what I meant. I was placing blame with the planners and I have placed an official complaint with the city.

    I agree with the 20 minute trip to crowfoot and although the 408 is a good route as it works for COP, market mall, u of c and so on it DOES NOT work for the ctrain, which should be the primary concern.

  193. Jordan,

    Calling your Alderman (Councillor) will be more effective, but only if more of your neighbors also make similar calls.

    BTW – for anyone wondering, the C-train Driver who was caught doing a crossword puzzle while driving C-train and subsequently fired, has now gotten his job back and is now driving buses for Calgary Transit. Calgary Sun would love this story.

  194. I don’t even bother taking Calgary Transit due to waiting time, even though I have been try to convince a bus route to be changed so that it travels towards city centre and not further out in the suburbs.

    Level of rudeness of Transit Operators varies from those who don’t even look at your bus pass to those who simply yell at passengers to jam to the back of the bus so that they can pack more people in during rush hour.

  195. Bus drivers know that eventhough checking fares is part of their duties, they are not to do it to the point of confrontation. Also, CT doesn’t back drivers who fight with passengers for fare.

    There is also a rule about not being in front of yellow line to obstruct the driver’s view of mirrors. There is a ponying where the bus gets too full I safely take anyone else on board. If you let people up to the windshield and get cut off by a small car a short distance later and have to slam the brakes, somebody will go through the windshield. Often times the driver is just doing his job and asking people to move back. People either ignore tr driver or don’t want to get close to others on bus. The driver doesn’t want to leave anyone behind but if no one moves then that is what is going to happen. It’s all about safety. The bus driver is 100% responsible for the personal safety of people riding the bus.

  196. Agree with so many points!!!
    I’m not a lengthy speaker; my blog simply has snippets of CT issues but I’m certain CT reads it.
    I’m going to track back to this post – even a few years old, it’s still perfectly true!

  197. Thanks, David!

    Thankfully, CT has improved somewhat since I first wrote this, but there are still some larger problems that need to be solved. Hopefully my comments engine doesn’t break AGAIN, and we’ll get some feedback from folks like BusDriver.

  198. It hasn’t been released to media yet, but union and City have reached a new contract dating back to Jan 2, 2012, a 2 year deal with 3% in each year and c-train operators to be making 10% more than bus operators effective sept 2012. Not all detail was released even to workers by the union. 62% for the agreement but most did not know the details and only half of membership showed up to vote. Working conditions were not touched by this agreement except for 60 hour operators who are losing their right to bid on weekly work. A sore point amongst many drivers is that although we will all make more money, nothing was done to improve our working conditions by the union. Both the union bosses and the city have kept this deal and its passing air tight hush hush.

  199. The 199 has gone downhill in quality. The Arbour Lakers hog it, and it no longer has enough time. Before Crowfoot, it was constantly early. Now, it’s constantly late. The train connections don’t help. If a driver isn’t a douche and decides to wait after the departure time, it screws him up completely.

  200. We are getting the C train GREAT!!!! and HORRIBLE!!

    I live in the Strathcona area and have asked for the last number of years at every C-train public meeting; How come it take 12 minutes to drive from Strathcona to Westhills and it takes 3 buses and 1.5 hours for my child to get to work at Earls in Westhills from my house. No answers and I have ask Alderman Pootmans for an answer and nothing. Plus I have forwarded the same letter since i got no answer to Mayor Neshi and never heard from his office either.  Who is running the transit system; the union or the elected officials? They sure are not listening to the Ward. This is a city up here and we cannot get around in the area much less off the hill

    At this point my daughter wants to meet friend at the Westhills Cinema’s in the evening: Mom has to drive. She can get to Chinook Cinemas faster. Yet Calgary Transit wants to run’s 5 buses through the Richmond Hill and yet they cannot get my daughter to the Westhills in 1/2 hour.


Now we are faced with the Brilliance of the Transit;  we were thinly served up here and many times you would wait for a bus that did not show for at least once a trip  and now they have taken all the buses that leave the hill such as the 104 and 101 and (sorry don’t know all the ones that run through Richmond HIll) and are running everything  to the c train. The C train should be a supplement not a replacement for what was barely covering Transit service before.  If you live in Strathcona,  Coach Hill  or any of the neighbourhoods up in the Westhills. please get a hold of Alderman’s Pootmans says he has not heard from anyone.  Or send an email to the Mayors office and the Alderman’s office 

  201. You have to take the time to learn the new routes in your area. Communities like Arbour Lake, Shawnessy, Tuscany have all been through this before with c-train extensions near them and the loss of their community’s express buses. They didn’t spend one billion+ dollars to keep all those buses rolling on the 108,101, 104, 301 West, etc. The C-train was meant as a replacement to those routes. The new route 94 will actually go from Strathcona past West Hills movie theatre (Richmond Road and Stewart Green SW). I am not sure of the timings but it just started a week ago from today. They are supposed to review all routes after a few months and maybe change some of them.

  202. Here’s the thing, Lori: If you didn’t want your bus to stop going downtown, then you shouldn’t have gotten the CTrain. If you wanted your connections to Westhills, MRU, etc. to be better, then that’s what you got. The CTrain can be great during bad weather, as it bypasses accidents on the road, and just traffic in general. Unfortunately, there are too little communities in your area that didn’t have direct downtown bus service, so the only way for the train to collect revenue was to have all those outerlying communities to get feeder bus service.

  203. Actually, now that I think about it, I’m the only one here who has to ride CT’s school buses. You’re all complaining about buses not showing up. But guess what? Having to ride 1 bus when there are supposed to be 2, and then having to deal with drivers that wait till they drive our bus to express their rage from their prevous runs? You never have to deal with that. Also, the teachers just yell at you when you walk in late, because of the bus showing up literally an hour and a half late, or the driver is so stupid that they dont listen to you when they make a wrong turn. If the driver hears someone talking loudly, they pull over the bus, and start screaming at you.
    The driver then tells our principal, who then CALMLY tells us to stop. He doesnt yell.

  204. I actively pick work that does not involve taking any type of school kids to or from school. Its a zoo after school and in the morning it can be like that too. I drive buses. I shouldn’t have to deal with babysitting someone else’s kids. The yellow school bus drivers might be used to kids yelling and talking loudly all through the trip. I find it distracting and annoying and will pull over until they quiet down. As far as a bus being missing (2 instead of 1), that’s up to the school to take care of. A lot of times is crappy scheduling. 1 bus will come off a run from other side of town in heavy traffic and be delayed starting the school run meanwhile the other bus is on time because it just came in service from closeby garage. Not really the driver’s fault.

  205. True, true. But one driver actually complemented my group for being so quiet, and all the other drivers are just plain rude. One driver doing the second afternoon run from my school back in September actually blocked the doorway. if you didn’t show him a pass, he wouldn’t let you on. Also, and this made literally everyone take the other bus, he told us that the garbage bin at the front of ther bus was for transfers only, nothing else. So, being pretty pissed off about that, I stood up for everyone, and asked him “If we aren’t allowed to put garbage in there, then why is there garbage in the bin?” He then piled on the brakes, turned around at me, and started yelling about how I was over the yellow line(which I wasn’t), yelled at me about the bin being for transfers only, then yelled at me “Do you understand?!” I said I didn’t at which point he kicked me off, and told me I wasn’t allowed back on transit, period. An e-mail to proved another looking into it situation.

  206. Still sucks and this post was posted 8 years ago! Last two buses of the night never came to my stop as posted in the schedule! Now im stuck in a garage till morning.

  207. Those buses probably left really early. There have been a couple times where I’ve tried catching the last bus from Crowfoot, and the driver simply took off over 10 minutes early! Thanks, your 10 minutes of gained sleep cost me nearly an hour of mine!

  208. Has anyone tried taking the south train home during rush hour (Deemed 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.)

    You’re lucky if you can actually get ON the train…doesn’t matter which stop, you’ll be hard pressed to get on. NE trains come by and just before they leave downtown they are still pretty much half full. South train, good luck. You’re better off taking the train all the way to the west end of downtown, switching over to a south train and hope you can fit in. The NW and West trains are the same as the NE trains….you can at least get on the fricken train. I’ve waited for almost 30 min before I could actually get into a train during winter time…not fun.

    Transit says they run a ratio of 1.4 to 1 for south vs north trains (equates roughly into a 3-2 ratio) and I have yet to see this even remotely consistent. IN fact, most of the time its the other way around…I see more back to back NE trains then I do anything else….

  209. Did you know that Calgary made plans to build actual subways like New York’s, but since they built it during a recession, they stuck with light rail?

  210. want to be a world class city? try hiring and training drivers who can drive and understand english.
    poor driving training,lack of people skills and no knowledge of the city. dont ever ask for help to get anywhere. shameful and witnessed personally dangerous situations but always go for the least common denominator. i’ve driven tour bus many years and it makes me sick.

  211. I’m getting extremely tired of how crappy Transit has been in Calgary, especially lately! The trains aren’t so bad, its more so the buses. Just today I called to see when the bus would come and it said 4:39, I called again a little later to be sure and this time it said 4:46. I got there and to my surprise no bus! It was 4:40, I called a third time and it said bus comes in 30 mins. Make up your Damn mind! Stick to a freaking schedule and actually show up on time!! I’ve almost been late to work numerous times thanks to the bus not showing up or being late!
    I’m also appalled by the service some of these bus drivers are giving. My friend just recently had leg surgery done and has a cast. We decided to go to Chinook and watch a movie. She has to walk with crutches so when we got to the train station we thought we’d take the Chinook shuttle bus. The bus pulls up and its a bit to high for my friend who has a cast covering the majority of her leg, so we ask the driver to lower the ramp. He literally just stares at her says nothing and doesn’t lower the ramp. I ask him again nothing. So my friend tried her best to get on, tripping in the process. Luckily she caught herself on the rail and an old man and myself helped her get her footing. We finally get to Chinook and again I ask the guy to lower the ramp and he stares at her again and says no. What the actual Fuck! This pissed me off so much! If she hadn’t caught herself when she tripped she could have seriously injured her leg, most likely resulting in more surgery. I expect way more from bus drivers. Majority of the ones I’ve had have been very accommodating and kind, this guy was a complete asshole! So when transit says they have accommodations for people who need it and then that happens, it makes me think they don’t give a shit.
    Something needs to be done to make Calgary transit better. Too many people rely on it for it to let us down this often! They need to get their shit together, and also stop raising the prices, its ridiculous that I have to pay $3.15 for a ticket!

  212. Chandra, it may be helpful to have pocket schedules for your common routes on hand, because the “real time” information has yet to have its bugs fixed. As well, I’m willing to bet hat driver didn’t even know how to operate the ramp. These are just two of many problems that plagues this city’s transit. Management does a terrible job of relating to the public, the drivers and the system overall. The people in management have never been out driving or riding the service; they blindly make service decisions based on “count cards” that are done four times a year that can be falsified to fit a driver’s wants. If a driver likes a particular run but fears it might get cut due to low ridership, all they have to do is right some numbers on the paper given out and management will be none the wiser. You also can’t forget about the whole connect card debacle. Did you know they gave every driver an hour’s pay to sit in on a meeting on how to use the system? They also say they’re going to sue to get their $5 million back. Guess who’s gonna foot the bill for the city’s legal fees?

  213. nothing has fn changed, just getting home from volunteering at globalfest. the fn assholes decide to detour the 45 but no signs no nothing to inform the customer, do you think they might inform someone at globalfest so they can tell the thousands of volunteers who rely on that bus, that kind of thought process is way beyond them. what a waste of 2 hours to finally get home. # 1 the bus does not need to be rerouted, if it’s for g.f. and you stupid fn assholes who were to stupid or to lazy to inform people of your dumb change BLOW ME you must feel guilty when you get your paycheque cause your so fn useless

  214. Transit is better with the new app but about half the time the app malfunctions weirdly . Also this is to get it out there .its just been eating me out. Irrelevant to this article . I was having a heart to heart conversation with a friend of mine and the bus came and i didnt stop talking . Apparently that was considered rude and a guy came and yelled at me. Im putting this out there . Im sorry for not considering ettiquette and that really ruined my week and i havent taken that bus ever since . Sometimes calgary transit isnt shitty , its just the people on it that make it shitty and sorry to say im guilty for it

  215. The worst is when bus drivers leave ahead of their scheduled time of departure. Specially when they see the train pull in and they drive off leaving the riders high and dry to wait for the next bus. I have reported the matter several times but Calgary transit does not seem to care.

  216. It’s 2015 now…. It’s gotten worse, not better. I’m sitting in a cab as I type because 3 buses in a row on my route just never came. It’s absolutely insane

  217. Its actually quite hilarious. Its been almost 10 years since this page was opened up and not a thing has changed.

  218. Oct 2016 and Nothing has changed. Bus service has gotten worse. Trains still packed like sardines along with regular major mechanical problems. There really is no accountability for those who run CT. If this was a private company, all top managers would have been fired long ago.

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