Calgary Transit: The Good & The Ugly

I couldn’t help but smile when surfing my Twitter feed and saw that @calgaryhester had organized a birthday party on Calgary’s LRT for her son Alec. What a great idea!

What kid doesn’t like a train? Add to that you get to go over a bridge, into a tunnel, check out an underground station, see all the tall buildings in the “tall city” (as my now 20-year old nephew liked to call downtown when he was very young). 

And, what a great way to introduce children at a young age that using transit can be fun. Research shows that habits (good and bad) developed when you are young  tend to stay with you when you get older.  But if all kids know is getting in the car and being driven everywhere (daycare, school, play dates and other activities) what is the likelihood they will become transit users later in life?

This brave mom took seven kids on the bus from Ramsay to get to the Erlton Station to 69th Street and back in -20 degree weather.  One of the biggest highlights was when the train entered the tunnel under the new downtown Library. One child even asked, if there was going to be a glass floor in the new library so you could see the trains - a future architect no doubt!

Another highlight was meeting the train driver at the 69th Street Station and learning he had to walk to the other end of the train to drive the train back downtown. They sat in the front car so they could look through the window and see the driver and track ahead.

Yes, there were a few curious looks from passengers and there were even two conversations with strangers (one younger one older) about their most memorable birthday party experiences.  @calgaryhester told me, “there was a wonderful sense of “togetherness” with fellow passengers that day while they rode transit. 

That’s the good part!

Maybe Calgary Transit should have a birthday party car on each leg of the LRT during the day on the weekend and promote it to Calgarians to use for kids birthdays. I bet it would bring smiles to thousands of Calgarians every weekend – young and old.

The UGLY!

A few days later, while waiting in line at 7 pm to purchase tickets for a High Performance Rodeo performance, I overheard a young woman telling her male friend about her horrendous experience getting to Arts Commons by transit. 

She was trapped in a train car with several thugs who were intimidating everyone with their very loud talking about being arrested and beaten up by the cops and dropping the “Fbomb” between every second word.  This is not the first time I have heard of this kind of horrible experience when riding the train, and I have personally experienced a couple of times and I don’t use transit much. 

I wish we could just stand-up to these bullies and say “STOP THAT…your language and behaviour is unacceptable.” But that could be a death wish! 

Survey Says...

A 2015 Centre City Citizen Perception Survey conducted by the City of Calgary found that indeed, starting at 5 pm Calgarians begin to feel more unsafe waiting at C-Train stations.  Before 5 pm, 57% felt very safe and 34% reasonably safe; but after 5 pm, it dropped to 24% very safe and 41% reasonably safe and by 10 pm (exactly when people are leaving downtown from theatres and restaurants), only 7% felt very safe with 24% reasonably safe… A whopping 69% feel unsafe!

Calgary Transit needs a more proactive safety program, not a reactive one that responds to issues when an emergency button is pushed – that is too late. 

If the City is going to spend several billions of dollars on more LRT service in the future, they must spend thousands to make both current and future service safer. Why not have a security guard on every train from 5 pm to the end of night who could move from car to car at each stop to make sure everyone is safe.

And that’s, the ugly part!

If you like this blog, you might like: 

Everyday Tourist: Transit Tales!

7th Avenue Transit Corridor: Better But Not Great!