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SOUTHWEST BUS RAPID TRANSIT (BRT) UPDATE

April 12, 2017 12:38 PM | Anonymous
In April members of the RKHCA Development Committee, as well as representatives from our neighbouring communities of Killarney/Glengarry, Rutland Park/Currie Barracks and South Calgary/Altadore/Garrison Woods and from the Marda Loop Business Improvement Association (BIA) met with representatives from Calgary Transit to receive an update on the Southwest BRT, and provide feedback thereon.  If you participated in the City’s online public engagement process for the Southwest BRT back in February/March you may have noticed some of the same things that gave us cause for concern, including:


1.  Although the route map still showed a red “station” dot at the Crowchild Trail and 33 Avenue SW interchange (the “33 Avenue Stations”), that dot was now labelled as the Currie Barracks station, instead of as the Marda Loop station, and there was no longer a red “station” dot in Currie Barracks; and 

2.  Despite the fact that the website indicated that construction of the portion of the route north of Glenmore Trail would begin this year, there was still no information to be found regarding various key issues relating to the 33 Avenue Stations, including:

  • exactly where the NB and SB stations would be located, and what they would look like;
  • what changes, if any, would be made to the Crowchild Trail and 33 Avenue SW interchange to make it safer and more comfortable for Southwest BRT users to walk and cycle across;
  • whether secure bike parking would be available at the 33 Avenue Stations; and
  • exactly where the new Quesnay Woods Drive coming north out of Currie Barracks would intersect with 33 Avenue SW, and what type of intersection it would be.

We feel that well designed and conveniently located BRT stations at the Crowchild Trail and 33 Avenue SW interchange are key to supporting the higher-density and mixed-use development that is planned for the Marda Loop business district — we want all those Marda Loop area residents and employees to have convenient access to high-quality transit so that they don’t all feel the need to drive cars to and from home and work in Marda Loop.  We also feel that convenient access to high-quality transit in Currie Barracks is critically important to minimize the traffic impact of the thousands of people that will soon live and work in that new high-density mixed use community.  So what were we to take from the disappearance of the red “station” dot in Currie Barracks and the renaming of the red “station” dot at Crowchild Trail and 33 Avenue SW — was the City looking to save money by locating a single pair of BRT stations part way between Marda Loop and Currie Barracks, instead of giving each activity centre its own pair of stations?  If so, then neither activity centre would end up with convenient access to high-quality transit, with the result that most residents and workers in both areas would end up driving, making area traffic and parking congestion even worse.

The updated information presented at the meeting included the following:

1.  The current plan is to have the Southwest BRT up and running by the end of 2018;

2.  There are still plans for Currie Barracks to have its own BRT stations at Quesnay Woods Drive and Flanders Avenue, and for Quesnay Woods Drive to be extended north to intersect with 33 Avenue SW, but given the current economic conditions those portions of the Southwest BRT route will be deferred until sufficient development has been constructed and occupied in Currie Barracks to warrant it;

3.  Until such time as Currie Barracks comes “on line” and the Quesnay Woods Drive extension has been built, the Southwest BRT buses will bypass that area and instead use the new Flanders interchange to travel between the 33 Avenue Stations and the Mount Royal University stations;

4.  The NB 33 Avenue Station will:

  • be located part way down the ramp from 33 Avenue SW onto NB Crowchild Trail, adjacent to the “bulb” at the end of 32 Avenue SW (see image below -- the NB station is neither circled nor labelled, so you will have to look closely to see it);
  • be located on the Crowchild Trail side of the sound wall and accessed through a gap in the sound wall located part way between the station and 33 Avenue SW;
  • have a partially open/partially sheltered design (see image below), and include one or more bike racks; and
  • be constructed in early 2018;

5.  The SB 33 Avenue Station will:

  • be located on WB 33 Avenue SW, 1/2 block or so west of the Crowchild Trail interchange (see image below -- the SB station is circled in red and labelled "Future Station");
  • have the same partially open/partially sheltered design, and include one or more bike racks; and
  • not be constructed until Currie Barracks comes “on line” and the Quesnay Woods Drive extension has been built, so until that time SB BRT buses will use the existing bus stop at the top of the ramp from SB Crowchild Trail to 33 Avenue SW (circled in green and labelled "Temporary Station" in the image below);

6.  No changes are currently contemplated to make the Crowchild Trail and 33 Avenue SW interchange safer and more comfortable for pedestrians or cyclists to cross; and

7.  In terms of parking restrictions on the streets adjacent to the 33 Avenue Stations the plan is to “wait and see” to what extent complaints are received from the residents in those areas once the Southwest BRT is up and running. 

Our feedback to Calgary Transit included stressing the importance of both Marda Loop and Currie Barracks having convenient access to high-quality transit and expressing concern that the proposed locations of the 33 Avenue Stations (particularly the SB station, which will be in the middle of nowhere and require BRT users to cross two dangerous right slip lanes to get to or from the Marda Loop business district) and the lack of any plan to make the Crowchild Trail and 33 Avenue SW interchange safer and more comfortable for people to walk and cycle across, will make it less likely for Marda Loop residents and workers to use it, leading to more cars and congestion on our streets.  We asked Jeff Speck, the author of the bestselling book “Walkable City:  How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time” about incorporating BRT stations into a freeway interchange adjacent to a Main Street and he recommended that the stations be located very close to the Main Street, so that the walk to it was excellent and not exposed to the freeway — we are concerned that the current plan will not achieve those key objectives.

Unless you never leave your house, this issue will affect your day-to-day life as this area continues to densify, so we encourage you to become engaged and make your thoughts on this issue known to Calgary Transit, to the current Ward 8 and Ward 11 Councillors, and to all candidates for Councillor in the new Ward 8 (with its adjusted boundaries) in the upcoming 2017 municipal election.


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