Southwest Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project
Questions about the BRT program
At the April 20, 2016 Standing Policy Committee on Transportation and Transit, a number questions were asked by Calgarians about the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) program. The City is working on detailed responses to the questions, and will provide answers to all of the questions at the July 20, 2016 meeting.
We know not all Calgarians could make it to the April 20 meeting, or were unable to watch the meeting online, so all of the questions asked at the meeting can be found here.
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The Southwest BRT project is one of four additions to The City’s primary transit network. The four new projects will fill important gaps in the existing transit network, and provide Calgarians with fast, reliable connections to major destinations.
The City of Calgary’s BRT network includes many different types of BRT service and infrastructure. The City adapts BRT projects to suit the needs of the communities and customers it serves.
The Southwest BRT project includes new BRT stations along the length of the route, and construction of new bus-only travel lanes on 14 Street W between Southland Drive and 75 Avenue S.W. Buses will run in mixed traffic along the rest of the route, except on portions of Glenmore Trail and Crowchild Trail, where buses will be able to use the shoulder lanes to bypass traffic in rush hour.
The new Southwest BRT project will run from Downtown Calgary to Woodbine, and will provide direct connections to major destinations that are currently underserviced by transit, such as Southland Leisure Centre, Glenmore Landing, Heritage Park, Rockyview Hospital, Mount Royal University, Lincoln Park, Currie Barracks, and Marda Loop.
The Southwest BRT project is a better service for current transit passengers and is a necessary, long-term transportation solution for the city.
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About the project
Please note: Clicking on each question below will expand the box to reveal the answer.
The Southwest BRT project (along with the three other new BRT projects) was first identified on the Primary Transit Network in the Calgary Transportation Plan (CTP), which was approved by Council in 2009. A preliminary functional study for the project was completed in 2010. The project was then included in RouteAhead (approved in 2013), and Investing in Mobility (approved in 2014). All four projects received funding in September 2015 through the Province of Alberta’s GreenTRIP program, and preliminary design on all four projects began shortly thereafter.
Since 2010, public engagement on the SW BRT project, in addition to the engagement conducted as part of RouteAhead (2012) and other long-term planning programs, has included:
- Major Stakeholder Meetings – 25 Meetings
- Community Association Meetings – 15 Meetings
- Ward 11 & 13 President Meetings – 2 Meetings
- Public Information Sessions – 10 Sessions
- Pop-up Information Sessions – 6 Sessions
The City is working closely with utility companies including ATCO Gas and ATCO Pipelines to gather information about underground utilities and identify how to best coordinate road construction with utility work. All utility work and road work will be done in an efficient, coordinated and safe manner.
The SW BRT Project requires two new bus-only lanes on 14 Street S.W. to allow buses to bypass traffic and ensure BRT service reliability. 14 Street will continue to operate with the same number of regular traffic lanes. To accomplish this without having to acquire private property, the grass and concrete boulevards in the centre and on either side of the road will be narrowed or removed to make space for the new lanes.
The traffic lanes on 14 Street S.W. will be also narrowed by just under 8 inches, or 0.2 metres. The existing lanes are 3.7 metres wide, and will be 3.5 metres after the transit-only lanes are constructed. 3.5 metre lanes are found on many major roadways in Calgary, are safe for motorists, and are well within Transportation Association of Canada standards. The Southwest Transitway team also works closely with emergency services and the City of Calgary Roads department to ensure lane widths and roadway designs are safe and functional for all users.
A transit-only underpass at the intersection of 90 Ave S.W. will minimize traffic disruptions at this intersection.
There are no plans to change the speed limit on 14 Street S.W. Posted speeds will remain at 70 km/hour.
At the flyover from 14 Street to Glenmore Trail S.W., buses will merge into regular traffic, just as route 306 and route 20 do today.
In some sections of Glenmore Trail, buses will have the ability to use shoulder lanes to bypass traffic during peak hours. This will operate similar to the existing bus-only lanes on Crowchild Trail. Buses will run with existing traffic during other times of the day when traffic is lighter.
Ridership is driven first by population and jobs, and second by other factors, like the cost of parking, and the relative travel time by transit versus other means of travel, like driving.
The City monitors ridership on existing routes several times a year as part of performance monitoring to identify what changes to make to be more efficient, meet customer needs, address growth, and other factors.
The SW BRT Project will service existing transit users and is built to service the many more transit users to come. Significant growth is expected in southwest Calgary, including 19,700 new jobs across the quadrant, 4,000 more students attending Mount Royal University, and 36,000 living and working at Currie Barracks.
Without a reliable transit option, this growth will be equivalent to one or two additional lanes of traffic in rush hour along the corridor, leading to more congestion, increased travel times, and longer duration of rush hour periods. Similarly, without a viable transit option in place, roadway infrastructure would need to be expanded in the future to accommodate the growth. These infrastructure expansions would likely have a greater impact to adjacent communities than the SW BRT project does.
Existing bus routes in the area are being reviewed and may be adjusted once the SW BRT service opens to ensure the best coverage and connections for Calgarians. Transit customers who currently use a bus route to access LRT stations or other bus stops will still be able to access those important connection points.
BRT stations along the SW BRT project are shown in the map below.
The capital budget approved by City council in 2014 allocated $78M to the BRT Program, which includes the South Crosstown, North Crosstown, 17 Avenue S.E., and Southwest BRT projects. In the fall of 2015 the Government of Alberta approved the City of Calgary’s application for $130M in GreenTRIP funding for the BRT Program, bringing the total approved BRT Program funding to $208M.
Infrastructure programs and projects follow the City of Calgary Project Management Framework, which uses the following five stage process for estimating and establishing Program and project budgets:
Class 5 – Order of Magnitude—Generally prepared based on very limited information. They’re often based on judgment and/or experience.
- Expected accuracy range is -50% to +100%
Class 4 – Conceptual Design—Generally prepared based on conceptual or feasibility studies considering project options and known constraints.
- Expected accuracy range is -40% to +75%
Class 3 – Preliminary Design—Generally prepared based on preliminary design information. Project assumptions and constraints have been defined.
- Expected accuracy range is -30% to +50%
Class 2 – Detailed Design—Generally prepared on detailed design information. Project constraints have been resolved and detailed design is advanced.
- Expected accuracy range is -15% to +20%
Class 1 – Final Design/Pre-Tender—Generally prepared based on the final design information. At this stage the design is complete.
- Expected accuracy range is -10% to +10%
The $208M Program budget was established based on project estimates at the Order of Magnitude and Conceptual Design stage. The Conceptual Design was based on having basic bus stops with limited features, similar to a standard bus shelter on a concrete pad. In the years since the conceptual design was produced, we’ve heard from Calgarians, through engagement as part of RouteAhead in 2012, that they’d like to see a higher level of service, with better features for an improved customer experience. This will have an impact on the cost of individual projects.
The City is currently in the design phase for all four of the new BRT projects. As design progresses, we know that the costs of some projects will decrease and others will increase. The City is in the process of balancing the costs of each project to deliver the entire BRT Program within the approved budget of $208M.
An update on the budget for the BRT program will be presented to the Transit and Transportation Committee of City Council on April 20, 2016.
There are no plans to include Park and Rides with any of the four new BRT projects. The projects are intended to serve local communities and will primarily be accessed from within the community via feeder buses, walking and cycling.
Project teams will work with communities to implement residential parking restrictions if that is of interest to residents. There are different options for permitted parking in communities, including two-hour restrictions, residential parking permits, and others. Learn more about The City’s Residential Parking Permit Program.
The presence of a transit facility, such as a bus station, can certainly make a piece of land more attractive to potential developers. Transit oriented development is driven by interested developers rather than The City. All development projects must follow The City’s development permit process, which requires public engagement.
The aim of the Southwest BRT is to serve developments that already exist or are already under construction, such as Glenmore Landing, Rockyview Hospital, Currie Barracks, Lincoln Park, and Mount Royal University.
The specific construction staging plans haven’t been developed yet, as the project is still in the design phase. Once the design is complete, The City will work with the selected contractor to determine the best construction staging plan to keep Calgarians moving throughout construction. Construction staging details will be shared with the public when they are ready. Watch the web page for details.
The SW BRT alignment falls within an existing transportation corridor where previous geotechnical and environmental studies would have been completed with the development of both 14th Street and the Glenmore Causeway. Most recently, work was completed that involved widening 14 Street between 90 Avenue and Heritage Drive S.W., which included environmental components.
As the SWBRT project has yet to finalize design, any necessary environmental assessment and management activities would be undertaken as design and construction activities advance.
Environmental Site Assessments are not required by the Province as we are not acquiring any new property for the project, but we will undertake a Biophysical Impact Assessment and a historical environmental review as part of the design process for the project.
As we move into construction, we will also be preparing tree protection plans, erosion and sediment control plans, and an Environmental Construction Operations (ECO) plan.
In accordance with The City’s Surface Transportation Noise Policy, a noise analysis is currently underway along the SW BRT corridor.
Please visit Calgary.ca for more information on The City’s Surface Transportation Noise Policy.
What is a BRT?
The City of Calgary is working to create and improve transportation options for Calgarians. One of those options is the new BRT network.
Bus Rapid Transit (or BRT) is a fast, reliable bus service. Cities around the world have adopted BRT services, and view them as an integral part of their overall transit and transportation plans.
BRT routes have fewer stops than a regular bus route, which means they can cover more ground, more quickly.
Four new BRT projects will fill important gaps in the existing transit network, and provide more direct connections to major destinations. Direct connections are important, as we know that Calgarians are 50 per cent less likely to use transit if they have to make a transfer to a second (or third) bus or train.
Not all BRT projects require dedicated bus lanes. In lower traffic volume areas, BRT services can run quickly and reliably in mixed traffic. In higher volume traffic areas, BRTs are faster and more reliable if they run in their own, dedicated lanes.
Calgary’s BRT network
The City of Calgary currently operates five BRT routes, including routes 300, 301, 302, 305 and 306. The four new BRT projects complement the existing network of BRT and LRT routes, and are designed with connections to the future Green Line LRT in mind.
The map below shows future transit capital projects, as identified in RouteAhead (2012).
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