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Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Network

Project update - July 2016

At the April 20, 2016 Standing Policy Committee on Transportation and Transit (SPC on T&T), a number questions were asked by Calgarians about the Southwest Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project. The City developed detailed responses to the 62 questions asked in a document called Southwest BRT Response to Public Questions that was presented at the July 20, 2016, SPC on T&T.

Along with the answers to the 62 questions, The City provided the Transportation Report to SPC on T&T – 2016 July 20. Attachment 2 of the Report, the Southwest BRT Response to Public Questions, has been separated into its own PDF due to file size.

Please note: If you are unable to open the PDF on your Android phone, please download the PDF before opening, or try viewing it from a desktop.

Along with the answers to the 62 questions, and report to the SPC on T&T, The City presented this overview video to show the proposed changes to the SW BRT route, proposed station design, and destinations serviced by the SW BRT.


The City of Calgary is preparing to add four new projects to its primary transit network.

The new projects include:

Calgary’s BRT network is an important part of The City’s overall transportation plan and, along with the Southwest Calgary Ring Road, the Green Line and other major transportation projects, will provide Calgarians with the travel options they need to move through and around the city quickly and efficiently.

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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.

The 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. 

All BRT projects are different. Some BRT projects, for example, require dedicated bus lanes to run efficiently and reliably, while others operate well in mixed traffic. Similarly, some BRT projects are built into the heart of under-serviced communities so that Calgarians can walk or take a feeder bus to a station, while other projects focus more on providing connections to LRT stations and other 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. Decisions about route alignments, station locations, station size, and parking facilities, are all dependent on a number of criteria, including:

  • Existing demand for a service
  • Future/forecasted demand for a service
  • Passenger origins and destinations
  • Pedestrian accessibility
  • Options for traveling to and from BRT stations
  • Station capacity

Network history

The BRT Program is the result of many years of planning and public engagement, beginning in 2007 with ImagineCalgary.

  • The four new BRT projects were first identified on the Primary Transit Network in the Calgary Transportation Plan (CTP), which was approved by Council in 2009.
  • Preliminary functional studies were completed on both 17 Avenue SE BRT and Southwest BRT projects in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
  • The projects were then included in RouteAhead (approved in 2012), and Investing in Mobility (approved in 2014).
  • The projects received funding in September 2015 through the Province of Alberta’s GreenTRIP program, and preliminary design on all four projects began shortly thereafter.

(Click for larger view)


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 BRT 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.

Next steps

Visit to provide your feedback through our online engagement tool, which will be open until April 10, 2016.

Each of the four new BRT projects has its own design process and timelines. Please visit the respective project web pages for more information.

Building Calgary's Transit Network

How we got here

BRT and Transit projects

Calgary's BRT network

The map above shows future transit capital projects, as identified in RouteAhead (2012).