Rejoice, MRU transit riders!
Calgary’s new west LRT line to open Dec. 10
It’s taken almost a decade, but at last it has arrived.
The west leg of Calgary’s light-rail transit (LRT) system, in the works since 2003, will be opening Dec. 10, changing the transit landscape of western Calgary.
“If you live in the northeast, this is a big deal,” said Mike Reed, Mount Royal University’s associate vice-president of business and retail services.
“Students, faculty and staff who live in the northeast have to put up with a long, complicated trip to Mount Royal. Now, you get on a train in the northeast, you pop out at Westbrook, and you’re a 10-minute connector ride away from the university.”
While Mount Royal was passed over for an LRT stop, Reed said that a new bus rapid transit (BRT) route was the next best thing.
The new route 306 — Westbrook/Heritage — will travel between the new Westbrook stop on the west LRT line and the Heritage station on the south LRT line.
“The city made a promise to us that we would have a direct connection to the new LRT,” Reed said. “For those who take transit a lot, they say that connecting from a bus to a bus is always a risk… so we wanted to minimize those bus-to-bus transfers.”
The new BRT route — which will feature the high-capacity articulated “accordion” buses seen on other major BRT routes — will have minimal stops between MRU and the two LRT stations, to make it as convenient as possible for commuters.
“We don’t want to hear anymore that students are being left behind because their buses were full, and they had to wait 20 minutes for the next bus,” Reed said. “With these changes, we are going to be very well connected to the transit system.”
Calgary Transit spokesperson Ron Collins said the city worked closely with MRU to create a system that was “more efficient for both students and our drivers.”
Collins added that the new transit hub outside MRU’s West Gate would allow Calgary Transit to increase the frequency of buses to the university, in addition to facilitating the new 306 BRT route.
“This transit hub is really a major improvement in Mount Royal’s transportation infrastructure,” Collins said, adding that the hub will feature new lighting, landscaping, and, eventually, heated bus shelters.
While Collins could not comment on the possibility of the bus shelters being ready for the grand opening, he said they would be completed when weather allowed.
Reed explained that MRU’s Campus Transit Strategy, developed in 2006, was designed to promote alternative means of reaching the school.
“From a sustainability perspective, from a mobility perspective, from a cost perspective, it makes more sense that more efficient and environmentally friendly forms of transportation are used,” Reed said. “Buses, bikes, walking, carpools: anything is better than a single occupancy vehicle coming to campus.”
Reed said that as the university expands, the only choice will be to tear up more of the parking lots for new facilities.
“The Roderick Mah Centre used to be entirely parking lot; now it’s home to continuing education. The parking lot beside it will become the new conservatory building over the next few years. Across the road, off the end of EA, is our largest parking lot on campus. One day that will be our new library.”
While Reed mentioned that there is always space open in the new parkade located next to the Roderick Mah Centre, he hopes that students and faculty will instead turn to transit.
“If you want to bring your car to campus, we will find a way to fit you in, but our goal is, at the end of the day, to get more people coming to campus in sustainable, environmentally friendly ways.”