Changes to Calgary Transit routes on MRU campus sparks discussion
By Riggs Zyrille Vergara & Nathan Woolridge, Photo Editor & News Editor
In November, Calgary Transit released its 2019 Transit Service Review, which proposed changes to routes inside MRU’s campus, sparking some discussion surrounding the challenges new bus routes will create for students and individuals traveling to campus.
The stakeholder report explains what Calgary Transit did in November 2019 in regard to route changes and addressing concerns.
In the review, Calgary Transit mentions two concerns students had provided feedback on involving changes to the 18 and 20 routes:
“A large number of comments were received regarding the proposed discontinuation of Route 18 and its potential impacts for students traveling to/from Mount Royal University. Some were concerned about how to make the trip to the campus (especially from downtown), while others noted the additional walking distance required from Richard Road SW over the current routing via Mount Royal Circle SW (East Gate)” (P. 50).
“Similar to comments received regarding Route 18, a notable theme was also concerned about the impacts of removing Route 20 from Mount Royal Circle and operate instead on Richard Road SW, specifically with the impacts to walking distance to the campus buildings” (P. 51).
Gabriela Aguilar, a broadcast media studies student says the changes to routes and having stops outside of campus will add extra time to her commute, which she says she didn’t need.
“I have to take a bus, a train and then another bus — it’s an hour and 35 minutes of commute,” Aguilar says. “We already don’t have a train station… we’re already inconvenienced in every single way.”
Ryan Power, an MRU student, created a petition called Keep Bus Service on Mount Royal Campus. Power says the changes affect so many students, faculty and community members who heavily rely on transit.
“I wanted to spread awareness about a change here at the school that seems that administration is not giving a lot of light to. I believe it’s very important because MRU believes that the accessibility of students is one of their top priorities, but honestly it doesn’t feel that way,” Power says.
Transit estimates “walking distances will remain short (less than five minutes) to the campus main building,” in their report, adding the new routes helps the transit system overall.
“We’ve heard a lot of negative and a lot of positive [feedback]. It just depends… for a majority of people, these routes will make their commute better, quicker and more direct,” says Amanda Bradley, a Transit Relations Specialist. “The MAX Yellow has a lot fewer stops. It’s a lot more comfortable for people. So, we have had both positive and negative feedback.”
But, the feedback from students has been overwhelmingly adverse, with concerns about added walking times and, in some cases, increases in commuting time to the university.
“Someone has said that they do have a mobility issue and it’s in one of their legs and it affects their ability to walk. They rely on the bus system to get to and from school each and every day,” Power says. “They’re saying how it’s going to have this huge impact on them both financially and on an academic level because no longer are they going to be worrying about their final exams… They’re going to be worrying about how to get to school.”
Anthropology student Rowan Farell shares Power’s sentiment of hearing concerns for individuals with disabilities.
“This is actually gonna screw a lot of people over. Anyone with disabilities who comes to this school will now have to walk 100 extra metres — or not walk because they’re disabled and can’t walk. It’s really screwing people. It’s not there to help anyone,” says Farrell.
In the report, Calgary Transit states, “Through conversations with Mount Royal University administration, it was indicated they had a desire to phase out bus service on Mount Royal Circle in their campus master plan.”
“I really wished that Calgary Transit would actually listen to the people who take transit versus people that make the decisions,” says Farrell about the decision to remove the buses within Mount Royal Circle.
In an email statement from the Vice-President of Finance and Administration, Annalise Van Ham, she acknowledges many “students, faculty, staff and community members count on Calgary Transit bus service to get to and from campus.”
Van Ham says, the changes mean routes will stop at raised, heated platforms along Richard Road.
“Mount Royal University supports these changes as they reduce growing congestion on Mount Royal Circle and help us evolve toward a more pedestrian-friendly campus as envisioned in the University’s Campus Master Plan. The West Gate bus circle remains unchanged,” she says.
Bradley says Calgary Transit will continue listening to people’s concerns and feedback surrounding the changes.
“We know that route changes of this magnitude are very challenging for people… We’re here to help you as much as we can and we will be tracking everything to make sure that the routes are doing what they’re supposed to do … We can make adjustments to the frequency and span throughout the year just to make sure that it’s working the way it should,” Bradley says.
Van Ham adds MRU will continue working with the “City of Calgary to maintain and enhance transit options.”
Changes to bussing will come into effect on Dec. 23. Buses will still enter the bus loop located at West Gate, but will not be entering campus by East Gate. For more information visit engage.calgary.ca/RouteReview