By Devin Aggarwal, February 15 2018 —
The City of Calgary is getting a much-needed upgrade to its transit network for rest of the winter. Following the success of a recent pilot program, city council decided Monday to replace many of the bus and LRT routes currently in place by several dog sled teams.
The teams, which will consist of 10 dogs per sled, will slowly be incorporated into service, starting with highest-demand routes first.
“The goal is to convert all 1,176 transit vehicles every winter into dog sled versions by 2020,” transit director Doug Morgan said. “To ease everyone into the change and save costs, we’re going to start with the routes that commonly experience delays — so, most of them.”
Officials claim that the pilot project has reduced trip times by 23 per cent and boosted ridership by 30 per cent.
“One of our main policies is that you can’t pet the dogs unless you’ve paid for a ticket. We suspect that many people will just take transit for the cute dogs,” Morgan said. “We’re building that into our business model — the Green Line won’t pay for itself.”
The plan still has a long way to go before it’s fully implemented, scheduled for November 2018. Many animal rights groups are questioning the ethics of using animals to power public transport, branding it as “Victorian-age bourgeois bullshit” and raising concerns about care for the dogs.
“I’m worried that the city will treat its dogs like it treats its current transit system,” said Jennifer Harlick, spokesperson for PETA Calgary. “Kept in overcrowded conditions, rarely cleaned and under-funded.”
Further questions have been raised about who will scoop the pooches’ poop during their time on duty. Council, however, has not been very forthcoming.
“We are aware of the problem and do not have a solution at this time,” councillor Diana Nelson said. “But rest assured, we will address the problem as soon as we can, which in council-speak is at least five years.”
This article is part of our humour section.