By Jason Herring October 3, 2017 —
Some neighbourhoods in Calgary are tough to access due to gaps in public transportation infrastructure. The city has been attempting to better service these areas, with the Green Line LRT and expansion of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network aiming to connect those who don’t live near Calgary’s existing CTrain routes.
One addition is the Southwest BRT, a route that will span 22 kilometres from the community of Woodbine to the downtown core, making stops at places like Mount Royal University, Rockyview Hospital and Marda Loop along the way. All these locations are underserved by Calgary Transit and MRU is the only post-secondary institution that isn’t on a CTrain route.
Construction of the Southwest BRT route began months ago, with workers constructing a bus-only lane on 14 Street. Now, mayoral candidate Bill Smith wants to put a hold on the project.
“If elected, I will put a stop to the Southwest Bus Rapid Transit project in its current form and we will re-evaluate it,” Smith said at a news conference last week.
Smith was backed at the conference by members of Ready to Engage, an anti-Southwest BRT advocacy group. It’s alarming to see Smith support the group and its divisive rhetoric. They have stood steadfast behind the interests of the communities’ most affluent and change-averse citizens while disregarding those in need of expanded transit infrastructure. This is one of four new BRT routes planned for the city. It’s only this one, which passes through many of Calgary’s wealthiest communities, that garners such strong opposition.
Expanding transit infrastructure enables low-income Calgarians to live in parts of the city that would otherwise be inaccessible to them. It reduces long commute times which take the biggest toll on those who can’t afford to own a vehicle. Also, the Southwest BRT would decrease congestion on city roads, as each driver that uses the BRT takes a car off the road. The number of lanes on 14 Street will remain the same for non-transit traffic after construction is finished
Opposition to the BRT is a classist and reactionary response to change. Seeing it from a mayoral frontrunner is disheartening.