It has been quite a ride for some of those affected by the construction of the Southwest Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), so the project’s impending completion comes as good news for more than just riders.
The project – one of four additions to Calgary’s transit system – includes new BRT stations throughout the route and the addition of bus-only travel lanes on 14 Street S.W. between Southland Drive and 75 Avenue S.W.
“The impetus for the entire MAX BRT initiative was to create a network of rapid transit buses throughout the city,” said Michael Cox, a spokesperson with the City of Calgary’s transportation department. “It’s about building infrastructure and providing fast, reliable service to people using transit to access major destinations.”
For southwest residents who have long been faced with construction issues and lane closures due to the BRT project, the worst appears to be over.
“The majority of the work now is between 75th Avenue and 90th Avenue S.W.,” said Cox. “There are some lane closures happening outside of rush hour, but throughout the southwest people will see a number of projects wrapping up around the end of the month.”
“It has been a long grind, but there has been a noticeable increase in foot traffic and sales recently. It’s great to see traffic flowing more smoothly and the pedestrian bridge in operation over 14th Street.” – Rob Smith, J. Webb Wine Merchant general manager
The other three MAX BRT routes have been running well since their launches, with a 7.4 per cent increase in ridership, which should bode well for the new southwest route. It will offer a direct connection from Woodbine to downtown and create a comfortable environment for riders, with stations offering enclosed glass shelters, heating and ample lighting.
Apart from the impact on residents, construction has also affected Glenmore Landing businesses to varying degrees.
“We started to see fallout from the project about two years ago as things ramped up,” said Rob Smith, general manager of J. Webb Wine Merchant. “The lane closures and access issues led to a decline in traffic and sales, as certain regular customers stopped coming in. I live in the community, so I would see many of them at school events, and they said it took too long to get into the centre.”
Smith estimates the sales hit added up to about 40 per cent over the last two years. Unsurprisingly, he’s relieved to see that things are turning around.
“It has been a long grind, but there has been a noticeable increase in foot traffic and sales recently,” said Smith. “It’s great to see traffic flowing more smoothly and the pedestrian bridge in operation over 14th Street.”
From the City’s perspective, the negative effects did not go unnoticed.
“We want to thank residents and businesses for their patience,” said Cox. “The new service launches Dec. 23, so the end is in sight.”