Calgarians may have to wait longer for the bus, find a different route on weekends, or put pressure on passengers during rush hour if the city council approves proposed service reductions to 27 transit routes.
On Tuesday, the second day of budget deliberation, the public got a first glimpse of the impact on bus routes if City Council approves a 46,800 hour reduction in Calgary Transit operating hours, which affects an estimated 56,000 drivers per week.
The cuts are proposed to save $ 6.8 million on Calgary Transit. This is part of a tough city budget for 2018 that includes cuts across all city departments to bridge an operational deficit of $ 146 million.
Transit director Doug Morgan said the proposed cuts are aimed at saving the most money while harming customers as little as possible as transit faces declining passenger numbers and revenues in a weak economy.
Photo by Lyle Aspinall /.Lyle Aspinall / Calgary Sun.
“We searched the range of different reductions we could make,” he said.
“We have seen a decrease in the number of people traveling downtown to work from across the city, and that’s where you see a lot of those reductions.”
The proposed cuts to the 27 bus routes will affect drivers in different ways, depending on the route. These include doubling the waiting times, changing the midday frequency by five minutes and reducing the weekend and night service on some routes.
The affected routes are: 2, 7, 10, 15, 24, 25, 27, 28, 31, 34, 78, 83, 86, 89, 93, 105, 113, 114, 120, 134, 146, 174, 199 300, 420, 453 and 456.
At Tuesday’s meeting, several city councilors had questions for the transit chief about specific routes.
“Are these cuts doing our best to encourage people to get on the bus and train?” asked Ward 6 Couns. Jeff Davison.
“People are already frustrated and they say, ‘I’m not going to take transit, I’ll just go downtown because it’s much faster.’ ”
Ward 3 Coun. Jyoti Gondek said her community is adopting a large portion of the proposed transit cuts and she expressed concern about what the changes will mean for all users.
Photo by Adrian Shellard /.Postmedia
“I know there are many people who work shifts, or there are households that survive when two or three people on the workforce have a staggered schedule, and when we’ve just shaped the lives of those people in precarious employment positions more difficult, that’s my business, ”said Gondek.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi said transit drivers are resilient and the proposed cuts, which he believes will be approved by the council, are aimed at “low impact matters”.
“Every time someone’s bus route changes, it will somehow hurt people,” said Nenshi.
“When I was a daily transit commuter, I took a bus that only ran once an hour in the evening, and that just meant I had to plan my day to make sure I could catch that bus. And every now and then you miss which is a big pain. “
The council is expected to vote on the proposed changes to transit, along with a $ 14.3 million request from the Calgary Police Department and other budgetary aspects in the coming days, once the interrogation of bureaucrats from various departments is completed.
The proposed 2018 budget includes a zero percent tax hike and the shedding of 156 full-time positions, with front-line services spared where possible.
Much of the conversation at Tuesday’s budget meeting focused on transportation. The council also heard from employees of the Roads Department and the Calgary Parking Authority.
The council heard a request from the parks authority to adjust the authority’s budget to reallocate $ 2 million. With this organization, staff would be added to support the sale of its proprietary ParkPlus technology to other cities.
“It’s a tougher market than we thought,” said Shelley Trigg, acting director of the Calgary Parking Authority.
Edmonton and, more recently, Sylvan Lake bought the technology made in Calgary, but some councilors asked if the city should continue selling the product.
“We really need to realize if what we’re doing is going to work, if it’s not going to work at all, if there is another model to sell this technology, or if there is just not as much market as we thought there is “said Nenshi.
Civil affairs journalist Annalize Klingbeil reports live from the Council as budget considerations continue. Follow our updates here: