By Jason Herring, July 12 2016 —
Calgary Transit ramps up their train service every year during the Calgary Stampede. For the length of Stampede, trains run at least every eight minutes from 6:00 a.m – 12:45 a.m., and once every half hour for the rest of the day. This is the only time of the year where CTrain service doesn’t halt overnight.
It makes sense that Calgary Transit reserves this special schedule for Stampede. Swarms of folks clad in cowboy gear use transit to make their way to the grounds and clubs throughout the event. The city wants tourists to see our infrastructure working at its finest. Having accessible public transit options cuts down on the amount of drivers who decide to get behind the wheel after having a few drinks.
But the Stampede isn’t the only time of year when people need reliable access to public transportation at all hours. Many people work jobs with non-traditional hours and start or finish work during a period where the CTrain isn’t running. And I know I’ve left concerts early because I’m worried I’ll miss the last train and I am not willing to spend over $50 on a taxi to shuttle me home.
Even if you’re not worried about the price of a cab, getting one on a weekend can be challenging. A lack of competition hurts availability of transit even more, as ride-sharing companies like Uber have had a difficult time entering the Calgary market.
Good public transit prioritizes safety and convenience. Giving people a way to get around during all hours of the day satisfies both of those criteria. Even if trains only run every half hour like they do during the Stampede, it provides an essential service that previously did not exist.
Some argue that it’s not viable to have trains run during the wee hours of the night because not enough people would use the service. While ridership numbers would certainly be much lower during these periods, the purpose of public transit is not to make a profit. While city services should still spend prudently, helping people get safely where they need to go matters more than saving dollars. And this kind of thinking was seen only last week when a city committee approved a sliding-scale low-income Calgary Transit pass.
While it’s great that the city is making the main transit lines accessible at all hours for Stampede festivities, early July isn’t the only time of year that people need this service. Transit service available 24/7 year-round would make the lives of many Calgarians easier and safer.