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Photo by Samuel Cheffins

Calgary Transit MAX hits the streets

By Samuel Cheffins, November 21 2018 — 

For 21 hours a day — 18 hours on Sundays — busses looped around the 60 kilometre, three-hour 72/73 Circle Route that serviced over 150 stops around the entire city, connecting the Alberta Children’s Hospital to Mount Royal University to Chinook Centre to Sunridge Mall and back again.

But on Nov. 19, these routes were permanently discontinued.

In its place, three bus routes picked up legs of the old service loop. You can still ride the bus around the entire way — you just need to make a couple of transfers to do so.

This is just one result of the massive changes Calgary Transit made across its entire bus network on Nov. 19. According to the city, some transit trips may now include a transfer or two more than before, but in exchange, each individual route is faster and more streamlined, theoretically shortening the average commute length.

At the centre of this initiative are three new MAX bus routes, with a fourth scheduled to open next year. A more streamlined version of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network, the MAX routes are the result of a $340-million transit infrastructure upgrade, including at-grade bus stops, bus-jumping lanes at intersections and a bus-only transitway along 17 Avenue SE.

Excluding schedule changes, 35 bus routes have been added, altered or discontinued to fully integrate these new MAX routes — including eight with direct connections to the University of Calgary.

Four routes — 53, 65, 82 and 408 — are staying exactly the same.

Another four routes that previously serviced the U of C no longer stop on campus. These routes are the aforementioned 72 and 73, as well as route 19, which will no longer travel further west than Lion’s Park Station, and route 91, which will be a shuttle between Lion’s Park Station and Foothills Hospital.

Two new routes now service the U of C. Route 38 replaces the north part of the circle route, providing service to Rundle Station and northeast communities like Whitehorn and Temple. The MAX Orange Line also serves as a north crosstown route for Calgary, travelling from Brentwood to Saddletowne stations, with stops including the Alberta Children’s Hospital, Foothills Medical Centre, North Hill Centre and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.

Additionally, two pre-existing routes were changed to include stops at the U of C. Route 90, a downtown and Beltline route, added a northwest leg that terminates at the Craigie Hall bus loop. Route 104 was extended slightly, now terminating at Craigie Hall after stopping at Foothills Hospital and Sunnyside Station.

Some routes that still serve campus as per usual have service changes elsewhere. Route 8 remains similar, but now stops at both the Foothills and Alberta Children’s hospitals. Route 9 now covers the west leg of the former circle route and terminates at Chinook Station. Route 20 is the same as before, but no longer connects to Foothills or Brentwood Station, while route 31 now extends east to connect to Lions Park Station.

All transit changes came into effect on Nov. 19. More information on Calgary Transit service and schedule changes can be found at calgarytransit.com/changes.

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