Calgary Transit Gets Stimulus Funds

As announced yesterday at the Stampede C-Train stop (near where I live), and covered by the Herald here, Calgary will get $270 million to accelerate some transit projects that were approved in the city’s capital plan but awaiting funding. The $90 million from each of the province and federal government will allow these projects to be built out over the next 2 years, if things go to plan, rather than the 5+ years that would have been the case with only city funding. The funding is mainly for bread and butter upgrades, including station upgrades (primarily to accomodate 4 car trains), security and ticketing system, and one new station at 11th St on the west side of downtown that will serve to link the new West LRT and existing NW LRT. This is exactly the kind of stuff that the stimulus funds were meant to go to: capital upgrades that would make a difference but could be delivered quickly. In that sense they had to be at an advanced stage of planning and design within the transportation plan, yet be visible, tangible improvements (politics are politics after all!).

This also will free some some cash up for the city to use on other projects (although probably not immediately, since the economic slide has impacted the “pay-as-you-go” capital funding). One of the funded items in the stimulus was park-and-ride lots for the new SE BRT; improving this transit corridor is a major priority for the city, given the enormous growth that has and will continue to take place in the SE (also given that the city cannot grow to the SW because of the Tsuu Tina First Nation). In my role to apply the city’s new public-private partnership (P3) policy to reviewing new projects, the SE LRT naturally is an obvious target. Discussions have begun within the administration though it is early days yet. Will keep posted as much as possible without revealing any City Hall secrets! The success of the newly built (on time and budget) Canada Line in Vancouver gives grounds for optimism.

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