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Calgary is quite a dispersed city, which means it can often be difficult to get to where you need to be on time.

Unless you’re living downtown, you’re likely to become heavily reliant on a car or public transport to get around. Unfortunately, the public transport in Calgary doesn’t stack up well compared to many other Canadian cities.

Having a car is a distinct advantage here, and running costs, especially fuel, are relatively good value. It’s certainly not necessary to get a car however,  especially if you do your research. If you can secure a place to live in a location well served by Calgary’s transport links, then the need for a car reduces significantly. It should be noted that accommodation near Calgary’s dual train lines often carries a bit of a premium price but it’s worth it if you want to make your downtown commute to work much easier.

The good news is that public transport in Calgary isn’t as expensive to access as some other Canadian cities, and there are good options out there for the casual driver too. Let’s take a closer look at what to expect from transport in Calgary.


The quickest public transport offering in Calgary is the C-Train service. This primarily over-ground system has two rail lines, blue and red. The blue line travels Southwest to Northeast (and vice-versa), with the red line serving passengers travelling between the Northwest and South. Both lines overlap in downtown Calgary, where passengers can avail of the service for free between the Centre Street and 8th Street stations.

The overground nature of this rail system does make waiting for the train quite uncomfortable in the height of winter but many stations are equipped with heaters to make it more pleasant. The trains are generally reliable, arriving every 5-10 minutes, and serve many of the most popular neighbourhoods in the city.

The C-Train is run on an honour system, meaning that anybody can get barrier-free access to the service. Passengers can buy their tickets at the stations, and they are subject to random checks by inspectors who may board the train during the journey. Individual adult tickets cost $3.30, and are valid for 90 minutes. Frequent commuters will find better value with the monthly pass, costing $103, which also covers access to the city’s bus network.


There are 155 bus routes in Calgary serving all parts of the city, and many offer easy access to downtown locations. The easiest way to find the best, and fastest, bus journey is to use the Transit app. This offers minute-by-minute updates on bus and train times in the city, and can save you unnecessary long bus stop waits out in the cold. Like the train system, a one-off bus ticket costs $3.30 for an adult.

Outside downtown, there are free park-and-ride car parks featuring free plug-in block heaters for C-Train and bus users. These heaters are needed in cold weather to keep car engines warm so they can start.

Taxi/ Uber

It’s certainly more convenient to hop in a car to your desired location, and there are plenty of services available. Uber’s outlay in Calgary is impressive, and you’re rarely waiting any longer than a few minutes for the driver’s arrival once you’ve confirmed the booking.

An alternative way of easing your transport in Calgary woes may be via the distinctive yellow Checker cabs around the city too. These are often cheaper than Uber, and they can also be ordered using a smartphone app.


For people who only want to drive from time to time, or want to ease their way into driving in Calgary, the Car2Go system is an excellent option. It accepts international drivers licenses, and the application process is relatively straight forward (you do however need a credit card). Once you’ve been registered with the system, you can access hundreds of small Smart cars and larger Mercedes crossovers across the city.

For short 10 minute journeys to another part of the city, it works out much cheaper than renting a taxi/Uber. Once you get over the initial stress of the first couple of journeys, you’ll quickly find that driving around Calgary is relatively straight-forward. Just remember to drive on the right side of the road!

You can even take the vehicle for up to two days, but beware that you can’t drive beyond the Alberta state border. If you’re looking to take a day-trip spin to the Rockies however, renting a car usually works out a bit cheaper.

Airport to City Centre

The first day, or even the first couple of hours, in a new city can be stressful so here’s a brief bit of advice on how to get from the airport to your accommodation. Calgary’s international airport is in the northeast of the city, and there are two bus services which you can take. Route 100 is shorter and cheaper, but only travels as far as McKnight-Westwinds, where you’ll have to get a C-Train to go downtown. The 300 bus offers direct access to downtown, costing around $10 per ticket and taking 25-30 minutes.

Getting a taxi is a more comfortable and quicker option, and won’t work out much more expensive than the bus if there are a few people sharing the car.

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