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.
Click here for a map of the public transport in Calgary routes.
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.