Chestermere City Council received an update on Chestermere to Calgary transit feasibility study as information during the June 16 Regular Meeting of Council.
“The project’s goal is to explore the feasibility of transit there is between the two municipalities. However, the feasibility study does not guarantee the implementation,” said Planner I Community Growth and Infrastructure, Sara Alinaghi Pour.
On Feb. 4, 2019, the City of Calgary Council directed administration to begin discussions with Chestermere administration to explore the potential of a transit service between the municipalities.
On Aug. 13, 2019, Chestermere administration during a Committee of the Whole Meeting were directed to create a study exploring two options such as a formal express route to downtown Calgary with several stops in Chestermere, and a peak-period extension of Calgary Transit’s MAX Purple route.
The feasibility study project consists of four phases, including a context and background review, service option refinement, ridership and revenue estimates, and an implementation plan.
In May, phase one, and phase two of the feasibility study project were completed.
Now, city administration is currently gathering additional information to begin phase three of the study.
“It provides a high-quality service to Chestermere residents which is public transportation accommodation for their benefit,” Pour said.
“The project aligns well with all goals related to the vision for partnerships, with the ambition to build strong regional relationships, initiate collaborative projects, and explore innovative business models. The proposal is consistent with the vision for opportunities, with the goal to serve the City of Chestermere’s residents at the highest level of quality and maximize efficiencies to spend in a smart manner,” Pour said.
The ultimate goal for the transit feasibility study is to ensure a transit system is created that provides a well-functioning service for both City of Chestermere and the City of Calgary residents and businesses.
“Availability of public transit provides better potential environmental outcomes by improving the air quality and likely reducing the traffic volumes on the streets. In addition, people will not need to rely upon private vehicles to commute from one location to another destination. People can reduce for the fuel and car insurance costs and have a more affordable lifestyle,” Pour said.
Adding, “Another benefit would be the enhancement of social interaction between people. Transit provides this opportunity for people to talk with each other while sitting on a seat at the bus station or while riding inside the bus. Riding on the same bus and travelling between shared destinations provides people with the opportunity to interact socially.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the public engagement on the feasibility of a transit system between Chestermere and Calgary, the City of Chestermere administration is working to evaluate the best approach moving forward.
“How the public will be responding to our questions is definitely affected by the pandemic. There are some major key concerns to decide how to move forward for this phase,” Pour said.
“For example, on one hand, there might be groups of people who prefer not to use the public transit because they are mainly at home in this situation. On the other hand, some people will prefer to have the public transit in the City of Chestermere and consider that service as an important priority,” she said.
“This is something that residents will need time to digest and think about the pros and cons. The sooner we get the conversation started, the better it is,” said City Councillor Ritesh Narayan.
“We would like to get as many people as possible engaged and preferably in person, but for now, let’s get something started on social media,” he added.
Not only is the cost of a transit system between Chestermere and Calgary a large concern, but the level of interest is another determining factor if the transit system is implemented.
“I’ve often heard residents are in favour, especially with local youth going to Universities, on the other side I’ve heard the argument the reason why people live in Chestermere is because they know there is no transit and they OK with it,” Narayen said.
“It will be nice to get a feel of what people’s stance on this matter is. Ultimately it comes down to the cost, and what the level of service will look like,” he said.
The cost of the transit system will depend on when, and how many times the transit system runs throughout the day.
Currently, the City of Chestermere administration is in contact with the City of Calgary to review and consider different scenarios.