Transportation is a big deal. You probably don’t think about it every time you leave the house, because you have regular habits for how to get to each destination. For more than 70% of Calgarians, that means getting in a car to go to work. This makes sense, because our choices are shaped by the design of the communities we live in: decisions made by politicians and city planners across decades. One of the most important decisions these people can make is how to run an effective public transportation system.
This month in our series on climate action in Calgary, and where Mount Pleasant fit, we want to share a few thoughts on public transit: its potential, and what’s needed to get there.
Done right, public transit can improve affordability, health, quality of life, and the environment. Although it’s a more obvious ding in your wallet when you buy a ticket every day, or a pass every month, over time the costs of using transit are much lower than driving to work–factoring in fuel, maintenance, parking, insurance, etc. If transit were more convenient and reliable, could you sell that second car? Here’s more incentive for younger families: as of January 2023, kids 12 and under ride transit for free (up from 5 and under).
For health and quality of life, those short walks to and from bus stops add up, and taking cars off the road benefits everyone–lighter traffic, less urban noise, safer streets. And finally, the environmental impacts: about one-third of Calgary’s carbon emissions come from transportation. Traffic jams of single-occupancy vehicles are a big part of this. Transit systems across the country, including in Calgary, are reducing their emissions. Did you know the C-Train is already powered by wind electricity? Given the number of people that transit can serve, this has a much bigger climate impact than individuals buying electric cars.
In Mount Pleasant, we already benefit from bus service that provides convenient trips to the downtown core, or the grocery stores to the north (Route 2 on 4 St NW). Major rapid bus routes also run along Centre St. (300, 301) and 16 Ave N (Max Orange). However, these express routes are quite a long walk from certain parts of our neighbourhood. What if routes like the 404, that reach further north and west, came more often than once an hour? Frequency is a major aspect of why people choose, or don’t choose, to take transit.
Of course, the Green Line LRT will significantly change transit in Mount Pleasant, as stations at 28 Ave N and 16 Ave N open up easier train access to the north and east parts of the neighbourhood. However, the opening of the Green Line–especially north of downtown–is a very long time away. With more frequent and reliable bus service, transit use could grow in Mount Pleasant now, instead of ten or more years from now.
The City of Calgary’s Community Profile for Mount Pleasant from 2016 shows transit use on par with the rest of the city–about 16% of commuters primarily use transit to get to work. Given our proximity to downtown, SAIT, the University of Calgary, and other destinations, that number should grow in the years to come. We’ll be watching for a new Community Profile, based on the 2021 Canadian census, coming out soon. For now, we hope to see you on the bus.
If you want to get involved and be a part of making Mount Pleasant a greener community, we would love to have you join the committee. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, if you have any questions, or if you’d like to join our email list for our planned quarterly newsletter. As well, please check out our Mount Pleasant Green Initiatives Group on Facebook! You can find us through the Mount Pleasant Community Association page.
The MPCA Green Initiatives Committee