Wednesday, March 07, 2012


This may sound ridiculous, but the buses in Calgary don't have winter tires. As a result, when the roads get sloppy, the buses get stuck. Or crash. Either way, it means the service doesn't operate at anywhere near expected capacity and people suffer.

Case in point, Darlene had a doctor's appointment on Tuesday and waited for over an hour outside, for a bus that never came. Apparently the bus she was hoping to catch was stuck on a hill. Taking a taxi in this city would not have been an option, as anyone who lives here knows that if you cold call a cab company in Calgary, you'll be lucky to get a car in 3 hours. Assuming you even get through to an operator in the first place. Especially in bad weather.

If this were a delivery truck or something, I could forgive. But transit is an essential service for people without a vehicle and some peoples' jobs depend on it running on time. I've done a little research on this and it turns out that most Canadian cities don't equip their buses with snow tires, not even Montreal. Yet you rarely hear about their bus systems suffering. I wondered what the difference is, then I remembered. The difference between Montreal and Calgary is that Montreal actually plows their streets. All of them. As soon as the snow flies. Plus they come around to remove the snow. Calgary only plows bus routes and based on what I've seen this year, not very efficiently. Their idea of a snow plow is a sander truck with a tiny blade hanging from the mid-section of the truck. A real plow has multiple giant blades up front.

So as much as I'd like to blame Transit for the mess (and they have much to fault), in this case it's the city's snow clearing services that are to blame IMHO.

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