Calgary is a fairly dispersed city, which means that it can often be difficult to get to where you need to be. Unless you live in the city center, you will likely become heavily dependent on a car or public transportation to get around. Unfortunately, public transportation in Calgary does not perform well compared to many other Canadian cities.
Having a car is a distinct advantage here and the running costs, especially the fuel, are relatively good. There is certainly no need to buy a car, especially if you do your research. If you can find somewhere to live in a location well served by Calgary transportation links, the need for a car decreases considerably. It should be noted that accommodation near Calgary’s double train lines is often a bit expensive, but it is worth it if you want to make getting around the city much easier. The good news is that public transportation in Calgary isn’t as expensive as some other Canadian cities, and there are also good options for the occasional driver. Let’s take a closer look at what to expect from transportation in Calgary.
The fastest public transportation offering in Calgary is the C-Train service. This mainly overhead system has two railway lines, blue and red. The blue line travels from southwest to northeast (and vice versa), the red line serving passengers traveling between the northwest and the south. The two lines overlap in downtown Calgary, where passengers can enjoy free service between the stations on Center Street and 8th Street.
The aerial nature of this rail system makes waiting for the train quite uncomfortable in the middle of winter, but many stations are equipped with radiators to make it more pleasant. Trains are generally reliable, arriving every 5-10 minutes and serving most of the most popular areas of the city.
The C-Train is run on an honor system, which means that everyone can get barrier-free access to the service. Passengers can buy tickets at stations and are subject to random checks by inspectors who can 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, which costs $ 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.
3. 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.
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