Tracks at three stations shut down Friday add to commuters' frustration
It's been only one month since the Chinook LRT station closed down for construction and already customers are about to be faced with even more disruption this long weekend.
Until now, the C-Train has still been passing through the station without stopping. However, service will be completely shut down between 39 Avenue and Heritage stations from approximately 6 p.m. on Feb. 15 to the end of service on Feb. 18 due to demolition at Chinook station.
Northbound customers will need to disembark at Heritage station and southbound customers at 39 Avenue station, where the B201 C-Train replacement will shuttle customers between the two.
Customers will need to plan ahead for even more added travel time during these days.
Details on this disruption can be found here.
The $14-million project was planned to accommodate the growing number of commuters at one of Calgary's busiest stations and to enhance the station for customers, says David Cooper, senior planner with Calgary Transit.
The city is expanding the Chinook LRT platform for future four-car trains. The platform expansion project was launched last year in an effort to accommodate more customers at once. Expansion still needs to be done on13 more stations. The entire project is expected to finish in 2014.
The 31-year-old station is also being reconstructed because it's at the end of its lifecycle, says Cooper.
Improvements to the bus terminal — once a major pick-up and drop-off zone for 11 bus routes— are also being made. It's been relocated during construction to Third Street S.W. C-Train users now need to transfer to the 201 C-Train replacement shuttle at 39 Avenue station to access those routes.
Sam Lees, 23, works at Chinook Centre. She says she now has to adjust her schedule, sometimes taking cabs to work, in order to arrive on time because the replacement system has become too unreliable.
Andrew Hendriks, who commutes daily to the Chinook area for work, says his travel time with transit used to take about 10 minutes. Now it can take up to an hour and a half.
"I don't think it's right to expect Calgarians to have that kind of flexibility in their schedules," he says.
"It's really put a kink into my daily plans and my thoughts about living without a car in Calgary."
Asma Chanem, 19, a Chinook Centre employee, says her trip from Richmond Hill to work has increased from 15 minutes to between 30 and 45 minutes.
Another transit user Jordan Geske travels to work at Deerfoot Meadows from the Third Street S.W. bus terminal. Geske says,"I've been late for work almost every day since it closed."
The city provided information about the closure and new routes well before construction began and on the first day, says Cooper. He says that the average added wait time is only about five minutes.
However, a major frustration heard is with the length of construction, especially considering it will still be closed during the Calgary Stampede.
Cooper says doing two projects at once is in customers' best interest rather than having to cause two separate disruptions.
Hendriks says he doesn't understand why the Chinook station needs to be torn down at all.
"It doesn't have to happen... it wasn't falling apart. It needed some updates but it was usable. It's just like Heritage or Southland, all similar stations all built at the same time. Why does Chinook have to be torn down?"
He says he thinks the money could be better spent on ensuring safety on Calgary Transit.
The new Chinook LRT station will be handicap accessible and will have an expanded platform as well as a sloped walkway, glass canopy over the platform and enhanced bus terminal and landscaping. The project is set to be finished Aug. 2013.
- By ALYSSA QUIRICO