Calgary: Model of Transit and Automobile Planning Success
Yonah Freemark explains that Calgary, where 87 percent of locals live in suburban environments, "is attracting big crowds to its transit system, and those crowds continue to increase in size…. demonstrating that even when residential land use is oriented strongly towards auto dependency, it is possible to encourage massive use of the transit system."
Freemark credits the expansion of the C-Train (the second-most-heavily used light rail system in North America) along with heavy, and growing, use of the bus network for some of that success. "Indeed, Calgary buses now are providing about 20 million more annual rides than they were in 1996. Overall, the transit system is carrying about 80 million more riders annually than it was 17 years ago." Freemark notes that that growth has outpaced population growth in the city over that period.
But comparing Calgary's investments with the transit investments of a city like Dallas, according to Freemark's analysis, requires another explanation for the success of the Canadian city. Freemark goes on to detail the key to Calgary's success: strategies in downtown that minimize the use of automobiles.