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Alberta: Transit solutions to reduce congestion in Banff

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CPCS considers options for adding rail and bus transit from Calgary to Banff as congestion exceeds road capacity.

The challenge

As Canada’s oldest national park becomes increasingly popular, congestion from Calgary to Banff just keeps getting worse.

Visitors can expect longer travel times, more greenhouse gas emissions, increased traffic in wildlife corridors and an overall worse experience.

Traffic is particularly troublesome during the summer months, often exceeding road capacity. Delays can be sometimes over ten minutes.

The Town of Banff, along with other stakeholders, retained a team led by CPCS to explore alternative transportation options from Calgary to Banff, in part to reduce congestion.

What we did  

CPCS conducted feasibility studies for bus and rail transit options. The CPCS method includes these tasks:

  • Stakeholder engagement to establish common project understanding
  • Literature review to inform ridership, financial and economic analyses
  • Online and in-person surveys to supplement rail and bus feasibility assessments
  • Estimation of ridership, revenues, costs and greenhouse gas emissions
  • Regulatory assessment to understand track access and other regulatory requirements
calgary-banff-passenger-rail-congestion-map
potential station locations in Calgary

Impact 

CPCS developed both bus and rail options as potential alternative transportation methods from Calgary to Banff. Ridership, revenue and cost estimates are covered for both. While neither option would completely nullify congestion in the area, complementary initiatives, such as improved local transit in the Bow Valley, could spur transit ridership.

The Town of Banff published the study in 2019.