Some cities are easy to get around in. Calgary is not one of those cities. Between its sheer size, under-developed transit, and a downtown core composed of one-way streets and hour-dependent parking, it’s frustrating for long time residents to get around, much less new travellers. If you find yourself in our lovely downtown core, and you’re looking for a good way to get around, here’s the scoop.
The Calgary C-Train system has experienced nearly a decade of sustained growth. However, due to several more decades of inattention it is still woefully under-developed for the size of the city it services. In Calgary’s downtown Core, riding the C-train during either the morning or evening rush hour will give you an excellent idea of how a sardine feels when it’s being stuffed into a can. During the winter, it’s uncomfortably warm, you’re pressed up against fellow travelers on all sides and it smells bad. In the summer it is just as crowded and smells worse.
There is still no C-Train stop that services the airport.
There are a few positive points to consider; during the middle of the day it is not very busy, and you can ride within the downtown core for free. So, if you’re just going a handful of blocks, and it is sometime between 10 AM and 4 PM, this is an excellent way to get around. Otherwise, take a cab.
Also a problem (this is why so many people drive themselves around in Calgary, there’s no problem-free transit of any kind), there aren’t enough taxi’s in the city to service the population. This is due to the small number of Cab Companies in the city doing an excellent job of suppressing the municipal government from issuing more cab licenses.
This effectively means that there will be times when it is almost impossible to get a cab on short notice. For the most part, there are enough that will respond quickly during business hours in Calgary’s downtown core. However, if the weather is bad, or there’s a large event going on (Stampede, Global Petroleum Show, etc) you should order a cab as far in advance as possible.
Also, you should be aware that a cab ride to the airport can cost upwards of $40. Fortunately, there is one other option if you need to get to YYC.
Thank the Holy and Blessed Flying Spaghetti Monster for the Allied Limousine Airport Shuttle. Limousine it is not, but for $15 per person, per trip what do you expect? This speedy little shuttle bus plugs the giant gaping hole in downtown Calgary’s transit strategy by providing pick up and drop off service for every hotel in the downtown core.
The only downside is how little leeway they give anyone running a few minutes late. They operate on a fixed 30-minute schedule, and they will wait a maximum of 5 minutes before jetting off to their next rendezvous point. This means, if you book them, make sure you are outside the hotel and waiting for them at the exact time they said they will be there for pick up. Otherwise, well, there’s always the Taxi Cabs.
Jonathan Meier is the Online Marketing Coordinator for Nuvo Hotel Suites, a small boutique hotel in downtown Calgary, Alberta (to learn more about Nuvo peruse the rest of the site, or check out our Facebook Page). When he’s not at his desk, he’s usually out in the mountains near his hometown of Canmore where he can be seen climbing, skiing, or doing anything at all that doesn’t involve computers.
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