With hundreds of businesses located along the 17 Avenue corridor, a median running transitway was selected to optimize the transit operations and minimize bus/vehicle conflicts (looking eastbound at 44 Street SE). Photo: Jaime Vedres

With hundreds of businesses located along the 17 Avenue corridor, a median running transitway was selected to optimize the transit operations and minimize bus/vehicle conflicts (looking eastbound at 44 Street SE). Photo: Jaime Vedres

Calgary’s first dedicated Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor, called MAX Purple, is now open and serving the community. The design, led by Stantec, has transformed the corridor into a multimodal street with a strong focus on the needs of pedestrians, and transit, while still accommodating high volumes of traffic.

MAX Purple, which has transformed two miles of 17 Avenue SE, will provide Calgarians with a significant improvement in the speed and reliability of transit operations in the corridor, as well as a safer pedestrian experience. The connection of 17 Avenue SE to the City’s downtown has been enhanced by one mile of dedicated facility that provides a direct connection for pedestrians, cyclists and transit. The project was led by the City of Calgary with funding from the Alberta and Federal Governments.

Stantec worked with GEC Architecture to design stations using a “kit of parts” approach, allowing the same components to be used on a variety of scales of stations across the City’s BRT system. The MAX Purple stations include heated shelters, real-time information, security and future allowances for off board fare payment. Photo: Jaime Vedres

Stantec worked with GEC Architecture to design stations using a “kit of parts” approach, allowing the same components to be used on a variety of scales of stations across the City’s BRT system. The MAX Purple stations include heated shelters, real-time information, security and future allowances for off board fare payment. Photo: Jaime Vedres

Calgary’s 17 Avenue SE has historically had a significant number of pedestrians and transit customers, though the facilities to accommodate them were in need of enhancement. Narrow sidewalks were widened, and a buffer was added between the pedestrian realm and the roadway. In Phase I of the route, the BRT travels along a median transitway through the International Avenue business district — home to more than 400 businesses. The full length of the MAX Purple Line is home to 60,000 Calgary residents.

Phase 2 of MAX Purple is a dedicated facility that runs parallel to 17 Avenue and includes one mile of pathway that pass over the WID Canal, Deerfoot Trail, and the Bow River, providing several direct connections to the City’s extensive pathway system. Initial plans have also been developed to offer dedicated on-street bike accommodation on the parallel corridors.

The new transitway bridge over Deerfoot Trail has been designed to allow for potential future conversion to LRT (looking west towards downtown Calgary). Photo: Jaime Vedres

The new transitway bridge over Deerfoot Trail has been designed to allow for potential future conversion to LRT (looking west towards downtown Calgary). Photo: Jaime Vedres

While the project utilized traditional engagement sessions to consult the community, the Stantec team went a step further by also attending unannounced pop-up events at key community locations and drop-in storefronts with extended hours to accommodate the diverse schedules of community businesses and stakeholders.

MAX Purple is one of three new lines for the City of Calgary’s BRT. This project will serve as an example for other jurisdictions in Canada on how to cost-effectively enhance transit while improving the public realm.

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