I have to give Vancouver a lot of credit for their public transit system. Being here at school, I don’t bring my car with me to Vancouver. I live on a very main bus route so it is super easy for me to get myself anywhere on public transit. There are ways to get just about everywhere here on the transit system, and it’s very clean and a lot of it is brand new as well.
The new Canada Line stretched from downtown Vancouver all the way out to the suburb of Richmond, and it’s pretty high speed; one of those trains that does not have a driver. Even if I did have a car here most of the time, I am pretty sure I would take the bus anyways because in the downtown it’s very expensive for parking (and better for the environment).
In Calgary, it’s a little bit different. The buses are a rare sight. They hardly come on time (I mean off by like 20 minutes), and you’re lucky if they do arrive. They also come very infrequently. They are working to build a train out to where I live in the west, but park & ride is still the way to go. Driving in a large SUV in Calgary is a popular sight and activity. It’s a driving city. Hopefully this changes and shifts slightly when the new train is up and running (2012) and all the people in the newer communities can use it.
For some, public transit is an option people avoid like the plague. Vancouver has made their system very approachable by operating it in a very ‘Vancouver’ manner. And by this I mean that it’s shiny and new — all the time. For the majority on all major bus routes, which is most of them (ha) the buses are brand spanking new, they are impeccably clean and they are a safe(r) means of travel. This makes them more approachable to those who would cancel out the bus because it’s “dirty” and “gross.” Because that’s really not something you could apply to this city’s public transit.
I’ve been able to remain committed to taking public transit for the entire challenge, minus reading week where I drove my car in Calgary. Another downside to Calgary is that nobody really wants to take the bus when it is 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) outside, even when the environment is in their best interest. When I go home for the summer, I might try riding my bike to work or doing a park and ride. Summers in Calgary are also awesome for this because of the dry blistering heat that allows you to be outside all the time sans elements like rain. Although it may snow.
Over all of this however, walking still remains to be the most eco-friendly mode of transit. Who knew.