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 over three kilometers 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 more than two kilometers 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.
“In designing the MAX Purple corridor, we considered not just the transit experience but the experience of all road users and the wider community,” says Dave Thatcher, senior principal at Stantec. “By taking a 360-degree view of the area and considering future development, we’ve provided a solution that will improve 17 Avenue SE immediately, and into the future.”
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.
“This is a huge boost for our businesses and for the people who live along the corridor,” says Alison Karim-McSwiney, executive director, International Ave BRZ. “We worked closely with Stantec at every step along the way, and the design we got is going to work well with the needs of our community.”
Phase 2 of MAX Purple is a dedicated facility that runs parallel to 17 Avenue and includes two kilometers 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 MAX Purple Line is a key element of our plan to expand transit options to Calgary residents and to set the stage for future growth in the city,” says Howard Kai, City of Calgary. “Working with Stantec’s design team, we realized the design vision and accomplished the objectives we set out.”
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.