Vehicle traps designed to only allow Calgary Transit buses past are still catching cars more than a year after a memo to city council admitted the use of so-called “bus traps” were “no longer viable” as a means to control traffic.
The City of Calgary started using bus traps in the early 70s using the rationale that it would reduce traffic cutting through neighbourhoods and reduce traffic and spill-over parking near popular community facilities.
The traps are a pit dug narrow enough for city buses to pass over, but too wide for most other vehicles.
Braden Bourbonnais’ white Mazda hatchback was one of two cars Global News observed getting caught in the traps on Wednesday.
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“I set my Google Maps and it was going to be taking me up the street, and I did see (the bus trap),” Bourbonnais told Global News. “I wasn’t sure what it was because I’m not really from Calgary – I’m actually from Cochrane.
“I thought I was Texas Gate at first, so I tried to split it like you normally would do, and next thing you know… I had to call AMA, I don’t really know what to do.”
The hatchback’s front wheels – the drive wheels – were sunk into the trap, preventing Bourbonnais from backing out. Apparent damage could be seen on the front bumper.
A transit driver coming up on the trap had to open a bypass gate to get past the stuck car.
In a June 2022 memo, Doug Morgan, general manager of operational services, said community shuttles cannot safely navigate the traps and technology has advanced to offer better alternatives.
There are seven active bus traps left in the city, but two are either unused or not activated.
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Cal Schuler is a neighbour to one of the bus traps still in active service.
He said seeing a vehicle stuck in one is a daily occurrence, despite a large sign that warns about it up the road.
Despite the common sight of tow trucks in response, Schuler thinks there’s value in their ability to reduce traffic.
“There is value in it specifically for our building because we have a lot of seniors and people in chairs and stuff. And myself, I walk my dog across here all the time,” Schuler said.
“So if you didn’t have this we’d have people screaming down the road like a freeway.”
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City officials planned to decommission the remaining bus traps during the current four-year budget cycle.
“Administration has indicated that these bus traps only get removed and replaced when they reach their end of life, which is not clearly defined,” the memo reads.
Bourbonnais said the city should get rid of all bus traps.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me. And obviously, (the maps app) doesn’t know what a bus trap is, because it wouldn’t be taking me up this road.”
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