Calgary - Getting Around -

City Layout and Navigation

Calgary is divided into four quadrants, NE, NW, SE, SW. The dividing line between east and west is Centre Street in the north and roughly Macleod Trail in the south (although in a couple spots it deviates: through downtown and near Chinook Centre, where an actual Centre Street exists, albeit as a collector or local road). The dividing line between north and south is generally the Bow River in the west, and Memorial Drive in the east. Addresses proceed outwards from the center of the city; for example, 219 16th Avenue NE is located on 16th Avenue N, between 1st and 2nd Street E.

Deerfoot Trail (Highway 2) running north-south is the only true freeway in Calgary, although certain other roads have sections that alternate between being a true freeway and an at-grade expressway, with plans to become full freeways. Other major roads in the city are often given the street suffix Trail, such as Glenmore Trail, Crowchild Trail and Bow Trail; many of these roads are expressways for most or all of its length and planned to become freeways. Roads with the suffixes Boulevard or Drive are generally the next most major classification. Roads with the suffix Avenue run east-west, and roads with the suffix Street run north-south.

Calgary has a fairly dense downtown, ringed by inner city neighborhoods laid out on a grid pattern for roughly 30-40 blocks. These inner city districts often have unique characteristics and are worth wandering through, for the visitor with some time to spend in the city. The outer suburbs are a typical sprawl of uniform housing and, except for major shopping, parks and other facilities scattered around, have little interest for the typical visitor.

Getting Around

Public Transit

Calgary's public transit system was first established in 1909 as the Calgary Municipal Railway. Since then, it has developed into an efficient, fast, and extensive transit system. In particular, it was significantly built up in preparation for the 1988 Winter Olympics. They have a light rail transit system called the C-Train (LRT) that runs faithfully and frequently. In the downtown core, you can ride the C-Train for 14 city blocks for free, along the length of 7th Avenue. There are three spurs of LRT track meeting in the downtown along 7th Avenue; line 201 starts in the far south (at Somerset-Bridlewood station), travels to the downtown, then exits the downtown to the northwest, traveling to Dalhousie Station. Line 202 starts in the northeast at Whitehorn Station, and travels into the downtown, ending at 10th Avenue Station within the downtown. Trains are marked with the end station they are traveling to; a 'Somerset' train leaves Dalhousie Station, travels south into the downtown, then south to Somerset station (where it turns around to become a 'Dalhousie' train).

Although buses come along somewhat less often, and tend to serve commuters more than tourists, it is still possible to get around to the main places without too much difficulty. Bus routes are numbered, and generally designed to connect with the downtown or with an LRT station. Trains run every 10 minutes (5 minutes or less in rush hour), serving from around 4 AM to 1 AM. Major bus routes may run as early as 5 AM and late as 1 AM, but many more only operate until 8 or 9 PM, or, worse, during rush hours only. Bus frequencies can be as low as one per hour, although 30 minutes is more common.

Transit tickets are $2 for adults, and permit 90 minutes of travel connecting to any transit line. The C-Train is on the honor system, although inspectors do occasionally check riders for valid tickets, with expensive fines ($150 or more) being charged. Travel on the C-Train in the downtown free fare zone is obviously free of charge. Information about the Transit System is available on the Calgary Transit Web Page, or by phoning their information line (403)262-1000 from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM, local time.


Calgary has a good network of off-street bike paths, although motorists are sometimes less-than-courteous. Weather is unpredictable, and snowy cycling conditions may occur anytime from September to May. Bike racks are fairly common, especially in shopping areas.

The most heavily traveled bike path (and one worth a recreational ride) are along the Bow and Elbow River, especially the path along the Bow from Crowchild Trail to the Zoo. Another major pathway extends north up the Nose Creek valley, including two places to cross Deerfoot Trail. While there is a pathway that leads to the airport, connecting to it requires crossing an industrial area, which is not recommended for novice cyclists.

Adapted from WikiTravel under the Wiki License

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