Because the Town of Banff has finite roadway space, the town site can become congested quickly when more than 24,000 vehicles per day are tracked at the town entrances. This threshold was already surpassed in June, and in excess of 30,000 vehicles per day are expected on the Canada Day long weekend.
This weekend, the Town of Banff is appealing to visitors to take transit to Banff, or to park as soon as possible and walk, ride or Roam, to help reduce the traffic congestion expected in the community this weekend. Visitors are asked to avoid crossing the bridge, which could result in up to 90-minute traffic delays.
Residents who live on the south side of Banff and who must drive are significantly affected by these traffic delays, caused by many visitors driving to the parking lots at the Gondola or Hot Springs, and returning immediately down Mountain Avenue because the parking lots are full. Throughout the July long weekend, all intercept and downtown parking spaces and the road system is expected to be beyond capacity.
The Town of Banff is implementing mitigation measures to help reduce traffic congestion for residents who need to use their vehicles, and to improve the experience for visitors. One of the measures this weekend is to allow visitors to park on the downtown residential streets normally reserved for resident-only parking.
“The reality is, the Town of Banff cannot sustain the number of vehicles coming into town. We have requested additional intercept parking at the edge of town on Banff Avenue, but Parks Canada will not permit that proposal at this time,” said the Town’s director of engineering, Adrian Field.
“Our operation of the Liricon Train Station Parking Lot and Roam Transit certainly help, but without additional intercept parking or mass transit from Calgary, we will quickly reach full capacity of all parking lots and roadways in town.”
The Town’s long-term initiatives to help reduce traffic congestion include:
- Operation of a 500-stall free parking lot near the entrance to town at the Train Station, opened in late 2019
- Investment in affordable, convenient, and regular mass transit from Calgary to Banff, with the weekend On-It Regional Transit Service
- Investment in starting and growing Roam Public Transit serving all Banff and Banff National Park
- Operation of visitor-pay parking downtown to create more available short-term parking spots and encourage parking in the free lot at the entrance to town, and creation of a reserve for funding sustainable transportation and other environmental projects
To help more visitors park quickly, rather than contributing to traffic congestion, the Town is relaxing the restriction on resident-only parking on downtown residential streets for this weekend only. The objective is to allow an estimated 350 vehicle spaces throughout the zone, for approximately 1,000 vehicles to park throughout the day.
The Town is appealing for help from its residents to deal with the expected traffic issues this long weekend.
“These three days are expected to have the highest traffic volumes of the year, and we need all available space for parking, for the benefit of all residents in town, and to help transit move more efficiently,” said Town Manager Kelly Gibson.
“We hope residents understand we are implementing numerous measures, but we feel they are still not enough. This temporary move to allow visitors on the resident-only streets is a last resort to free up some parking that could significantly help reduce the congestion that affects residents and visitors alike. As stated in the Council meeting, we do not plan on using this temporary measure in the future.”
“Our programs such as free transit for residents and the e-bike rebate program are intended to help residents get around without vehicles for the Canada Day weekend, but we know many residents need to use their vehicles, and we hope these measures help them avoid traffic,” said Gibson.
Residents are asked to park and leave their vehicles in place if they are able to for the weekend, and park vehicles on private property, where possible.
Additional measures being implemented to reduce traffic delays this weekend include:
- Traffic signal override procedures to move backed up vehicles through intersections in an extended sequence
- Signage at all entrances about using the free Train Station Parking Lot
- Signage in the Town of Banff urging drivers to park on the north side and walk or take transit, to avoid severe traffic delays if driving to the south side
- Variable signs on the north side of the bridge installed when parking lots are full on Sulphur Mountain at the Gondola and Hot Springs
- Social media alerts about planning ahead for parking, transit, gondola bookings and other pre-trip planning responsibilities
- Media relations in the Calgary region urging visitors to park and take transit or walk
- Highway signage about parking and traffic issues
- Traffic control flaggers at key intersections to override traffic signals if necessary, and ensure safe and efficient movement of pedestrians and vehicles
- Temporarily allowing visitors to park on downtown residential streets that are normally restricted to resident-only parking, in order to allow more people to park and ride, walk, and take transit, rather than driving to the south side to become stuck in traffic
These measures will be monitored and adjusted as required.
For more information:
Jason Darrah, Town of Banff Communications