Longer CTrains began plying the LRT Blue Line Monday in hopes they'll reduce peak-hour overcrowding.
On average, six four-car trains will now run weekdays on the line extending from Saddletowne Station in the northeast, through the downtown to 69th Street in the southwest.
Increasing the trains from three to four cars — some of them the new Mask carriages — will bump up capacity from 600 to 800 passengers, said Calgary Transit Director Doug Morgan.
"There were some six to eight trips in the heart of rush hour, it's not only capacity it's the comfort of the passengers," he said.
"We really saw we were probably past the point we should have been and were hurrying to make sure the four cars could provide service."
Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the changes should only increase the use of an already extremely popular CTrain system.
"Providing more convenience attracts more customers and gets people out of their cars," said Nenshi, who then proceeded to ride the expanded train southbound from Saddletowne Station.
Four-car trains went into operation in late 2015 on the northwest-to-southwest Red Line, whose ridership is nearly double that on the Blue route.
The city's goal is to ultimately transform most if not all its CTrains into the longer version, said Morgan.
Lengthening the Blue Line trains has meant expanding and re-calibrating platforms, signalling and training drivers, said city officials.
"I would say we first started this project 10 years ago...it's very much on time but, man, it has been a huge project to get ourselves here and it will really pay off for people in the future," said Nenshi, referring to city-wide LRT upgrades.
Regular rider Afaith Tugade said it's been obvious for some time that the longer trains are needed.
"I've noticed more and more people taking the train," said Tugade, after arriving at Saddletowne Station.
"More trains will leave on me because there's no room on them."
Morgan said Calgary Transit will also dedicate more of the longer trains to handle crowds at city events.
"We have a lot of peak demands we'll be focusing on," he said.
To fund the stationary improvements, the city spent $22.3 million from its gas tax fund while the province chipped in $44.2 million.
And the city has now taken possession of 19 of the new Mask cars that will number 63 in a year to partially replace the U2 carriages, some of which date back 35 years.