So the city of Ottawa has screwed up once again.
Frankly, I’m not surprised. They reverse decisions so many times it’s hard to figure exactly what is going on down there.
The latest flip-flop has them not building light rail to the south of the city, instead going east to west.
This is a brutal decision for several reasons.
First off, is the main reason the councillors are giving. The numbers for a north/south line just aren’t there, they say. The city of Ottawa’s numbers say there are 18,000 people who take transit from Orleans to downtown, but only 300 from Riverside South.
But those numbers don’t tell the whole story. There is only one bus that goes from Riverside South to anywhere, and it leaves every half hour, and goes only to the Greenboro station.
I did a quick map route using OC Transpo’s web site. If you were to leave Riverside South, and wanted to get to city hall at 8 a.m., you would have to leave around 6:43, and arrive 38 minutes early for your appointment. Great service, isn’t it?
The other problem with these statistics is that it doesn’t take into account how many people are using the transit that comes from other communities. In Kanata, for example, how many people take their car from Stittsville, Fitzroy Harbour, or Carp, leave it at a park and ride in Kanata, and then take the bus downtown?
Now how many from Greely, Manotick or Osgoode do the same with Riverside South? None, because there isn’t a park and ride, and again, the bus service isn’t great.
The other problem with east/west getting light rail first is the fact they already have a transit system in place. It’s what is giving them the great numbers the councillors are using. And they plan on adding more, such as a new transit station on Eagleson Road in Kanata, and wants to keep going to Scotiabank Place. If they’re going to be getting light rail first, why continue to expand the bus transitway?
As well, east west has more road infrastructure in place. Besides the bus transitway, there’s Highway 417, Carling Avenue and Richmond Road that will bring you downtown. In the south, there’s Bank Street and Bronson Avenue, neither of which go into the Riverside South or Nepean communities.
Here’s what’s going to happen. Councillors are going to agree to build the east-west light rail first. It probably won’t be completed for 10 to 15 years. By then, Riverside South will be about the size of Orleans, and Barrhaven will be the size of Kanata. There won’t be any road infrastructure, commuters will be complaining, and city councillors at that point will argue that light rail needs to be built in the south as quickly as possible. Of course, after debating it on and off for five years and reversing and re-reversing their decisions, they’ll finally agree to build the Transitway — to Carleton Place.
People in the south, get ready for years of gridlock.