Light rail

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.



Filed under News

9 responses to “Light rail

  1. Billy Bob Thorton

    The numbers are right. You are wrong on several points. There is a Park n Ride at South Keys and nobody uses it. And if people in Riverside South cant be bothered to drive to South Keys, I can’t see how they can be encouraged to leave their cars at home. As the the numbers they are VERY TILTED in favour of east west – by a long stretch. If you include serving population concentration and growth – the numbers are even more right. East-West just has the numbers.

  2. Billy Bob Thorton

    Oh and you forgot the 416, Prince of Wales Drive, Riverside and the Airport Parkway as North-South routes.

  3. newfcollins

    The Airport Parkway turns into Bronson, which I mentioned. And I didn’t include the other roads because they don’t go downtown. It’s the same reason I didn’t include Baseline and Hunt Club as major east-west routes, because they don’t go into the downtown core.

  4. newfcollins

    Oh, as for the park and ride at South Keys, it is very well used. Just like the rest of the park and rides, it’s over capacity.

  5. blair

    Coun. Desroches is proposing the city offer his community a consolation prize for missing out on light rail during the first phase of the project — either bus improvements, a.k.a. a Transitway, or an extension of the O-Train.
    Is light rail the only solution for the currently small community of Riverside South? Keep in mind that by 2031 it is projected to still have a population much smaller than Kanata or Barrhaven.
    In your opinion how important should population density and projected ridership play in the decision to extend light rail?

  6. newfcollins

    Actually, by the time 2020 rolls around, it will be about 19,000 homes. If you have 3 people per household, that’s a population of 57,000. Or about the size of Kanata in 2001. Of course, back then, Kanata still had all the roads mentioned above in the post. But because the airport is in the way, the only way to get people out of Riverside South will be Limebank Road or transit.

    So imagine living in Kanata five years ago with only one road leading from there to downtown and no transit system. How backed up would that road be?

  7. Billy Bob Thornton

    In my opinion . . . once traffic becomes such a huge nightmare for the community of Riverside South people will stop moving there. People will buy and move into houses in other parts of the city where traffic is not such a huge headache.

    The population numbers will go down . . .

    The value of housing will depreciate enormously for this small group of houses out in the middle of nowhere and it will be handed over to Ottawa Community housing who will try and make it work for a while then they will bulldoze over the place and let it go back to being the beautiful environmental swamp land it was before people decide to build there (run on intended).

    Then Riverside South will go down in the annals of history of botched development projects gone bad because lack of existing infrastructure much like the Palladium or Mirabel.

    Or maybe some of us have already come to this conclusion.

  8. blair

    Kanata and Stittsville’s population is expected to almost double over the next two decades, increasing from 90,000 to 172,000 people by 2031.
    Meanwhile, Riverside South’s population of around — I think it’s around 7,000 people now — will increase to 40,000 over the same time period.
    Of course these are city projections — so you can debate whether they are too high or too low.
    If you accept those figures, Kanata and Stittsville will have a population four times the size of Riverside South.

  9. newfcollins

    Okay, so 40,000 people in Riverside South alone, with one road to get into the city and no transit. Think that sounds fair?

    Unless you think the city should be building more roads for people in Riverside South.

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