As a city, we lack much experience integrating medical facilities and transit.
The old Civic bus stops are way out on Carling Avenue, definitely not designed for user convenience, and co-located with year-round curbside puddles and offering free salt washes all winter. The building entrances focus on driveways.
At the General, the bus stops are functional, but take minimalism and isolation to new extremes:
The Health Sciences centre is designed for the convenience of motorists and transit makes do. And they don’t mind letting you know it.
If we are not careful, we will get exactly the same design flaws for the new Civic. Traffic engineers design for cars first. That is what they know and how they live. Bus stops and transit will be cast the odd pitying eye and placed mid block, well out of the way of anything useful. OCTranspo is so used to being bullied by the car traffic folk they voluntarily design that way now. They need to grow a spine.
At the new Civic, there is enormous potential for a transit hub at the northern end. Here’s the start, a median bus terminal proposed for 2019:
(the Carling bus transit work was covered in detail a few months ago on this site)
It’s a good first step, getting a safer bus stop closer to the Trillium line that goes straight through the centre of this illustration. But people still have to cross the street dodging cars or begging for a walk light.
(Motor dealers to the left, soon to become highrises; new hospital off to the right; note the Carling cycle tracks on both sides. The Trillium O-train crosses under Carling along the base of the picture)
The Trillium Line Carling Station is just north of Carling. It is to be integrated into the bottom of proposed 50,50, and 30 storey approved towers by Richcraft that replace the car dealership. Eventually, when double tracked, the new Carling Station will also be integrated with the Arnon properties (now a parking lot) on the west side of the cut (expect another bunch of tall towers). We can expect a LOT of traffic at Carling Station from the 48 stories of student residents, the 500 floors or more of apartments, the NRCan employees, and other residents and workers.
To be double tracked, a new train underpass under Carling will be required. This should be made wide enough underneath for transit users to cross under Carling Avenue in a station concourse (dismiss that dark dismal concrete tunnel image that comes to mind), accompanied by the multi user paths on each side of the tracks, and accessing the bus stop station in the median. This would do away with all at-grade street crossing hazards and delays and make non-car use attractive and competitive. (One may choose to keep the crosswalk arrangement in place too).
above: Blue dashed lines for MUPs and ped gateway to the new hospital; red circles show the existing plans for the Carling Station and 2019 median bus stop. Not shown: more station, to the south of Carling.
Several commentators on previous Civic stories debated relocating the final Carling Station to the south (Civic) side of Carling, for more convenience to the new hospital. Or maybe in the median, for direct connection to the bus transfer point. Do I want it north of Carling, under Carling, or south of Carling??
Here is an aerial view of Bayview Station. The red line is 320′ long. It runs from the pathway at the north end of the station, to the future south end of the Trillium Platform where there will be an exit eastwards via an elevated bridge into the proposed 900 Albert project by Trinity (3 – 50 stories buildings, grocery store, drug store, gym, mall, offices).
And here is the same 320′ line at Carling Avenue, which suggests a new station could be in all three locations at once.
If that sounds a bit wishing thinking, it is essentially what is being accomplished at the new Bayview Station where E-W transit connects with N-S transit below it, while pedestrian and cycle paths go every which way separated from roads. The under bridge spaces are likely to be quite open and, yes, pleasant. Bayview was put together in a rush, and with mistakes. But Carling Station complex will have the benefit of experience, it has to be designed as an attractive spacious full function space from the beginning, and not cheaped-out.
When one arrives by car at the front door of the General, or its Building C, there are eager greeters to help you in. They are very welcome. At the old Civic, you will find elderly greeters indoors once you get in. Neither place greets transit users. They may not even know you exist. Certainly there is minimal provision for your arrival.
At the fanciful Carling Station I outlined above, I think there should be at least an alcove with chairs and TV intercom connected directly to the hospital, where patients (and yes, patients will arrive by bus, or train, for blood tests, checkups, consultations, etc and maybe even the odd one with a broken arm or other illness) and visitors could call ahead, or even request a golf-cart pickup. If we can do it for airports, why not for transit and hospitals? If we want to be a transit city, and we want transit to compete with roads, we gotta provide the services. The integration. As for cost, I suspect there would be a large supply of retired folks happy to drive those golf carts on a volunteer shift once or twice a week.
On the south side of Carling Avenue, the under-Carling-Avenue-concourse could stay relatively level, entering the spine street that links the hospital modules. All weather protected, maybe even indoor. And at that southern end of the station, the MUPs would gently rise up to continue on southward as well as providing access to other points of the hospital complex. Eventually, when the hospital develops the current circular parking lot at the eastern end of the site, it too would be directly connected to all modes of active transport.
I cannot tell you how many times in the last six months I have heard hospital staff complain about parking costs (mind, I tend to start the conversations…) and why they find transit inconvenient and surprisingly, how willing people are to rearrange their life, over time, to favour easier and cheaper access. Hospital staff that makes their commute, and their life, easier are more likely to offer me good care compared to the abundantly stressed who drove in from Almonte or Pointe Gatineau. We do not owe people who choose to live far away or in awkward areas, free parking. Or even subsidized parking. Charge ’em, Dano. And yes, that means frail people who can only make it to the hospital by being driven door to door will also face cost recovery charges for parking.
To accomplish a
good great transit connection to the new Civic, it needs a “champion” working all the time on the hospital design committees. If transit is sloughed off as the usual after-thought, or left to public open house commentary, then we will get the mediocre-to-bad connections like we have at hospitals today.