A number of interesting changes and opportunities for west side bus routes are coming up in the next few years. Let’s play the bus route planning game!
The official plans: To “encourage” people to use the new Confederation Line, and to ensure ridership numbers are high, local bus routes will deliver passengers to the line but not downtown. So the No 85, now on Carling / Preston / downtown, will shift to Carling / Preston / Pimisi / Gatineau. If you want to go downtown, you’ll have to transfer to the train at Pimisi Station (formerly LeBreton Station). There, you just proved the popularity and success of the Confederation Line!
For buses from the west, such as the express routes and the 90’s, most will terminate at Tunney’s until stage 2 of the Confederation Line opens. Because it is frustrating for people to transfer twice in a short distance, until Stage 2 opens, every third (or so) 90’s bus will continue from Tunney’s to Bayview (for transfers to the Trillium Line) and then to Pimisi (last chance to transfer!) and thence to Gatineau. A number of 95’s do the afternoon commute this way already going from Gatineau / Pimisi / Bayview / Tunney’s / westward.
The STO factor: it was recently announced that to reduce the number of STO buses travelling through the downtown on Wellington /McKenzieKing / Albert / Slater, the STO buses from Gatineau coming across the Chaudiere will terminate at Pimisi Station (ancien LeBreton Station). This will also allow the NCC to reconfigure Wellington Street in front of Parliament to one lane in each direction and make it a complete street. Unsaid was just how the STO buses will terminate their route and turn around at Pimisi Station, which is elevated on the Booth Freeway bridge over the train tracks.
I speculate the buses will turn onto Albert and continue to the bus parking zone just east of Bayview Station*. This need only be in place a few years, until the Trillium Line finds left over Federal Liberal infrastructure money behind some seat cushions, to take the trains over the Prince of Wales RR Bridge to the Gatineau Rapibus station (and not to Terraces de la Chaudiere or PDP as the bridge connection is to keep buses out of the downtown not serve the convenience of Ottawans working in Gatineau).
(above: unused inter provincial bridge with the same people carrying capacity as the existing busy bridges…)
If the turning around STO buses instead continued along Albert / Scott to Bayview / Tunney’s, their passengers would have fewer transfers (like Ottawa is doing with 90’s buses from the west, but in reverse). Once at Tunney’s to turn around, they could carry passengers from there to Gatineau, thus turning their deadhead into revenue service. Transit riders would have more frequent service to Gatineau, or we could reduce the number of buses required for the service.
Of course, this would eliminate the “ridership” on the Confederation Line if those Gatineau passengers made Tunney’s without using the train. So I expect Ottawa will claim Tunney’s is too busy to handle the STO and gosh, golly, gee, those riders will just have to transfer to the Confederation Line and maybe one stop later to the Trillium Line.
So much of what will happen in the Tunney’s to Pimisi zone isn’t so much about convenience for riders, but the politics of who gets how many riders and the fares and what buses go where.
The Trillium Detour: While somehow the City and Province managed to expand the Queensway by at least one lane in each direction, plus replace a bunch of over passes, and a major bridge over the Rideau River, all without closing the freeway down for two years, is inspiring. And all with amateur drivers, bozos, and rubber neckers on the road.
So inspiring, they’re planning two closures of the Trillium Line, for about 2 years each, to upgrade it. It seems Professional Drivers just can’t compete with amateur car drivers.
Of course, the city runs on complaints, so maybe they are flying that two-closures-of-two-years flag just to see who complains, and then will discover, gosh golly gee again, that they only need a two month summer closure after all.
When the Trillium Line service is interrupted today, OC Transpo puts on a parallel bus route. It runs Bayview / Preston / Carling / Bronson, etc. When the bus is on Preston, especially the northbound segments, it is subject to queue-backs and traffic delays on that street. This costs taxpayers in the form of more buses and drivers to make the same frequency. This is the route they suggest they will use during the two detour periods.
Here is an alternative routing:
Buses from Carleton follow Bronson / Carling / Champagne / Bayswater to Scott to Tunney’s.
Southbound, the bus would go Tunney’s / Scott / Preston / Carling / Bronson.
Only going southbound on Preston would avoid the prevalent NB congestion. And NB bus on Champagne would provide evening and night service to residents of the ENVIE student housing, currently 18 floors in one tower, now growing to 48 floors of students when tower 2 opens). In daytime, those same students would catch the bus to Carleton on Preston.
By going all the way to Tunney’s, a whole bunch of multiple transfers could be avoided. Optionally, this would function equally well after the Stage 2 extension of the Confederation Line to the west is completed, as some Trillium bus passengers are going only one stop west to Tunney’s employment centre.
The City is reluctant to put additional stops on the Trillium bus route, keeping it as close as possible to a train on rubber wheels. Alas, that model ignores the route flexibility of buses and their ability to add or delete stops. And it perpetuates the limitations that come with the Trillium Line having fewer stations than ultimately planned.
So in my Trillium bus line detour, I’d put in some extra stops, just to see if they generate significant transfer traffic by upping the convenience of accessing the North – South train line. A useful experiment to measure additional traffic captured.
Those stops would be at Somerset, Gladstone, ENVIE**, and Bronson. Here’s a map with stops shown as little black circles:
Those additional stops are only 3, so it shouldn’t delay the route timing by much, and still save time compared to running NB on Preston with its endless tailbacks.
The biggest drawback with the scheme outlined above isn’t the saved travel time, or the saved cost, or the increased convenience and safety of transit riders and students, it’s that it puts buses onto a street with very affluent residents whose houses are well set back from the curb, and reduces bus traffic on the lower income Preston where the street curb is right on their doorsteps. Note that each side of the tracks is a different ward. In other words, NIMBY and politics.
Magic marker time: what would you do?
*STO buses could turn/park at the current bus layby lot near Bayview Station. By adding a bus stop, users could then walk into Bayview Station. Or a new bus layby could be built on the NW side of Bayview Station (off Bayview Road) thus bringing STO buses right up to the Bayview Station building on the lower level.
**the ENVIE stop is very close to Carling, which is a transfer point. So ENVIE is a bit optional for northbound daytime runs, but after 6pm, I’d definitely keep the ENVIE stop since many or maybe most of the Trillium users will be students. Vulnerable snowflakes and all that.