Bus shelters vs a station for Bayview

 The picture below shows the current Bayview Station. It is simply a bus shelter on a hill in the middle of a field. It’s been that way since 2001, and while not ideal, it does function.

The City is currently designing its transit stations for the new LRT network. For the first few years of the Downtown Ottawa Transit Tunnel (DOTT) process, they had very elaborate station design for Bayview. It was a long elevated structure with east-west trains on top, and underneath was a second set of platforms for the successor to the north-south LRT that would someday replace the O-Train. Until that replacement occurred, the O-Train could continue to stop at its own station under Albert Street, albeit one accessed with escalators and elevators and weather-enclosed platforms.

DOTT version of the station, c2009
Bayview station proposed c2009

There were a number of very obvious problems with this design. First, it was very elaborate and expensive, I could not imagine the City actually building it as proposed. Especially since it is designed in considerable part to service a neighborhood that is not yet built. This ain’t the Glebe. While it is correct to design for the future, and for future development to be constructed taking full advantage of the proximity of the station, it also means building something for future voters, and council is much more concerned with delivering goodies to the current voters.


So I wasn’t surprised back in January when I caught a quick glimpse of a revised station proposal for Bayview. The new station was much more modest, but still with an enclosed platform and elevator access from the O-train level. It would essentially lay the LRT tracks on the current transitway alignment, reusing the existing bridge over the O-Train track, and build the station on the ground.   The City wouldn’t let me have a copy of the proposed station, but when I saw Peter Raaymaker’s photo of Longfields Station at http://www.transitottawa.ca/, I thought it looked awfully familiar. It makes sense that the LRT station team would adapt from the latest transitway station designs.

Other aspects of the proposed station for Bayview were awful. They proposed a large “kiss-and-ride” drop off zone and a taxi stand. Such a facility makes sense in the ‘burbs, but not in a dense downtown neighborhood.  The current drop-off layby built on Albert (with space for two cars) is more than enough. Furthermore, the proposed location for the kiss and ride is also the location the Carling-Bayview CDP plan shows as an intense Transit-Oriented-Development (TOD) building. Which of these two land uses is better for transit and a livable city?

 While I know the Bayview CDP planners have been consulted by the Bayview station designers, their plans strike me as seriously at odds. Some of this relates to the station designers clearly being unfamiliar with the area, designing it from paper maps and plans rather than any on-site data. For example, they are designing the station without any traffic count of how many people walk in to the station now. Nor did they have estimates of how many will walk there when the new buildings are built and occupied. They don’t propose any improvement to the narrow sidewalks where Albert goes over the O-Train cut. Nor are they doing anything to connect the Albert Street multipurpose path (bike path) on the north side of Albert to the Scott Street path, frustrating the BikeWest proposal for a downtown-to-Westboro off-road bike track.

Instead, they view it primarily as a transfer station. My suggestions that there be a genuine public consultation with the adjacent neighborhoods and the people that actually use the station has thus far been ignored. Maybe, just maybe, the “public consultation” phase, whenever it comes, will be more than a “there it is, it’s too late to change it” charade. Otherwise, we run the risk of getting a multi-million dollar station that underachieves.

 The Bayview CDP is not without its problems. It proposes a lot of intense urban building around the station. This would include two office towers on the south side of Albert (the area is now a hole, owned by Phoenix) in the 25+ storey range, plus the developments proposed for the City Centre site. Alas, the tallest buildings are closest to the station, which makes some sense, but also ensures that only the front row buildings get the fabulous river views. Ironically, the sketchups of all the tall buildings are like a bagel: there’s nothing in the middle. The most accessible, most transit-friendly area, where density should be highest, is proposed as a …. one storey transit station. The adjacent developers get building rights, the city gets nothing but an expense.

At the least, the station needs to be designed so that a building can be later built over it, and the city can recover some of its transit costs through selling the air rights.

 One concern I have right now is that the proposed Bayview station will be just large enough, just fancy enough, just expensive enough,  just good enough for the next half century. And thus the eventual replacement of the low rise station with a real TOD will be put off.

For that reason, I think we might be better off simply replacing the current bus-shelters-in-a-field station with more bus shelters in a field. At least that will cause every planner and developer to lick their lips and salivate over the opportunity to design the Bayview residential area, or the new Science museum, or the next condo or office development, with an integrated station befitting the neighborhood.

Sometimes, temporary is good.

City transit planners are convinced that this substandard sidewalk on Albert Street will be an attractive pedestrian access to their new Bayview Station

 For keeners, here is a link to a Chinese TV show. At about minute 2 there is an extended scene taking place on a LRT. I like this clip because it is not a wow-golly-gee promo clip, it purports to be a real life TV episode. It must still look really futuristic and glamorous to rural and small town Chinese. Or to Ottawans. http://tv.sohu.com/20100621/n272957944.shtml Note it may take a minute or more to download, but it is fun to watch. Note also how basic the transit station is.

8 thoughts on “Bus shelters vs a station for Bayview

  1. Is the public consultation phase ever more than a “here it is, no time to change”? I went to teh Bank Street reconstruction open house, and their plans were so detailed that it is obvious nothing could really be changed.

  2. Didn’t the city (or the feds) say that the removal of the community at Lebreton Flats 50 years ago was a temporary move?

    The kiss and go idea is horrible. It will let civil servants drive in the the diamond lane as they come in from the suburbs, drop off the partner that works in Hull, and then drive solo to their downtown parking lot. Keep the kiss and go stations out side of the city core.

  3. Kiss and go woud be a great addiition – if the train went to the airport (as it ought to).

    There’s tremendous N/S potential for the O-train, from a rapid link to the airport to adding capacity across the river. And overcoming Gatineau’s objections would be trivial – plop a stop across the street from the Louis St Laurent building, and you’ve got Quebec’s provincial government onside – since it would double as a rail link to the Casino.

  4. Regarding the N/S rail:

    I agree it has all kinds of potential. But why have it terminate at Bayview or ‘only’ go over the river? Why not have every second train continue into downtown via the tunnel. Many of the transit systems I have ridden on run multiple trains/routes through the same tunnel. Have a close look at Washington DC’s metro. They have a 5 -line system that actually only uses 3 tunnels since the yellow and green lines as well as the blue and orange lines share tunnels.


    The London Underground, Paris Metro and many, many others have routes that share tunnels. So, if you are at the Rideau Centre, underground in the station, trains will come twice as frequently. Heading west, one will say “Tunney’s Pasture” on the front of the train over the driver, and the next to come along would say “South Keys” (or, ideally “MacDonald – Cartier”).

    If you were standing on the platform at Carleton U heading North, one train would say “Blair Road” and the next would say “Casino”. Trains would come twice as frequently though the ‘core’ of the system and people wouldn’t have to change trains at Bayview.

  5. Longfields Station looks to be continuing in the Transitway’s grand stations-in-the-middle-of-field tradition…

    Why we keep getting this is because we keeping assigning the wrong people to do transit planning. Instead of hiring planners who have been through planning school and have been trained to take into account multiple disciplines when planning, we separate out transportation planning from all other planning and hand it over to engineers with no particular training in transportation planning other than the ability to design roadways. In some cases they might subcontract planners, but that’s emblematic of the problem – it should be the other way around.

    As for the northward O-Train linkages noted above, there has never really been any objection from STO on extending the O-Train into Gatineau – so long as the purpose was to transport Ottawans to Gatineau along with any Gatineauois not headed into downtown Ottawa (e.g. those who are going to Tunney’s or Confederation Heights). What they do not seem to want is to use the O-Train in its current guise to replace their buses headed directly downtown. For the STO, any bus replacement must go downtown. Unfortunately, this specific objection has time-and-again been generalized by Ottawa officials into a reason why the O-Train should not be extended north, despite the fact it would still save us buckets of money and reduce the number of Gatineauois using our roads to go to destinations elsewhere in Ottawa.

  6. Don’t worry about the sidewalks on the Albert Overpass, they should allow people to access the Bayview station from behind the Tom Brown Arena or from near Merkley Supply. They could put in paths to access the O-Train and the Transitway, thus connecting Hintonburg to rapid transit.

    It sucks walking next to a road in the middle of winter with tons of slush or in the rain with big puddle, just to talk a bus a few stops into downtown…

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