At last week’s transit committee meeting I gather the City announced it will continue to run buses through the downtown on Albert and Slater for three weeks after the LRT opens.
Alas, there were no other details released about this alarming proposal.
Why is alarming? Because for a certain percentage of users from the west end suburbs (Kanata, Barrhaven, and points west of Tunney’s) the bus may actually be faster than the first phase of the LRT. Estimates of time savings on the new Confederation Line are based on actual travel times today, factor in frequent bus jams, winter snow falls, etc. The longer the distance the passenger rides on the LRT, the more likely they will have time savings.
So for the folks from Orleans and points east and south, it is worth the transfer time at Blair or Hurdman to get on the LRT and have the dedicated route for some kilometres into the core.
But users from the west temporarily transfer at Tunney’s (until the line is extended further west), which isn’t far from the downtown.
Riders who transfer to the LRT at Tunney’s have to get off the bus, walk into the station, descend, have a wait time for the next train.
Riders who don’t transfer, may still have continuous bus service to the core, stay in their seat, and are merrily on their way in a mostly empty bus. Even with traffic on Scott, Albert, and Slater, their ride will be quick. Depending on where they work, it is easy to imagine their ride and walk to work will be faster on the bus than the LRT. The advantage decreases with the longer the bus ride is, so trips to Ottawa U destinations aren’t likely to be faster, nor will points further east.
I fully expect the alarmist mainstream media will be out in force on the first days of the new Confederation Line. Some reporters will be gathering comments from folks at stations, who will invariably have a mix of WOW and I’m CONFUSED / LOST , and IS THIS ALL WE GET? comments.
The main stream media of course thrives on bad news, not good news, so some reporters will be out at the bus stops to interview those who claim their trip was faster “the old way” on the bus. This will lead to head lines about “$billions for what??” Lost in all that will be the faster trips without traffic congestion, especially on those days with gridlock.
Rather than running all the buses from the west through the downtown to the east, I’d rather see the system run like this:
Travellers from the west end arrive at Tunney’s Station. All passengers alight. The bus returns to the west end to pick up more people.
Most travellers will descend onto the Station platforms, and catch the next train, at the 4-5 minute intervals it runs.
Those who are afraid of the train, or tunnels, or new-fangled technology or even just afraid there wasn’t enough testing, would walk over to a bus shelter and there await a bus that follows the old route eastwards. These buses could come at about half the frequency of the trains.
That would provide the alternative bus service some riders might want in the transition period, but avoid inviting negative publicity.
After the transition period, tunnel avoiders will be able to catch the #11, #16 and maybe some other buses at Tunney’s the go east into the downtown.
But if the plan is to run all the old bus routes into the core during the first three weeks, the City is simply inviting bad publicity from the media and the office attention-seekers who will claim to have “timed” the old and new and thus spark negative stories.
note: travellers from the west end that plan to transfer to L2 at Bayview, or go to Hull via the Chaudiere Bridge, will have direct buses from the west at select departure times so they won’t have to make two transfers in a short distance.