Bus stop; Bus stop, part v; what happens on the bus stays on the bus

Las Vegas is one big sprawling desert metropolis. Rapid transit such as LRT or subway is difficult to justify. Several monorail systems have been tried, but mostly they work to get riders from one casino to another of the same consortium, by-passing the casinos of competitors. And the routes go behind the buildings, away from the flashy strip where everyone wants to be. Casinos are all flash and fantasy; so is their rapid transit. If you can’t have trains, at least mock up the buses to look like trains. Funny thing is, just like the gaudy buildings are attractive (in … Continue reading Bus stop; Bus stop, part v; what happens on the bus stays on the bus

Bus stop; Bus stop, part iv: Seattle rapid transit bus stops

Seattle appeared to have local bus services (blue) as well as express ones (red) that ran with more limited stops between neighbourhoods.  These Rapid routes made it easier to go long distances in a very spread out city (remember, most of its growth has been in the automobile era, and thus is sprawly). The Rapid routes had their own bus stops, with distinctive red branding. Electronic boards informed passengers when the next buses would arrive, and their destinations. The yellow box on the post is a fare card reader. In Ottawa, we buy a certain amount of time on the … Continue reading Bus stop; Bus stop, part iv: Seattle rapid transit bus stops

Yet another Scott Street > transitway option

Recall that the current transitway, running in an open cut through the west side, will be replaced by rail tracks for the new Confederation Line LRT. There is a construction lead time to construct the tracks and the new stations at Tunney’s and Bayview and LeBreton, so the buses now on the transitway will have to be detoured during the construction period. Others are busy working on detours that do not involve Scott and Albert Streets. This is the second exploration  of how the detour could occur on Scott-Albert. (for the first option, see:       http:/www.westsideaction.ca/putting-the-buses-onto-scott-albert/ ; the comments … Continue reading Yet another Scott Street > transitway option

Side effects of the LRT construction

Assuming that the LRT project about to announced on Wednesday at City Hall won’t be saying “the bids were too high, and as your fiscally prudent mayor, I am therefore cancelling it” …I think we can assume it will be going ahead. To construct it, the City is applying to close part of Old Wellington Street. Finding Wellington is rather like searching for a moving target when it crosses the Flats. Recall that the current Wellington runs down from Parliament, past the Archives building, intersects with Portage Bridge, and swings through the Flats to cross Booth and Vimy and then … Continue reading Side effects of the LRT construction

Multi modal transfer station design

Ottawa will soon be getting a dozen or so LRT stations. We don’t know what the “final” design will be.  The PAC for those stations hasn’t met for months. I do hope it gets one last kick at the penultimate designs of the winning contractor. PACs can and do offer good advice, very practical, from the user perspective. Until then, here’s a look at the Hyannis MA multi modal transfer station. Located in the downtown (such as there is in low density America) on former rail yards, it has a passenger rail terminus, the inter city bus station for buses … Continue reading Multi modal transfer station design

Shake the planning etch-a-sketch: Build that LRT to Orleans, and charge them for it

Let’s shake the planning etch-a-sketch by building that LRT out to Orleans right now.  And charging them for it. The Sinkhole Incident on Hwy 174 has high lighted the lack of access to the former St Joseph d’Orleans. And its not just the lack of road access, it’s the lack of alternatives. If the sink hole happened on the road to Kanata, there are more alternative routes. The higher road capacity pushes off the breakeven point for extending LRT to Kanata. And remember, the nearest point of Kanata is further away than the farthest point in Orleans*. In this road shortage situation, Orleans … Continue reading Shake the planning etch-a-sketch: Build that LRT to Orleans, and charge them for it

Will Council give equal space to pedestrians?

The City engineers have  voluminous tables of how much space to allocate to motorists. They use these all the time, requiring developers to provide turn lanes, traffic signals, and road widenings, at the developer’s expense, as a required part of the building approval process. Yet we are seeing more and more new buildings with minimal parking, which means lots of dependence on pedestrian access to the building. These people have to move to and from the building on the sidewalks. Yet I don’t recall the approvals of the new high rises on Parkdale, or Preston, or Carling, or anywhere else, getting into the … Continue reading Will Council give equal space to pedestrians?

Distilling Our Lady of the Condos – part ii

Last winter, Domtar knocked down an elderly mill building on the Islands in the Ottawa River. Great consternation arose, as they did it Without Consulting the Bureaucrats. Priceless heritage lost! Like a dog with a bone, the media and planning pundits worried about the lost potential for a vibrant outdoorsy urban waterfront à la Granville Island or The Distillery in Toronto. Few people seemed to notice that Victoria Island is one of the windiest, coldest, bleakest spots in Ottawa, a far remove from sunny* Granville Island or the spirits factory in Toronto. Numerous calls were made for the Distillery Folks to come to … Continue reading Distilling Our Lady of the Condos – part ii

Toronto Now — Ottawa Later

Toronto has new subway trains, now. Ottawa will have its new LRT trains sometime in the future. What Toronto has now has certain similarities with what Ottawa will have in 2017 or 2018. Unlike earlier subway cars that were individual cars hooked together into trains, without any means for passengers to switch cars, the new train cars have open gangways. This is similar to how the articulated OC Transpo buses work. It means passengers can get on any car but then as passengers shift around, the load evens out throughout the train. Passengers feel safer, less “trapped” in one car. It … Continue reading Toronto Now — Ottawa Later

High rises: Gladstone southwards

Yesterday’s post covered high rise intensification — on an east-west axis — along the north edge — the Carling Avenue line — of our  community. Today’s post covers a north-south line drawn roughly along the OTrain cut from Gladstone to Carling. It is not clear if the drawing (second pic, below) puts the line along the OTrain cut or Preston Street itself. This post is somewhat speculative. Here is the area in Google Maps: Recall that there is a proposed LRT station on the OTrain corridor near Gladstone. Generally, the station is drawn running from Gladstone to the Queensway, with its north exit … Continue reading High rises: Gladstone southwards

Misc thoughts on the western LRT

The instant springing up of a “friends of” organization to oppose rapid transit is not unexpected. Everyone wants transit nearby but not too nearby.  Me included. At least one block over is just fine. Just like for arterial and collector roads. I think the City falls short in its communication of the LRT options. Many of the complaints about each proposed alignment are eminently predictable, or have been already expressed (repeatedly !) in the media. If I were running the show, these complaints / concerns would be addressed right up front, either acknowledged or countered. Instead we have endless rehashing of shallow comments. … Continue reading Misc thoughts on the western LRT

Major changes coming to downtown streets

The current downtown Ottawa is rather blah. Some might even call it bleh. Over the decades, it has become a motor-vehicle-oriented environment, with the fast movement of vehicles the main only priority. We all know about the walls of buses. And the priority given to automobile commuters over pedestrians. Trees: rare as hen’s teeth. It has become a downtown one goes to because you have to. It is not a shopping, or even much of a recreation destination. All rather sad. When the LRT is opened, there will be major changes. Most OC Transpo buses will be off the Albert … Continue reading Major changes coming to downtown streets

Not inspiring confidence

The City held an open house last night on the OLRT. There wasn’t anything new there that you wouldn’t know about if you read the papers and this blog. I did feel a sense of  insincerity about it though. Quickly announced, not much content, a quick visit from Hiz Honnor: I got the feeling the event was held so that some lawyer could point to it later on, at a hearing, saying “See, we had lots of public consultation, blah blah blah”. Rather more disturbing was the number of minor errors on the display boards. Many of them I have seen before, … Continue reading Not inspiring confidence

Phoenix LRT (part iii) The Video

Let’s go for a trip on the Phoenix LRT. The video at this link takes 10 minutes to play. The link may not be live, ie you may have to copy and paste to your browser. http://youtu.be/D3EANU4FmiI Leave the window size small, as the video is low resolution, taken from a handheld digital camera while sitting behind the driver. The Phoenix LRT is 20 miles long (32 km), and has 28 stations. It opened in Dec 2008. Ridership in 2011 averaged 40,600 pax per day. The peak day carried over 60,000 pax. The trains are two-car train sets, thus the … Continue reading Phoenix LRT (part iii) The Video

Phoenix LRT (part ii)

In the downtown Phoenix transit plaza there were these brightly coloured display boards. From a distance, I thought they were route maps or timetables. Upon closer inspection, they proved to be laser-cut metal sheets. Each one showed a subway or rail transit map from the major cities of the world. I felt a bit – discomforted – inspecting these. Was little Phoenix trying to cast itself in the Big Leagues, rather like Toronto (used to) cast itself as “world class” which simply proved it isn’t? Was it pompous? Or was it just Public Art? The station closeup (above) shows a number … Continue reading Phoenix LRT (part ii)

Phoenix LRT station designs

Phoenix has a somewhat different climate from Ottawa (why else would I go there in February?) and their LRT station designs have different functions. Mainly, they provide shade. The stations are simple raised platforms, about 16′ wide. Metal sails overhead provide dense shadows; tubes and fins provide dappled shade. Stations all along the 20 mile line were built on a common design.Most platforms had greenery, in the form of vines growing up between wire meshes. The mesh protects the greenery from damage, and provides support. Think of it as an ultra-thin hedge. Similar wire mesh fences have been installed between patios on … Continue reading Phoenix LRT station designs

OLRT to the Airport — Not

It appears the City of Ottawa is once again sloughing off easy expansion of the rail infrastructure in favour of more roads to the suburbs. Extending the O-train to Riverside South? Along an existing unused rail right of way? Where fields of houses are the main farm crop? Where long term plans call for rail eventually? Using the 3 Talent trains that are already on hand and soon to be declared surplus? Nahh, premature to consider such expansion. And of course, the line would go right past the Airport but not into it. Someday, there might be a shuttle bus from the airport … Continue reading OLRT to the Airport — Not

How to make a train out of a bus

As home to one of the few extensive bus rapid transit (BRT) networks in North America, we tend to forget what a marvellous system we have. Cities such as New York, which we yearn to emulate for its pedestrianizing activities, and its new bike ways, struggles to get bus lanes on regular streets let alone a bus-only road network such as we have in Ottawa. Our BRT is closer to a rail-transit network than the typical bus-on-streets-in-mixed-traffic that most urban transit systems are still stuck in. Our largely grade-separated transitway makes it frequently faster to take the bus than to drive a car, … Continue reading How to make a train out of a bus

Is it time for a Sparks Street bike mall ?

Late last year I wrote a two part post for www.SpacingOttawa.ca on the Downtown Moves project, a scheme aimed at improving the downtown pedestrian and cycling environment. This improvement is to make the LRT project work better by improving access to the stations; and to improve the downtown post-LRT implementation when the space currently occupied by bus movements will be much reduced. There were a lot of ideas in those posts, and some are worth elaborating on.   Today, can the Sparks Street mall be improved by making it a bike mall? Downtown pedestrian malls were all the rage a few decades ago. Some are still thriving; many … Continue reading Is it time for a Sparks Street bike mall ?

Building a better underpass

I snapped this pic while in Toronto a few months ago. It illustrates several bits of better transportation engineering than we are likely to find in Ottawa. First, notice the dark line down the centre of the lane. It is a painted-out white line that used to divide the road into four lanes, two in each direction. These would have been narrow lanes, especially narrow-feeling at the underpass structure itself. There was no accomodation for cyclists. The road has been dieted, and changed to one wider lane in each direction. Sailing through the underpass in a car was easy and … Continue reading Building a better underpass

Bayview Station (final)

The saga of the amazing perambulating Bayview Station is nearing completion. Recall that the station has been proposed in various scales, sizes, and locations. Well, the final plan is available exclusively to readers here. Bayview Station is back to being “on the structure” of the transitway bridge over the O-Train cut (yes, I know, the O-train isn’t in a cut, it’s on the level, it’s the road that is elevated, but  such is our road-focussed society that the road becomes the normal level, and the flat becomes the hole…). The new station is in the same style as the majority of other proposed LRT stations. … Continue reading Bayview Station (final)

Sim-City model: Bayview-carling CDP

The City has been sporadically doing up a CDP (Community Design Plan) (which is a plan of dubious effectiveness under the Official Plan) for the O-Train corridor running from Bayview Station to Carling Avenue. Residents frequently ascribe its tardiness to a desire on the part of the City to see all the developable land purchased and rezoned before the plan is drawn up. In that way, the city won’t have to continually amend it. The City is committed to having CDPs done for all the stations along the OLRT. Having seen some of the in-progress ones I’d have to say they are better than nothing.  At least they … Continue reading Sim-City model: Bayview-carling CDP

Planning the O-Train bike path

Okay, so it’s not really a “bike path”, the City doesn’t have any of those. We have MUPs, or Multi User Paths, which are shared by cyclists, dog walkers, parents with wailers, grannies with yappers, kids alone,  etc. (It makes an interesting contrast: on roads, cyclists are told to play nicely with cars, buses, and tractor-trailers going 70km; off road, cyclists are sent to play with various pedestrian folks). I’m on the PAC (public advisory committee) for the O-Train path that will eventually run from the Ottawa River pathways south to Dow’s Lake. The City will construct the section from Bayview Station to Somerset (or maybe … Continue reading Planning the O-Train bike path

Bike shelter at Bayview Station

OC TRANSPO has installed the new bike shelter at Bayview Station. It does not have a glass wall on the “back” side of it, but nor is the back side readily accessible for cyclists while there is loose dirt/mud. Presumably, if no glass back wall is installed, and the grass grows, some cyclists can use the rack from the back side but at the cost of losing out on the roof. Is it safe to suggest this is another one-sided front-in only bike shelter? In which case, it holds six bikes. After we spend millions on the new Bayview LRT and indoor-transfer-by-escalator to the … Continue reading Bike shelter at Bayview Station

How “secure” (or disruptive…) will the OLRT be?

        We are in the process of replacing the transitway with LRT. In the Scott Street cut, this won’t matter much. But at either end of the cut, it matters a lot. The City is preaching two totally opposed messages on how the track will interact with the community.  On LeBreton Flats, they claim that anyone getting near the tracks will be imminent mortal danger so great that six foot high chain link fences will be constructed on both sides of the tracks. For pedestrian safety, of course. So there will be no crossing of the tracks through the Flats.  City staff … Continue reading How “secure” (or disruptive…) will the OLRT be?