Park and Ride, here and there

There have been several stories in the media lately about park and ride lots here in Ottawa. The lots seem popular, and mostly over-used with late arrivals not being able to find a parking space. The first-come policy favours regular early morning commuters. The Ottawa lots are free. Well, not exactly free. They cost a lot of money to build, maintain, and patrol. But our municipal government doesn’t charge the users anything. It is therefore not surprising that they are full, as they are being sold (given away) wa-a-a-y below cost and wa-a-a-a-y below value. Things that are free are of course … Continue reading Park and Ride, here and there

Bus Depots are Dead, thankfully

City committees will shortly be discussing a redevelopment proposal for the site of the Voyageur Bus Terminal/Gare d’Ottawa. Alas, the development will proceed only if Voyageur moves out of the terminal. Bizarrely, some councillors and community activists want the bus station to stay on Catherine Street. They express concern for the price conscious users of the cheapest mode of intercity transport. I think their concern is misguided thinking that is twenty years out of date. In the old bus model, Voyageur had to have a terminal building for passengers to arrive early and line up for the bus. Passengers who wanted a good … Continue reading Bus Depots are Dead, thankfully

Bus route reassurance

OC Transpo introduces major route changes on Sept 4th. These little hang tags on bus stop signs remind users that this route will be changing. This is certainly a proactive reach-out, taking the message directly to the affected riders. The hang tags are suspended on plastic hangers, which, coupled with the low height of bus stop signs, makes them easy for vandals to swat off the sign. I have noticed a number of signs have only the little plastic loops on them; the advisory itself is gone. On routes that don’t change, there is a little sticker on the post that affirms … Continue reading Bus route reassurance

March of the High Rises

The City has recently seen a spate of high rise applications and project announcements. Claridge has a number of downtown high rises in the high 20- storey range: beside Bell Canada, on Nepean and Gloucester, and on Queen at Lyon (currently Barbarella’s and a parking lot). There are taller applications too. The first out of the gate* was Soho Italia, proposed for 500 Preston Street near Dow’s Lake. The Soho Italia structure is notable for several features: most of the parking garage is above grade (about 7 stories of it) clad in a perforated black metal screen; the building rises straight up occupying all of … Continue reading March of the High Rises

The devil rides Watson’s new LRT route

Warning: long post. Go pee or get your coffee before you start reading. After so much huffing and puffing, the City has detailed its final LRT route and station locations, and their costs, to Council and the Public. The most noteworthy change has been to move the tunnel from the “cross country” deep alignment under Albert Street, then Queen Street … to one that traverses the downtown always under Queen. I have read the available material from the City justifying the move. It is a very political document, light on the technical stuff. It’s way more PR oriented than the previous reports. … Continue reading The devil rides Watson’s new LRT route

Ontario Bike Summit, Day 1

The Ontario Bike Summit started Monday at the Museum of Nature, and continues on Tuesday. Bug Me, says Watson: What’s a public meeting without politicians to speak? This meeting opened with an abundance of them. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson spoke of the increased volume of cyclists (155,000 in May) and their increased visibility. Speaking of the Laurier Separated Bike Lane (SBL) he made it clear that he understood some cyclists did not like the project, but “they don’t have to use it”. It is designed to offer a safer route for cyclists, to encourage more cycling, and to facilitate tourists who cycle … Continue reading Ontario Bike Summit, Day 1

LRT Stations: (part iii) Bayview Station

The Bayview Station is quite complex to describe compared to Tunney’s or Hurdman. Basically, it is a long thin platform built atop an earthen embankment, pretty much where the bus shelters are now. But rather than have sloping pedestrian paths connect to the O-train platform about 16′ lower down, under the overpasses, the City proposes to build an escalator connection at the west end of the new platform that takes users directly down to the O-Train platform. This is a great development for users that transfer.  What complicates the Bayview Station is that it is in the middle of an … Continue reading LRT Stations: (part iii) Bayview Station

LRT Stations Revealled (part ii) Tunney’s Pasture

Tunney’s Pasture is the interm western end of the initial LRT system. At Tunney’s, riders will transfer from bus rapid transit on the transitway to LRT to go through the downtown and then on to Blair Road in the East. Tunney’s is the second largest employment node in the City, and will triple in size over the next few decades. At some point the LRT service will extend west of Tunney’s to Lincoln Fields and then out to College Square. The new LRT station will replace the existing bus station at Tunney’s, down in the cut. The train track will extend a few meters west … Continue reading LRT Stations Revealled (part ii) Tunney’s Pasture

Timing the OLRT

The was some good news on the LRT construction schedule last week. The City announced that the project could be finished a full year earlier than previously announced, ie spring 2018 instead of summer 2019. This is sleight of hand. The City attributes the shorter time line to various design factors. Instead of designing the system 100% in-house, they will do all the preliminary design and then outsource the detailed engineering to the winning bidder. This will allow the winning bidder, according to the city, to be more confident that the design is implementable and covers all the bases. They also have the … Continue reading Timing the OLRT

Western LRT (part v) Choosing the best route

The Western LRT study outlined in the previous posts assumes there will be a WLRT and a separate local LRT along Carling should one of the non-Carling routes be chosen for the WLRT. But could the two services be combined? If one of the northern corridors is chosen for the Western LRT, then the TMP identifies Carling as the route for a supplementary LRT corridor. Thus the political process has pre-selected the mode, it is up to the engineers to make it work and be financially viable. If Carling is the route of the Western LRT, then a supplmentary transit service would be required in the northern corridor, … Continue reading Western LRT (part v) Choosing the best route

Western LRT (part i)

Last week, city staff offered some briefings on the western LRT options. Recall that the current downtown Ottawa transit tunnel study, now renamed  Ottawa Light Rail Transit/Tunnel (OLRT), covers that portion from Blair Road in the east to Tunney’s Pasture in the west. However, the first components of the LRT system includes a service from Tunney’s to Lincoln Fields, but under a different Environmental Approval process. The western portion might be completed at the same time as the downtown portion, or shortly thereafter. City council directed that staff consider various options running west from Bayview Station (Council selected Bayview in order to include the O-Train corridor … Continue reading Western LRT (part i)

Electric bus

I was doing some browsing on the internet to look at bus and transit technologies. This is dangerous for me, as with little knowledge I can be easily mislead. But I did see a few things that interested me, and so I am sharing them here. Shanghai fast charge electric bus:  The bus charges at bus stops, when picking up passengers. A pantograph-like device rises from the roof to connect to charged overhead rods. The bus needs ten minutes to fully charge its batteries, which can be spread over several stops. In theory, the bus could run all day without … Continue reading Electric bus

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 … Continue reading Bus shelters vs a station for Bayview

OC Transpo planner grills audience

I went to City Hall last night to learn some more about the proposed bus route changes. There was a huge, vocal, and annoyed turnout. The questioning for Mercier and Deans and Transpo staff was tough. But half way through something totally dramatic happened. Unfortunately the Main Stream Media reporters had all got enough “angry mob” clips and gone home; leaving only bloggers to cover what really transpired. Read closely now, this has been a closely guarded story until now, when I share it with you alone. Pull your chair up closer to the screen, you’re still too far away. … Continue reading OC Transpo planner grills audience

A Modest Proposal for 2011

   Cities are organic creatures. They grow, we hope, as cities that decline are not exactly great places. We want growth, and new things, but want them somewhere else — easily accessible but not too close. I am getting tired of the litany of complaints about intensification. We knew when we adopted the policy that it had certain effects: house prices will rise; infill will occur in both small scale and large scale developments. Those new residents will use transit, and walk sometimes, but mostly will drive cars. Changing population demographics means new housing types are desired to meet new needs. Some … Continue reading A Modest Proposal for 2011

Boring information: read it here first

There are many ways to get information in the city. One is file freedom of information requests. Another way is to just ask the workers what they are doing. Each time I go by a new location with one of those boring crews drilling a hole into the street, I stop my bike or walk up and chat to the crew. What are you finding? Is it all limestone down there or are there soft spots? Can you identify fault lines and fissures? Any nasty surprises like big underground rivers? Vaults of money under the Bank of Canada building? Political bodies burried … Continue reading Boring information: read it here first

West LRT – the Loblaws option

David James is a blog reader with some keen observations on the merits of various DOTT and west LRT proposals. You will frequently find his intelligent comments on my posts, gently pointing out the error of my ways. David isn’t particularly a fan of the “Loblaws” route I outlined yesterday, but he kindly drew up a drawing illustrating the route, and provided some commentary on its merits. The top right of the illustration below starts the route beside the 30 storey condo tower Minto built a few years ago. Underground, it swings onto McRae, under the Loblaws parking lot, and westward under Byron Road or … Continue reading West LRT – the Loblaws option

West LRT, part iii, Ottawa River corridor

It might be best to read part i and part ii, already posted. If you are a keener, the comments received are also worth reading. Now, for part iii … The Bayview Station is located at the top right. It is a future transit hub, with service extending south along the OTrain corridor; north via the Prince of Wales Bridge (possibly as rail, possibly doubled in width as a STO rapibus BRT route with a station at Bayview); east to the downtown; and west to Barrhaven and Kanata. Usually ignored, is the walk-in potential of Bayview Station: because there are no houses immediately adjacent, in … Continue reading West LRT, part iii, Ottawa River corridor

West LRT, part ii: Carling options

  I suggest you read Part i — the previous post — before reading this part. Some points are valid from post to post, and it would be boring to repeat them each time. Reading the comments is also fun and educational. This review of the options always starts at the Bayview Station (top right corner), ie I talk from east to west. The O-Train corridor option uses existing transportation corridors to take the LRT south then west. It would bump the Otrain off its track, forcing it to terminate at Carling. This LRT option is unlikely to be selected as it has some severe engineering … Continue reading West LRT, part ii: Carling options

Public gets chance to Rescue Bronson

  This flyer is making the rounds of the west side neighborhoods abutting Bronson Avenue. The above photoshopped illustration shows just ONE potential way to improve Bronson so that it meets the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, adjacent businesses and residents, as well as motorists and commuters. There are alternative ways to improve Bronson so that it makes more people happy. Anyone who travels on or across that blighted street knows that the 1950’s thinking that gave us the current “four lane” urban arterial didn’t work. Yet Ottawa seems on the way to fifty more years of a disfunctional … Continue reading Public gets chance to Rescue Bronson

Western Leg, LRT (from Bayview to Lincoln Fields via ???)

The city has set up a stakeholders group to contribute to its process of finding how the LRT will get from Bayview (or Tunney’s) to Lincoln Fields. Options include the Ottawa River NCC lands, the Otrain-Carling route, the Churchill-Carling route, and the transitway-Byron route. All options have very different features for transit users and the adjacent communities. Continue reading Western Leg, LRT (from Bayview to Lincoln Fields via ???)