Mayor Jim Promises new Trains

Mayor Jim Watson today committed the City to expanding the not-yet-built LRT and the OTrain.

He promised that by 2023, the Confederation LRT line will extend from Tunney’s to Lincoln Fields, where it will split into a south line running to Algonquin, and a west line to Bayshore.

And, the Confederation Line will extend east from Blair to St Joseph to Jeanne D’Arc, then to Prom d’Orleans and Place d’Orleans (two separate stations with almost identical names). Also to be up and running by 2023.

He further promised expansion of the OTrain in that same time frame. There will be a new Gladstone Station, and the train service will extend on a rebuilt fully-grade separated track from Greenboro to South Keys to Leitrum and Bowesville.


This, of course, depends on federal and provincial cost sharing of the $2.3 billion design-build-maintain contract.

This announcement earned him a standing ovation from the assembled Councillors, most of whom he managed to call out by name during the speech, and the senior transportation staff gathered around the stage.

The audience did not give a standing ovation, perhaps thinking that the expansion was so logical and necessary the City could do little else, and so the expansion was expected.

Mayor Jim made a big deal of his success on the Confederation Line project by having a budget first, then build to the budget (rather than design the best line, and figure out how to pay for it). He praised his initiative in bringing in this new budgeting system, and announced other cities are copying it. (Having just read Margaret Thatcher’s biography, I recall that she fought the same battle in the 1980’s in Britain and was roundly vilified for it. Maybe Jim will do better; it is, after all, 30 years later.)

Watson also announced some extensions to the bus transitway system, to be self-funded by the City.

When complete, the LRT network will touch all four universities, most major shopping malls, and a bunch of high rise apartment complexes.

I notice there is a rather large gap between South Keys and Leitrum. That’s where the airport is. I hope this gap is temporary, pending details for an airport station, or even an off-airport-connect-to-shuttle-bus station.

17 thoughts on “Mayor Jim Promises new Trains

  1. The airport authority needs more time to make up numbers to show why a rail station would never work. lol

  2. The lack of an airport connection was my first observation. With a direct connection to the airport, the Bayview redevelopment would take on a very different spin, and I suspect we’d also finally get Gatineau buy-in for a train across the river.

    (Heck, even if Gatineau didn’t want it, Lotto Quebec would probably force the issue to get a train practically to their doorstep.)

    And on that note: I’m willing to bet that Hizzoner will make sure the Leitrim stop is conveniently located close to his friends at the Rideau Carleton Raceway.

    Now, if only there was some way to get mass transit to Lansdowne…

    1. Rapid transit to Lansdowne is physically simple. Run a surface LRT from Carleton to downtown replacing Colonel By Drive. Once downtown, run it down Sussex and over the Alexandra Bridge to Rapibus line in Gatineau. Mind, the NCC may not want to lose Colonel By. A more expensive option would be to bury it 3′ under the canal; follow the same route; put exit tunnels to each side of the canal at stations, and presto jimmyo, we’ve got rapid transit to the glebe.

        1. I’ve always thought of Queen Elizabeth as the solution, since it could also resolve the problem of a Carling at-grade line requiring two transfers to get downtown (Carling, Bayview):
          Turn right from Carling at Dow’s Lake, go along the Canal and finish (at least temporarily) at the NAC with a connection to both Parliament and Rideau stations.

    2. Or even the regular kind of transit: OC Transpo does a crappy job of allocating enough of the right-sized vehicles to the Bank Street routes.

  3. Although these extensions are clearly designed primarily for the suburban commuter, realistically, we knew that would be the priority. I’m just happy the timeline got bumped up as much as it did.
    Am I fool to hope that this will allow for more intra-urban rapid transit (Carling, Bank, Rideau/Montreal Rd., heaven forbid: Gatineau/Hull, etc.) to enter the conversation earlier? More specifically, rapid transit for the areas that are directly targeted for intensification.

    1. The plan to turn PoW Bridge into another MUP thing kills what little ambition there was in the Interprovincial Transit Strategy which was delivered, dead on arrival, just six or eight months ago.

      This suburbs-first plan will also take revenue off the table for decades, unless (pick at least two of the following): Ottawans get over their inherent cheapness, some resources are reallocated from road projects (shudder), or Ontario and the feds realize that Ottawa is in Ontario and Canada. There will be nothing left for urban transit; it will all have gone to suburban transit.

      So, Bank Street, Carling, Montreal-Rideau… Centretowners, Vanier, Lowertown and Sandy Hill East… get used to the buses. You’ll be spending a lot of time on them.

      The one outside possibility of more urban transit, other than buses, might be if an LRT project were magically funded and rolled into the CFB Rockcliffe project, but the current indications are that that project will be yet another god-awful, indifferent, suburb-in-the-city piece of garbage, and yet another wasted opportunity for some real urbanism in Ottawa, which aspires, more than anything else under the sun, to be a tacky, ugly suburb of itself.

      1. It depends how they “convert” the PoW bridge. It is possible to leave the track bed as is and add extenders to the side a la the Alexandra Bridge. That is something I would certainly get involved fighting for.
        As for timelines, I won’t prejudge the funding situation for transit 10 years from now. I’m just happy we get to start having the conversation/debate/fight 10 years earlier.

  4. Can someone provide more detail on which organizations, levels of government are advancing plans for the PoW as either an LRT link or as a MUP?

    I wish to push for the PoW as either an lrt extension or as a MUP but do not know where to go to add my support?

    1. I have inquiries in about the POW link, and will let everyone know what I find out probably by tomorrow. In the meantime, I recommend you do not hold your breath.

  5. When the original LRT was proposed it was said that the airport was not the least bit interested in having a link, as it would take away from their precious money-earning parking lots. Nice to know they may have changed their tune somewhat.

  6. I think people are forgetting to look at the whole plan here. The lines you are describing are all part of the “Stage 2” maps, not the “full network” maps. Those full network maps lay out the entire vision for the system beyond the next step. The full network still has a rail spur to the airport, has added rail service into Gatineau via the PoW bridge and still has a Carling LRT line. It also has a noticable increase in the number of BRT and bus friendly corridors throughout the inner-Greenbelt. What it has deleted is rail to Kanata, Barrhaven and the southern Orleans line (which will all remain BRT for the long term under these new proposals) – hardly putting the suburbs ahead of inner-Greenbelt communities.

    Make no mistake, with frequent two-way headways and all trains calling on all stations, this is full blown urban mass transit, not commuter transit as some are implying.

  7. “4 universities”

    What 4 universities? Did you mean 2 universities and 2 colleges? You believe Cyrville is close enough to La Cité Collegiale?

  8. TJ, I’m afraid this is commuter transit, not urban transit. If you read the Q&A in the Ottawa Citizen today, it is clear that the peak hour (suburban) commuter is still the target of this system. 15 minute off-peak service is not urban transit.

    The other nugget to be gleaned from that article is that if it’s not in Stage II, don’t count on it before 2048. Perhaps that’s some issues management, but it tells me that any projects – and there are few – that support intra-urban transit are really not considered important in this city.

  9. Erinn, you’re mixing concepts – mass transit still has huge spikes in demand at “rush hour” as commuters flood the system. Commuter transit implies trains only run downtown in the am peak, and back to the ‘burbs in the pm peak with no interest in serving the inner communities. This is not the case with what is planned.

    Also, I’m not sure where you are getting 15 minute off-peak headways from, but mid-day service on the new line is pegged at 5 minutes, 10 minutes in the evening, and only at 15 minutes during late-night service. 5 minutes mid-day, two way service is indeed mass transit.

  10. Re the Airport, it annoy me that all teh talk seems to be of a choice between having a “spur” or not. Why not have a line that stops at the Airport and continues to the South? This would require a trench through airport lands that crosses under the runway and taxiway – for example, in a straight line from just east of the terminal building to the intersection of Leitrim and Bowesville roads. It might be expensive, but it would at least be interesting to know how much it would cost. The City’s consultants and staff seem not to have bothered to even investigate this possibility – Instead, setting up the “spur” idea as a straw man option that they could point to as impractical, with the cheapo option that they wound up going with as the “only” alternative.

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