Buses in the downtown in LRT era, part ii, OC Transpo

So, having seen in Part i, what is planned (subject to change) for STO buses in downtown Ottawa once the Confederation Line LRT opens in or around August 2018 … let’s look at the OC Transpo routes.

These OC Transpo route maps are very much a moving target. There are lots of versions floating around. They are public info, so presumably the powers that be want (some of) us to look at them, and maybe even have an opinion. Maybe I should delete that last sentiment. Let’s just say they are around.

The principles behind the new routings are also known. The planners want every route to connect directly to a LRT subway station entrance. Without passengers having to cross a street. A noble goal, for sure. But there are only two downtown stations, with four entrances in total … so there is some competition for space. (Note I left Rideau Street out of the count of downtown stations, but it is covered in all the maps below). And in my opinion, if STO passengers got on or off their buses on the Lyon Street side of Tower C, Place de Ville, I’d consider that close enough to the subway station on Queen Street, especially since there is a staircase down to the Place de Ville underground mall and its station entrance, right there at the corner (no elevator there now, though, only stairs).

As a result of the competition to get all the buses to the front doors of the subway entrances, there are too many bus movements to fit on the very short north-south blocks, such as for buses that need to go north on Kent between Albert and Queen. And move from the right curb lane to the left curb lane at the same time. Put two articulated (long) buses trying that manoeuvre at the same time and there might be … congestion. Ergo, bus routes get distributed around many different streets … which has its own set of consequences.

I suspect there might be some equipment-type restrictions for some routes, ie some routes will be allowed to utilize articulated buses, some short buses, and some only double deckers (because they are short and high capacity, although not well suited for stop and go inner city traffic like the No 11 route). Maybe that is why so many double deckers show up on No 11 these days, checking to see if they will work with granny going up the stairs on West Wellie Street.

Another significant new feature of the LRT-era bus routes is the Waller Loop. Several routes will go east on the MacKenzie King bridge, and after stopping at the Rideau Centre/DND complex, they will continue to the existing transitway stop at UOttawa (on Waller Street), then turn right, right, left to go around the Waller southbound-Nicolas northbound Loop…

(above: drawing from Albert-Slater study in progress, Nov 2017, subject to change)

Put your finger on the MacKenzie King bridge in the top left corner, in front of the DND building / Rideau Centre bus stop. The text on the map says “bus flag” (ie, bus stop). Run your finger to the right, along MacKenzie King. While the map shows Nicolas Street southbound, that is really one level below the bridge and there is no intersection here. At the real signalized intersection just ahead, some buses will turn sharply right in the right turn lane as shown with black arrows, and then follow Nicolas southbound. Some buses will go through the MacKenzie King signalized intersection and veer right onto Waller, stopping at the UOttawa transitway station, where there is a Starbucks right at the platform on the edge of the Desmarais building.

Apparently there isn’t enough length in the block nor intersection capacity to run every route past this bus stop, but some buses will. This is a blessed improvement over earlier plans to eliminate this stop, forcing UOttawa students to walk across a bunch of dangerous intersections to get from the Rideau Centre bus stop. Car and truck traffic on Nicolas will also flow better when it won’t have to dodge (so many) students all over the pavements.

Note that the City took out the shelter on the east side of Waller back in June 2017, even though this stop will continue in use for another year. Never mind, its good training to have newbie bus patrons waiting in the rain and snow. Builds future clientele loyalty. I have no idea if the shelter will ever return.

Missing shelter at UO. Photo by Richard Eade.

Well, actually I know that according to the plans the shelter probably won’t be there past August 2018, as the City plans to turn the current northbound transitway lanes along this section of Waller into bus storage bays before their actual routes start.

Look more closely at the Waller Street plan shown above. Note that southbound buses have separated passenger loading zones, each with a distinct bus stop sign. So it looks like students will sort themselves out along a block-long platform to catch the right bus at the right stop. For students who have the option of taking two or more bus routes … they’ll have to sprint along the platform or make due waiting for the “right bus”. Don’t spill your Starbucks.

But on the northbound side of Waller, shown in the plan above, there is a confusion of a centre of the road curb median, bus stop bays that look like bus stops except there are no passenger platforms, and the curb lane seems to be the straight thru lane. Or maybe that east side “priority lane” isn’t for buses, but is for cyclists on a new MUP.

BTW, does anyone else have doubts about how well buses will be able to leave the Starbucks stop and once they turn onto (congested) Nicholas get from the right lane to the very short left turn lane to get onto the Mackenzie King bridge going west into the downtown?

Now, with all that being said, lets look at the OC Transpo route maps … those are in the next story…




4 thoughts on “Buses in the downtown in LRT era, part ii, OC Transpo

  1. I’m assuming Waller between the Mackenzie King Bridge and Laurier will be narrowed to 3 lanes. There is supposed to be a MUP connection on this block. South of Laurier there will be a MUP that will run parallel to the Confederation line as far as the train station. The Waller Transitway block is needed to provide a connection from that MUP to the Mackenzie King Bridge. The diagram above even shows a future MUP connection.

    I suspect that if there is a layup area for buses, it will be on the east side, but the buses will be pointing south. When it is time to go they will look around on Nicholas to the Mackenzie King Bridge. Removing 1 lane should be enough to make room for the MUP.

    1. Brad: thanks for pointing out the MUP on the east side of Waller. The city drawing does show the MUP as the east-most “priority lane” (which I had read as a bus lane) and three lanes of buses on the street. This raises doubts in my mind as to whether there are any northbound buses on this block at all — maybe they are all going south, ie 3 lanes southbound, with there being additional bus storage. It is so hard to tell when the drawings show both old and new designs at the same time. It is an interesting block to watch as the plans evolve.

      1. That’s exactly how I think it will work- Waller will be 1-way southbound. That’s why the maps shows that all northbound buses use Nicholas.

  2. This is my statutory objection to the use of the term “West Wellie Street”. It is “Wellington West” or “WelliWest” if you wish to shorten it.

    (This message brought to you by your friends at Wellington West Business Improvement Area.)

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