Wandering around the Flats — getting to Bluesfest via OC Transpo

Everybody going to Bluesfest this year with a pass / wristband can also use that as bus pass (to go anywhere on OC Transpo) for several hours up to festival opening time each day and during the festival event.

It will be interesting to see if that results in more people going to the festival by transit now that transit is included with their admission.

Here is a map of the Bluesfest 2016 site, note the main entrance, Gate 1, is at the centre bottom of the site plan:

bluesfest map 2016

Note also that the map actually shows Booth Street as closed (good !) and the direction towards the OC Transpo stops on the temporary transitway on Albert Street.

Of course, the walk from Albert out to Wellington Street (incorrectly called Sir JAM parkway on the Bluesfest map) is reasonably safe and direct, via a combined cycle path/sidewalk along the east side only of the Preston Street Extension. Some people do get impatient with those fences:


But once at the Vimy / Wellington / Sir JAM / Preston Extension intersection, the route becomes not terribly welcoming.

First, one cannot cross at the intersection, instead one must go east along the south side of Wellington to Booth, cross Booth eastwards, cross Wellington, cross Booth again this time westwards,  to get back to the Museum and Park side of the street, then return along Wellington to the midblock main entrance, at least half a kilometer longer than the directest desire line:

drawn route to bluesfest

The shortest desire line cannot be used of course, because the desirable directions have all been given over to car traffic first, and pedestrians get only the left over space.

And what attractive space it is.  Here’s the route as of Tuesday along the south side of Wellington, between zig zagging fences:


The fences along the curb are installed for Bluesfest. The fences along the  vacant field are NCC. They are bolted to the sidewalk:


Of course, it is vital to protect the weeds on the edge of the sidewalk, so the fences cannot be put on the dirt  topsoil:


And once the pedestrian traipses past the main gate that can be seen but not accessed on the other side of the street, there is the ordeal at the Booth intersection.

First cross the dead section of Booth (there is a light, but I’d cross anytime anyway, unless there is a dundridge traffic cop there at the time). Stop for a second to gaze southward along the new Booth Freeway roadbed, admiring the width, the grade, the shear effort required to get all those cars going from zero to 100 kmh in just one block. Sigh. Then cross Wellington (be sure to push the beg button). Then beg again, and cross Booth again going towards the Park. Then traipse back several hundred metres to the main gate you saw 10 minutes ago …

Mind you, crossing Booth was no picnic. Here’s the wide, safe, inviting crosswalk at Booth as of Tuesday pm:


Those fences simply cannot be put on the gravel of the new Booth Freeway roadbed, just in case some worker wants to come by and stir it up a bit during Bluesfest. But as it is, this isn’t the safest looking crossing due to its narrowness. At least there isn’t much traffic on the closed section of the new Booth Freeway.

Add 10,000 people going to the bus stop at 11pm, propelled by alcohol, and the going looks even less inviting.

It may be a bit better when the festival closes each night, since there is an exit only gate at the Vimy intersection …

Going east towards the downtown is an alternative exit route.

The sidewalk is fenced that way too, but somewhat nicer:


One can admire the wider sidewalks, granite pavers, fake racoon tracks, and neato wooden benches, that will be available for use at the 2017 edition of Bluesfest. Just not yet.

The NCC is still working on its multi-million dollar temporary landscaping installation to create a “Bold Drive By Experience” on your way to the downtown.


I realize running the city and a festival is complicated business. And getting bus transit included in the festival price is good. It would be even better if the way from the bus stop to the festival was a bit more welcoming and functional too. But maybe younger festival goers will all view the fenced mazes as a … game.



5 thoughts on “Wandering around the Flats — getting to Bluesfest via OC Transpo

  1. Some years ago I took my then teeange son (on his behest) to the fest. We took the busway bus from the now defunct Campus Station directly to near the fields. It was a great idea and worked very well both going and coming. ( I have to admit I did prevail with my idea to leave early so as not to be in the throngs ) . Walking in the “desire lines” was easy as informality as to pathways was the order of the day. But alas construction has taken over, all over town, and now we have to put up with “desire lines” figured on a plan by draftspersons miles away who have likley never attended an event in the area.

  2. It’s a lot of walking! I can imagine the plight of Bluesfest goers with mobility issues. What I would do is take bus number 8 going north from Albert and Preston to the War Museum stop on Booth Street and walk back to the entrance. OCTranspo should have shuttle buses doing this, what with the extra money they receive from the ticket prices. I won’t be attending this year because when I looked at the schedule all the musicians I want to see are on stage for just one hour and fifteen minutes. With the surcharges added the price for a one day pass is almost $70- too much for what I call a mini-concert.

  3. Eric, you have failed to take into account is the plan, developed by the host of sociology majors (after all, there aren’t enough jobs in social services for all of the sociology graduates) to train all pedestrians to walk along the meandering routes selected for them. These sociology majors are currently testing the effectiveness of their plans on water, which we all know only flows along the exact path chosen for it by planners.

      1. Glen, the likelihood of success in training the pedestrians to walk on that water is not materially different than their chances of getting the pedestrians to follow the convoluted route laid out for them.

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