Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ottawa Transit Planning: The Long and Winding Road

Ottawa city councillors are going to talk some more today about transit plan options. There was a town hall meeting last night at the Hintonburg Community Centre were the general pubic got to voice their concerns about various aspects of the plan.

Lots of people think having light rail along the Ottawa River Parkway is an eco-hostile idea. I suppose it would depend on the approach.

For sure, any plan that increases bus lines is not a good idea. Rail, whether on the ground, above the ground or underground is where the future of Ottawa transit is. If you look at the best, most efficient transit systems in the world (Tokyo, London, Paris, Chicago, New York) its subways and elevated rail that allow them to be cost-effective, efficient and integral to the life of the city.

Also, Ottawa shouldn’t spend any money on extending the transitway beyond the greenbelt. We don’t want to encourage more urban sprawl. As I mentioned in a previous post, suburbs can’t sustain their current configurations forever.

In the US there has been a New Urbanism movement since the 1980s promoting the redesign of suburban infrastructure, based largely on European models. The idea is to incorporate things like shops, small and larger businesses, parks, recreational and cultural facilities within existing suburbs, making them more walkable and eliminating car dependence, long commutes, highways, etc. Park & Ride options could be considered for those who need to work in the city core.

In essence, suburbs will become small towns/communities within themselves. This New Urbanism is making its way to Canada and eventually even Ottawa. That will change transit needs. Wouldn’t it be cool if this city had the foresight and imagination to lead the way on this movement, beginning with a really visionary transit plan?
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For more opinions/ideas/discussion on this topic, see:
http://www.ottawatransit.ca/
http://www.otra.sandelman.ca
www.piepalace.ca/blog/2008/03/ottawas-transit-plan-critique.html
http://www.cutaactu.ca/en/home

4 comments:

Jazz said...

God knows Montreal is pathetic too. An effecient rail system would be brilliant. Last summer they opened a St. Jerome-Montreal train line, and the train didn't fit properly on the rails (or some such idiocy)and so the train can't go more than 30 km an hour - of course that may have been fixed by now. We can only hope

XUP said...

Jazz - ha ha - that's crazy and I can totally see that happening here.

A Happy Downtowner said...

Toronto is no better. I would love to see a train system to make it to the airport and it will happen but not for another, oh 10 yrs maybe?

GO Transit (I think it's GO, brain fart here...) added some double decker buses but the second floor is so short, anyone over 5'11" won't fit!

I'm all for improving transit in the burbs and what they want to do, create "mobility hubs" (fashionable word in the consulting world) but each is independent from the other, the ticket in Toronto won't get you anywhere in Mississauga for example. Why not combine the two fares? so stupid...

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