Submission from David P. James

From: David P James <>
Subject: Downtown Rapid Transit Network
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2008 15:51:33 -0400
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Overall, the options that have been presented are very disappointing and 
are a sort of "two steps forward, one step back" improvement on the 
current TMP. They all represent a very limited vision for the transit 
network in Ottawa in the next 20+ years, despite spending a minor 

The 'Options':

Options #1 and #2 are not even viable since a tunnel operating with the 
volumes of buses anticipated is not even feasible. 14-16 second 
headways are unrealistic when station dwell times will exceed that time 
by a considerable margin, especially if the effective number of 
stations is reduced (Bay, Kent, Bank, Metcalfe, McKenzie King, Laurier 
& Campus (7) reduced to Lyon/Kent, Bank, Metcalfe, Union/Rideau & 
Campus (5)), thus putting more pressure on the remaining stations. 
Options #3 and #4 might represent a starting point towards an improved 
network, but as a vision of what the network should look like in 2031 
they are inexcusably limited - they are a closer approximation of what 
it should look like by 2013, not 2031. Therefore, no option is 
particularly good, with options #3 and #4 "winning" by dint of being 
less bad.

General criticisms and suggestions

We should be looking at a network where light rail extends to all four 
of the extra-Greenbelt suburbs well before 2031. Baseline to Blair is a 
good starting point, and it is commendable that Transitway conversion 
is finally on the table as a serious option, if about a decade late. 
But it's only a starting point. Extending light rail to Bayshore in the 
west and through the Smyth Road hospital corridor in the east should be 
the first priority once Blair to Baseline is complete. Many of the bus 
transitways listed should not be built as such but rather as light rail 
transitways. For example, there seems to be very little reason to build 
the Cumberland Transitway as anything other than a light rail 
transitway. Indeed, there is compelling case to build the Cumberland 
Transitway as light rail all the way to Trim Rd before converting the 
East Transitway to Blair since doing so will relieve much of the 
pressure on the latter and facilitate its conversion.

I also notice that many of the secondary or "urban transit" corridors 
that are part of the current TMP have been reduced to grey arrows 
denoting "Future Urban Transit" - i.e. post 2031! There is no good 
reason that most of these corridors couldn't be in service by 2031 and 
their transit mode should be decided (as in the current TMP) now. In 
particular, the Carling Avenue and Rideau Street corridors are of 
concern since they go through downtown, a fact that can influence the 
decision of whether to go with a tunnel, and, if so, when.

Indeed, the entire tunnel question has been treated as a foregone 
conclusion. Calgary still has plenty of life left in its surface LRT 
system now that they are lengthening the stations for 4-car trains, and 
that is for a system that already carries more riders daily than does 
the Transitway. I don't dispute that we may one day require a tunnel, 
and it would be prudent and wise (and good planning) to plan for such 
an eventuality in the immediate future, but whether we need one right 
away is an altogether different question - a question that was 
indirectly answered in the section on surface options:

> Surface Options
> An LRT-only option would require:
> - Single car LRT operating every 36 seconds (not practical);
> - 3 or 4 car trains operating every 1.8 to 2.5 minutes (practical);
> and
> - 3 to 4 car trains require 90 to 120 metres of platform at 
> stations.

For example, it may well be the case that 3-4 car trains operating on 
the surface would be sufficient for 15 years and would be available for 
use much sooner than a tunnel. Of course, that leads to an obvious 
question: what to do with the surface LRT once a tunnel is in place? 
There seems to be a one-or-the-other thought process with respect to 
surface vs subsurface LRT downtown. Well I refer back to my earlier 
point about the unmentioned "Urban Transit" corridors, particularly 
Carling-Rideau. This corridor would go downtown but it may not make 
sense to insert it into a tunnel. It might well make more sense for it 
to go on the surface downtown. We would then have the genesis of a 
solution to our tunnel vs surface question: do both but only do each 
when it makes sense to do so. The implementation could look something 
like the following:

1. Construct surface LRT from Bayview to Hurdman, and implement diesel 
light rail extensions south (Leitrim, then Airport and Riverside 
South), southwest (Barrhaven) and west (Kanata) so as to relieve 
pressure on the Transitway during conversion while releasing more buses 
immediately for more frequent suburban feeder service.
2. Convert Transitway from Baseline to Blair, or better yet, Baseline to 
Bayview and construct Cumberland (light rail) Transitway to Trim Rd.
3. Complete conversion of Transitway from Bayshore to Lincoln Fields, 
and from Hurdman to Blair
4. Begin planning/design work for the tunnel and for the Carling-Rideau 
tram line
5. Carry out further extensions of light rail transitway to Kanata, 
Orleans, Riverside South, etc.
6. Build downtown tunnel and Carling-Rideau tram line
7. Once the tunnel exists, switch Transitway trains into it and the 
Carling-Rideau tram can use the surface tracks. The interconnections on 
either side of the tunnel between the two sets of tracks can be left in 
place for use in emergencies or for periodic tunnel shutdowns, etc.

I have plenty of other concerns with the options that have been 
presented, especially the vehicle costs (based on my knowledge of 
Calgary's CTrain network, only about $300M of the $1.3B or so set aside 
for vehicles is needed to buy sufficient light rail vehicles) but even 
some of the bus transitway costs that have been quoted in the Citizen 
seem excessive (i.e. $400-500M for the Cumberland Transitway between 
Blair Station and Trim - how does one manage to spend so much on a 
practically empty corridor? digging an entire new trench to rival Scott 
Street perhaps?).

I also have concerns with the entire process in that so little has been 
examined. The options don't even convert the entire Transitway within 
the Greenbelt, never mind extending light rail across it. There is 
nothing in the way of phasing or what options are available for 
immediate implementation. In particular, there has been no discussion 
or apparent consideration of the use of diesel or other autonomous 
light rail vehicles on existing tracks to serve people outside the 
Greenbelt. Citizens have not been asked if the requirement to transfer 
at Bayview is a reasonable trade-off for having an improved ride for 
most of the journey and to deliver immediate benefits rather than 
having nothing much for (apparently) a generation. What of looking into 
the acquisition of dual-mode vehicles, as recommended by the Mayor's 
Task Force, once a tunnel is in place? These options or entire areas of 
discussion have been simply excluded and the result is an 
unsatisfactory set of limited options to choose from.

David P James
Ottawa, Ontario