Submission to City's '4' transit 'plans'

From: David Jeanes To: Subject: Comments on the City’s 4 transit plans.

Submitted at 15:59. Only spellchecked visually. Some errors missed. Receipt of feedback was confirmed.

David Jeanes


There has to be a “None of the Above” option, for this to be a valid process.

All of these options assume first that there MUST be a tunnel, before we have even determined that a tunnel is necessary, feasible, and affordable. (That is what the Tunnel EA will do, and council has directed that that study team include world class transit tunneling experts).

This proposal is supposed to be how to deal with downtown transit issues, but all options involve over 60 km of bus transitway construction. This is about 50% more than the total in the 2003 TMP. The total rail component in Option 3 is only about 32 km (including the existing O-Train), which is only about 25% of the LRT network in the Transportation Master Plan of 2003.

There is no indication how the conversion of the Transitway to rail, which has supposedly been in the City’s plans since the 1980’s, would be staged to minimized distruption and maximize total system capacity at each stage. It does appear that the extimated costs for conversion are far higher than determined by previous studies. Why?

The two options with bus only east west are clearly unacceptable and should have been screened out of the study early to reduce wasted effort. The public has made it clear that East-West transit MUST be rail-based. The capacity of an all bus system has been found unacceptable. The operating cost has been found unacceptable. The environmental issues have been found unacceptable. There is no potential to address interprovincial transit needs. And finally the capacity is unacceptable, (and in fact has been since the downtown reached transit capacity failure in 2004). So why are these options still being studied?

The complete exclusion of surface rail solutions, avoiding re-use of our existing rail corridors, track, bridges, stations, even existing train services, is unacceptable for a rational transportation plan for this millennium. It completely ignores the Mayor’s task force recommendations, and the multifaceted strategies that are being appplied in cities such as Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

The continued talk of Ottawa’s “renowned” Transitway and the reference to transfers as “taboo” by Nancy Schepers in her presentation, goes against the evidence of the City’s own public consultation. 85 percent of the people who voted at City Hall said a hub and spoke system with effective transfers was preferred.

Failure to invest in transit infrastructure downtown may have seemed like a good near-tern strategy in the 1980’s, as stated by John Bonsall, but a quarter Century later it has become a disaster. The system is running at its limits and has no capacity for growth, or reliable operation under any abnormal circumstances, including winter weath\er. Furthermore an all-bus system offers no economies of scale on labour costs as ridership increases, unlike multi-vehicle single-operator LRT or commuter trains.

The claims that a transfer-free ride downtown is still a viable option for planning the system is ludicrous. OC Tanspo does not operate the kind of all-destinations network that Toronto is building with its new Transit City LRT plan. Instead the focus remains on the downtown which is already well-served but only represents the morning destination for 23% of trips by all modes and 31% of cross-river trips from Gatineau.

The proposal to use hybrid buses in battery mode in the tunnel at the volumes proposed is a totally unproven concept. Seattle’s recent experience does not scale to Ottawa’s needs. This is also a very bad use for hybrid buses as ALL transitway and express buses to downtown would have to be the very expensive articulated hybrids, but would not generate any significant fuel savings or emission reductions, due to the high proportion of their route that would be on Transitway rather than start-stop. These buses could also not be used on most express routes through suburban neighbourhoods.

Study a tunnel quickly (with a 6-month EA), but only for LRT and only in comparison to an LRT-only surface option, which has never been properly studied. The open house panels indicated that it had been determined that surface LRT was “practical” with 3-car trains. The powerpoint presentation was contradictory in this respect.

Extend the existing O-Train immediately to the Leitrim Park and Ride and to Terrasses de La Chaudiere, with further planned extensions to interface to Gatineau’s Rapibus at the Casino and to serve both an airport spur and an extension to Artmstong Road, when it is rebuilt.

Work with VIA Rail and Ottawa Central Railway immediately to provide cross region commuting, effectively linked with the O-Train and Transitway at existing stations. Make sure that VIA’s current and future track and signalling investments near Ottawa support these service expansions. Investigate new options for combined intercity freight and light rail service on the same tracks, as is being done in Europe and the United States.

Lay out a network plan that is phased to show how the downtown transit solution will be progressively extended to the suburns, including all major siburban park and rides. Show how transit capacity requirements will be met at each stage of the expansion.

Remember that the provious process was required by the federal and provincial governments to be open and transparent. It was not, and City councillors recognized this in 2006. Make sure that this process does not fail for the same reasons.