Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Downtown businesses support a tunnel

A story in the Ottawa Citizen today explained the support that downtown businesses--or at least the Downtown Coalition of landholders--support the idea of using a tunnel for transit downtown. They cite some pretty good reasons:

After years of fighting the city's plans to bring a light-rail transit service downtown at street level, the city's downtown business leaders are finally on-side, cheering the city in its bid to build a transit system underground.

Hume Rogers, of the Downtown Coalition, says that with a tunnel taking light-rail commuter trains under the city's busiest streets, there will be thousands of riders who will be a ready market for underground shops and services. In Montreal and Toronto, subways led to new business districts underground and pedestrian pathways that allow people to stay out of the weather as they go from building to building.

Of the four options city staff have put forward for a long-term transit plan, the coalition favours Nos. 3 and 4, which include the greatest expansion of rail.
Another interesting point by Rogers is his idea that, paraphrased in the story, "the city has agreed that the downtown must be fixed for transit before the city can move out to properly serve the suburbs." An interesting point; should you get people downtown before working on transportation there, or make downtown better and then focus on helping those in the suburbs? I'd be inclined to agree with Rogers, that it's better to start in the centre and move out.

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