Thursday, March 13, 2008

Michel Bellemare's thoughts on transit

This one's not an exclusive, but Michel Bellemare, City Councillor for Ward 11 (Beacon Hill-Cyrville) wrote a very interesting guest column for the Ottawa Citizen last week. In the column, Councillor Bellemare wrote about the need for a long-term plan to improve transit--what he calls a "transit Renaissance"--and, more importantly, the need to have a long-term, multi-generational vision to ensure that Ottawa's transit needs will eventually be met. Here are a few excerpts from the story:


People should expect light rail to meet actual and future needs, serve as many areas as possible, increase ridership, and generally improve our current transportation system.


The good news is much of Ottawa's rapid transit system is already built. It's called the Transitway, and its original builders made preparations for a future conversion to light-rail.


Real rapid transit requires giving buses or trains the exclusive right to travel within a dedicated corridor. It's the only way to eliminate conflicts with other vehicles and maintain a reasonable speed between stops. You can see that downtown is where the Transitway slows to a crawl. Let's fix that problem with a tunnel - from around Lees transit station to Bayview.


Today's residents of cities such as Montreal, Toronto, New York, Paris and London owe a debt of gratitude to their ancestors for having had the foresight, decades ago, to invest in underground rapid transit. In Ottawa, a downtown tunnel would enhance our city's wonderful yet unfinished cathedral called the Transitway.


[...]


Of the various options to consider in the coming weeks, the best possible plan will nclude east-west light-rail from Blair to Baseline stations through a downtown tunnel. Further light-rail conversion and extension of the Transitway going east, west and south must follow, perhaps preceded by new bus rapid transit corridors.


With an upgraded rapid transit network, the stage will be set for more efficient and reliable public transit in Ottawa. The future of transit is shorter and more frequent local bus routes carrying people from their neighbourhood to the nearest Transitway station, for a fast and comfortable ride to their ultimate destination.


[...]


With its fair share of funding from provincial and federal governments, a 20-year, three- to four-billion-dollar rapid transit action plan for Canada's capital is both feasible and overdue.


It's time for a transit Renaissance in Ottawa.


The column was intelligent an well-written, and I recommend those interested follow the link above to read it in its entirety.

2 comments:

Ben said...

I agree totally. Spend the money now for a tunnel and EXCLUSIVE LRT through downtown. It's a project that will serve the best interest of the people of Ottawa for generations.

Why wouldn't a councilor like to have a tunnel named after them? Sounds like a legacy to me. Is any modern Ottawa councilor deserving of a legacy?

Matt Fisher said...

I'm sorry if I'm a purist, but REAL "rapid transit" is on rails, not a cheap imitation on rubber tires that boosters sell as "just like rail, but cheaper". Consider how, in Curitiba, Brazil, their much vaunted BRT is called a "surface subway" by BRT boosters. And now, like us, they're going for LRT.