Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Transit options continue to build: The Leadman Option

The Ottawa Sun reported another transit option from a City Councillor today, this one from Kitchississpi Councillor Christine Leadman, who feels that the current favoured option (number four) fails to address the most pressing issues in the city. The Leadman Option follows the Wilkinson Option, as brought forward a few weeks ago by Kanata North Councillor Marianne Wilkinson for much the same reasons as Leadman brought hers about.

From the Sun story, here are a few of Leadman's motivating factors:
"I'm all for the big picture but we need to do something now," she said.

Leadman is also giving a thumbs-up to Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder's idea to use an existing VIA rail corridor that travels from Barrhaven to Tremblay Rd.

"These are things we can do now," she said. "We need to get people moving now. These are inexpensive and doable options."


One aspect of the latest plan that Leadman isn't happy with is that it gives too much attention to buses and not enough to creating a light-rail network that will serve the entire city.

"There are a lot more buses there than should be," said Leadman.

She likes the idea of a light-rail tunnel under the downtown but that will take years before the first passenger travels through it.

These are all valid concerns. A point I've made before, however, is that it's folly to quickly get people from the outskirts without making preparations to take care of them once they're in the core. The long-term plan perhaps shouldn't focus on buses, but they are a great complement in the short-term while the light-rail is established. Transfers are an issue, yes, and I like that councillors are actually looking at things that matter.

Leadman also brought up the very valid point that even if OC puts transit into a tunnel, a lot of people come from Quebec on buses. There isn't room for them in the tunnel, so what happens then?

Another piece of the transit puzzle she said the city isn't giving enough consideration is what to do with the more than 120 public transit buses that come across the Quebec border into Ottawa's downtown every day.

"We need to look at the Quebec side as well. We have to address that," she said. The Sun reported recently that Ottawa was looking at the possibility of a second tunnel to deal specifically with Gatineau buses at a cost of about $630 million.

Leadman joins councillors Clive Doucet and Marianne Wilkinson who are not pleased with the current transit option and have released their own transit plans.
I must have missed the Doucet Option, but he's got all sorts of info about it on his website. He's basically unpleased because the plan doesn't involve contact with new commuters because it's run along existing transit lines.

The bottom line is that it is necessary that council come up with the best plan for Ottawa. It's great that councillors are looking critically at the ideas, and dialogue on presented options is tremendous. Dialogue is different than each councillor making their own transit plan, though. I can see where it will go: each one will have light-rail going straight from their ward downtown. The hard part is taking the concerns of each councillor's ward, and balancing those with the concerns of the rest of the city. Each councillor is, after all, not only responsible to their ward, but also to the city as a whole.

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