Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Naqvi, part two: Effective Public Transit

When formulating a public transit vision, the first question planners must face is how to make it effective. In order to measure effectiveness, it must first be defined.

In Yasir Naqvi's platform for the 2007 provincial elections, he stated that one of his main goals was advocating for an effective public transit system in Ottawa. The first question I asked him in our interview was what, to him, determines such a qualifier. He stated that the most important thing is getting people on the bus or train:

What I think that makes it effective is a couple of components. One is that it really enhances ridership—we want a system which people actually use—and number two, that is accessible in its effectiveness; that it's convenient for people to use it. Now, I do believe that if you build it they will come, type of logic. Especially with the climate we're living in right now, with higher gas prices, there is an appetite for people to use an effective public transit system. We need to ensure that it is a system which results in enhanced ridership.

If people are on the bus (or train), then it's been successful in its goal of promoting use.

Naqvi went on to discuss the realities of commuting in the City of Ottawa, which is that people generally move into the downtown core--his riding--from four directions (three in this city, one across the river in Gatineau). To be truly efficint, Naqvi says, the transit system has to allow people to travel without having to use their cars.

The federal government is the largest employer, and they are primarily located in the downtown core. So we are bringing people from all four directions into the downtown core. I think those of us who live in this community [of Ottawa Centre], what we would like to see is that if we can create a transit system, or enhance our existing transit system, then more and more of those people [from the suburbs] can leave their cars behind. Hop on a bus, or hop on a train, to get downtown. So we maintain the sustainable nature of this community, and ensure that everybody has that convenience of coming to the hub of the economy that is the downtown core.

What the city needs to look at in a transit plan, according to Naqvi, is one that will encourage people to use the system in order to arrive downtown, without having to bring cars into the core.

Under the current option, rail spurs extend only to the outside of the core, and not into the suburbs. This would require commuters to get into the core before using rail, preferably by bus, but it might be more realistic to think quite a few will drive into the train stations. It remains to be seen, then, how "effective", under Naqvi's definition, this option would be.


Part Two of Yasir Naqvi on Public Transit in Ottawa, a exclusive:

Part One: Introduction
Part Two: Effective Public Transit
Part Three: Provincial Funding
Part Four: The Cancelled North-South Line
Part Five: Subway is "a good idea"
Part Six: Rail on the Ottawa River Parkway
Part Seven: Bi-Provincial Partnerships

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