Friday, November 7, 2008

LRT expected to head east first

According to a report on, city staff are recommending that light rail begin along east-west routes rather than the north-south line previously favoured by Mayor Larry O'Brien and some staff. The first-phase recommendation sounds a lot like Implementation Scenario One, which features light rail from Tunney's Pasture in the west to Blair Station in the east, a tunnel downtown, an extension of the O-Train to the south, and bus rapid transit improvements in Kanata and Barrhaven.

According to Ottawa Citizen columnist Randall Denley, the city finally has it right. In Denley's column today:
The decision to go east-west is strongly supported by the numbers. It would attract the most riders, five million a year more than the earlier east-south plan. It would also bring in far more fare revenue, easing the subsidy burden on homeowners.

East-west has a 50-per-cent lower capital cost per passenger kilometre. It also generates $90 million a year in operating cost savings because it takes more buses off the street. The east-west plan would remove 90 per cent of buses from Albert and Slater streets, twice as many as east-south.

Environmentally, east-west wins again. Because it relies more on electric rail, it produces nearly 50 per cent more greenhouse-gas reductions. The east-west line also fits within the city's goal of delivering the high-cost rail service inside the Greenbelt, where most of the riders live.
According to the Ottawa Sun, the change in priority was in large part because of feedback from public meetings, where many said that the east-west route should take precedence. The Sun presented some numbers to explain the change, as well, stating that there are 159,000 all-day east-west riders, compared to only 11,800 all-day riders travelling south.

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