Thursday, January 29, 2009

Preliminary service resumption plan

Over at the OC Transpo Livejournal community, one sleuthing poster found OC Transpo's preliminary plan to resume service. It goes like this:

Schedules and route plans are still being finalized, and the number of buses available for service changes each day that the strike continues. The preliminary plan for service is as follows:

Weekdays

Will operate during their regularly scheduled day, including rush hours:

· O-Train
· All school routes, numbered in the 600’s
· Rapid transit routes 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 101, 102 and 106
· Major routes 2, 7, 12, 14, 85, 86 and 118
· Peak employment route 105 · Van route 123
· Early morning routes 824, 825, 830, 835, 837, and 873

Will operate evenings and mid-day only, outside of rush hours:

· Routes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 16, 18, 87, 111, 112, 114, 115, 116 and 117.
· Local black routes numbered 121-178

Will not operate:

· Green express and rural express routes
· Red rush hour routes other than 102 and 105.

Saturday & Sunday:

All routes that normally run on weekends will operate at full service.

38 comments:

Charles A-M said...

This is good news. The green express routes are the least efficient and most expensive ones to run, and it's good to see that the City has the sense to leave them until last.

Peter said...

I'm not sure if you've got evidence of that, Charles, but given that the green express routes have a premium cost and are often filled to capacity, I would expect them to be the most efficient and least expensive to run.

And the rural express routes have a higher premium and ridership at least as high as other buses with lower gas consumption per mile (due to less frequent stops) and not usually that far to travel.

Nikki said...

I'm with Peter on this. Express buses are usually full to capacity. Also, I would say a huge chunk of the pass-holding ridership uses only express buses so this may be a problem... I sure as hell don't want them taking money off my pay for my EcoPass if they're not running my bus!

Jessica said...

I am also with Nikki and Peter.

If you look at Kanata for example.. the buses which run from Kanata to downtown are the 96 and about 6 60-series express routes. Therefore, without these express routes in operation transit users will be forced to take the 96 which already is usually packed. The same goes for Barrhaven and the 95 as well as routes which service the east end.
I personally would have to take 3 buses to get to work because of this and even then there is no guarantee that I will get a spot on the bus. So, I probably won't take the bus and save myself the headache and the 2hr bus ride.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if you've got evidence of that, Charles, but given that the green express routes have a premium cost and are often filled to capacity, I would expect them to be the most efficient and least expensive to run

It's well established that these routes are the most expensive to operate on an annual basis.

This is at least partly because while they may recoup some costs from their ridership (the reason the fares are so high, btw), the areas they are serving are paying much less towards OC Transpo every year. In effect the green buses are heavily subsidized by other riders and, more to the point, other taxpayers, elsewhere in the city. The user fee is almost irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

I personally would have to take 3 buses to get to work because of this and even then there is no guarantee that I will get a spot on the bus. So, I probably won't take the bus and save myself the headache and the 2hr bus ride.

Good idea. I don't want my hard earned money going towards a bus driver making $105K a year to drive you to work either.

Adam said...

This is only related tangentally, but has the city ever thought of running "real" express routes?

ie. A 95 express that doesn't stop absolutely everywhere, but maybe Trim, Place, St. Laurent, Hurdman, Rideau (and/or) Metcalfe, Bayview, Lincoln Heights, Baseline, Fallowfield and maybe Barrhaven Centre? ie. they run the same route as the other buses, but with limited stops only at high volume locations.

If people need to get to one of the other locations, then they either take a regular bus, or take an express for most of the route and then switch to a regular to go the stop or three back or forwards from the nearest express stop.

I remember the city trains working like this when I lived in Kobe, and really, that's what the BRT is supposed to run like in a lot of cases, is it not?

This could also be a good intro to that concept for when LRT is finally implemented.

Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Re: BRT. Not really.

You're assuming there are sufficient high density routes. The problem is, there aren't. This is one good reason why Ottawa was a BRT city to start with.

I know you're not saying this, but it bears repeating: transit isn't -just- about making your route faster. ;)

Adam said...

@Anonymous @1:20PM

I agree with you on that. I personally take an express, but I drive to park and ride for it even though one stops near my house.

But I was looking at things this way.

Run express version of the current rapid transit routes at peak hours, drop the express with the huge local chunk on the front of it, and run more locals to feed the expresses.

And the new Express Rapid Transit routes wouldn't be more expensive than the regular RT routes, but just have limited stops.

Heck, I have to transfer to another bus when I get downtown anyways, so this doesn't really affect my commute at all.

More thinking that if they can be running more frequent local routes (not every 30, but maybe every 10-15, especially at peak hours) then perhaps that could actually improve service to the suburbs. It could also serve to make the main stops more of a hub as well, in terms of shopping and other community activities.

Anonymous said...

Ultimately if LRT is ever to work a few things have to happen.

First, the cost has to be shared more evenly. It makes no sense for people who pay more to live near where they work to have to subsidize those who choose to live further away and either drive (increase road taxes or attach them to vehicle licenses) or take transit (increase transit user fees for longer routes, or implement pay-per-km).

Secondly, population densities must go up.

Improving service to suburbs hub areas goes with the plan. Sort of. But improving service to more of suburbia or more remote areas is a move in the wrong direction, and goes AGAINST the rest of the transit plan.

Finally, the union has to be made to agree to terms where an honest hours work gets an honest hours wage.

Adam said...

Re Anonymous @ 1:37

I agree with what you're saying in principle, but there's also a few other things to take into account.

1) Better cost recovery based on usage. I'm on board with this in principle, though the exact method of implementation could be the challenge. Perhaps the SmartCard system can help with this. (Swipe on and off to charge amount?) Or perhaps it's something along the lines of having greater tax load on suburban residents (which would suck for me) but trying to recapture the added costs in terms of infrastructure development and maintenance shared over fewer people/households. That then becomes a way to entice people to allow/encourage densification in the suburbs. As population density goes up, taxes go down.

This is also a way to offset the higher costs of living closer in to the city, so perhaps in some ways they would start to level in cost, and people would then be more flexible in choosing where they want to live based on preference rather than affordability.

However, I don't agree with point 2, or at least the second part of it.

Improving service to more areas of the current suburbs could entice people to live there, thus driving densification.

It leads back to the densification dilemma, as I see it. If people don't live there, then how do we justify greater transit infrastructure, but without decent transit infrastructure, what is there to entice people to live there?

And I remember seeing a post in the past while, either here or on David Reevely's blog, mentioning the fact that this strike makes it a lot harder to sell a transit-focused existence to anyone, regardless of what part of the city they live in. That's something that needs to be addressed as well in any type of long term transit plan.

Anonymous said...

We're talking at cross purposes.

I think that was the point. That is, to densify the suburbs by increase pickup rates and encourage dense building in existing areas rather than expand the suburbs by increasing pickup service area or adding routes.

Don't kid yourself: there's no dilemma with densification. There hasn't been for 1000s of years. This is purely a problem in cities built and grown on cheap oil and cheap housing and subsidized both. The concept of traveling 10s of kms or several hours to work is a 50year old one.

Anonymous said...

Improving service to more areas of the current suburbs could entice people to live there, thus driving densification.

Yeah, ok, this is directly opposite to what I'm saying. Building more service to more areas doesn't densify at all. It dilutes. This is why suburbs exist to start with. Particularly when the cost of buying a cheaper, larger house further out but paying more to either shop (or work) locally vs. paying for driving (roads) or other commuting (transit) options from further out is not borne by the homeowner but by other people.

Dean said...

The part of the solution as how to share cost's is a simple one already in use. A zoned transit system. Most of the world uses it because it is the most fair system. You will even see it used in much smaller cities in europe.

People in the suburb's are gonna have to realize if you want the benefit's of city living it's gonna take time and money. People seem to forget it took a lot of time and money to build it in the city.

Anonymous said...

Strike's Over. Binding Arbitration.

Union blinked.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why everyone is so negative towards people in the suburbs. Some of us just can't afford to pay $250K for a bachelor condo in the downtown core. Densification is the right idea, but it may be smarter to look into building more "work" buildings in the suburbs than trying to find increased residential space in the expensive and already dense downtown core.

Anonymous said...

Also, people in the city are going to have to realize that the suburbs didn't want to be a part of the City in the first place. The subarbanites paid less taxes and had better-run services when there were separate municipalities. So telling us we are going to have to suck it up and pay more to live in Ottawa just doesn't cut it. We'd rather just de-amalgamate and live in Kanata, Nepean, Orleans, or Goulbourn.

Anonymous said...

Some of us just can't afford to pay $250K for a bachelor condo in the downtown core

That's not the point. The point is the 140 or 120K house that you buy in suburbs followed by a 30K car vs a 170K house in Hunt Club.

The subarbanites paid less taxes and had better-run services when there were separate municipalities.

Yeah, 10 years ago everybody paid less taxes. Believe me, if you think suburbanites are getting a raw deal look at property taxes then look at the location and usage rates of:
schools
roads
transit
librairies

and almost every other city service.

Why should someone who chooses not to buy a car and lives in Hunt Club or Sandy Hill or Vanier have to pay for your road, your pool, your library and your schools at nearly double the rate you do?

If you don't want to be part of the city, then we agree. Let's base it all on user fees. Then everyone will be happy. If you think you're going to save money there, you're out of your mind.

(A side benefit of user fees is less opportunity for generally pooling of funds by councilors for their own nefarious purposes)

Anonymous said...

but it may be smarter to look into building more "work" buildings in the suburbs

This is SUCH a foolish argument. You don't build 'work' buildings. Companies do. And government does.

And guess what, for all but most industrial cases, it makes far more business sense for businesses to be located in dense areas. Some businesses serve people, and some businesses serve other businesses.

This is the way cities have been built, as an early post said, for millenia. There's nothing new here.

This is why houses were built in concentric circles around places of worship and forums and markets rather than forums and markets and cathedrals being built next to a few huts in hopes of creating density. Remove the cheap oil and make one user pay one fee and all of a sudden, densification happens. Don't like Ottawa? Fine -- there's lots of other towns, including some you mentioned.

What year of highschool are you in?

Peter said...

Anon @ 7:04: I see no need to resort to demeaning other commenters in what had been a constructive debate.

Also, given that there is a significant population of federal government staff concentrated in suburban areas, there's no reason why the federal government would consider building "work" buildings in or relocating offices to some existing office space in Kanata's hi-tech developments, to give you an example.

As a matter of fact, it's already beginning: Federal government dips toes into Kanata real estate market, Ottawa Citizen, Jan. 20, 2009.

Rather than resorting to name-calling, let's keep the debate constructive out of respect for ourselves and our of respect for each other.

WJM said...

Don't kid yourself: there's no dilemma with densification. There hasn't been for 1000s of years. This is purely a problem in cities built and grown on cheap oil and cheap housing and subsidized both.

And fifty and sixty years of the quarter-acre dream, and the NIMBYism it has begotten.

WJM said...

it may be smarter to look into building more "work" buildings in the suburbs than trying to find increased residential space in the expensive and already dense downtown core.

More work buildings, institutional buildings, and other buildings besides just housing; AND a greater diversity of housing types; AND amendments to the street layout and land use planning to let suburbs "grow up".

Anonymous said...

Regarding the actual post here--on the service resumption plan--I have to ask:

Why does OC hate Carleton?

UOttawa is going to get full service from day 1 but Carleton's only getting two out of four routes back during the peaks and no direct access from the east and north east sectors.

And I really don't know what OC is smoking by not running the 1 during peaks. Packing at least half of all Carleton commuters and all Bank St trips headed south of Somerset onto the 7 isn't going to work.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous@6:55 and 7:04:
First of all, I did look into houses in the downtown core and the suburbs and wasn't able to find ANYTHING under $200K anywhere. Also, you didn't finish this sentence: "The point is the 140 or 120K house that you buy in suburbs followed by a 30K car vs a 170K house in Hunt Club." so I don't really know what "the point is."
Also, when I said subarbanites paid less taxes before amalgamation, I meant relative to the people living in the City of Ottawa at the time. Not compared to how much we pay now.
When I said that we should look into building more "work" buildings in the suburb, I was referring specifically to the federal government, which can "choose" as to where to build, and should probably look into building closer to where people are coming from. Most people I know who work for the public service live in the suburbs. Your argument about companies not building in suburbs falls flat when you look at the number of high-tech companies located on the outskirts of Kanata and the number of high-end businesses in areas like Barrhaven, Kanata, and Manotick.
And for the record, this argument: "Don't like Ottawa? Fine -- there's lots of other towns, including some you mentioned," doesn't hold up. Kanata, Nepean, Orleans, and Goulbourn no longer exist. We are all a part of the grand City of Ottawa.
For the record, I am done "highschool" and know that it is two separate words (high school) and not one.
Peter: Sorry for the destructive comments and off-topic response but I couldn't just not respond!

Anonymous said...

Where was the name calling?

First of all, I did look into houses in the downtown core and the suburbs and wasn't able to find ANYTHING under $200K anywhere.

B.S. What are your minimum requirements? What's you definition of the downtown core?

The Fed government -could- build building in remote places. But you know what happens then? The cost of doing business goes up for THEM. That is to say, US. Never mind the fact that they are now drawing on a pool of hundreds or thousands rather than tens of thousands.

Please quit trying to get other people to play for your extra bathroom, your extra backyard, your cheaper mortgage and the associated costs you want other people to bear (roads, transit, inefficient artificial cores). It's selfish, and it's stupid. What's worse, for some people it's systematic.

That's the point.

Anonymous said...

*pay, not play

Also -- if you want user fees (maybe pooled by neighborhood), then we agree. It sounds like you do.

I have NO problem with someone buying a bigger house for less and then living/paying for the disadvantages of living in the boonies.

And I have NO problem with someone buying a house near an existing core rather than buy two cars, even if it means it's a one bedroom or it's not a new house or there's no backyard.

I have BIG problems with schemes that aim to place the costs of living in the boonies in a 10 bedroom bungalow on a guy or gal who bought a one bedroom one bath condo downtown.

I also have BIG problems on people who believe that it makes sense to try and -create- density by building more. The way you create density is by removing the things that discourage density (free roads to remote locations, free transit to remote locations) which usually are subsidized, again, by others.

Anonymous said...

and for goodness sake let's even out home taxation rates.

Anonymous said...

So, then you are saying that places like Barrhaven, Orleans, Kanata are the boonies?? Pardon me, but I think most people would disagree with you. Even so, the people who have recently bought in these areas are NOT living in "10 bedroom bungalow(s)" Rather, they are living in modest 2 bedroom 2 bathroom terrace homes, town homes etc.

I think the map on this website will help to show you that your so-called boonies are actually not and that your earlier claim that Hunt Club is part of the core is misguided. http://www.ottawa.ca/city_services/statistics/counts/grow/index_en.html

Furthermore, the population of Ottawa is expected to hit the one million mark in the next few years, where do you want everyone to go?

Anonymous said...

It's already hit a million mark. But growing outwards, with 2 bedroom homes.

Hunt Club is not part of the core, but it IS part of the transit core. This is a transit blog and a transit question.

The boonies are the development areas around some of the places you mentioned that pop up houses at the rate of 2 a week, where people get to decide where they want their fireplace and which one of 10 moldings they'll go with. Then those same people complain that the government should improve transit to their new, currently unnamed, street and or add gas subsidies.

Way to miss the point. Entirely.\

Some of us do this stuff for a living, y'know.

Peter said...

Anon @ 12:32: What, exactly, do you do for a living? Because what I see in your posts is a weakened argument based on a number of sweeping generalisations about people who--whether by choice or by necessity--live in areas outside of the Greenbelt. You pose interesting points about cheap gas and subsidized roads having enabled suburban development, but those are history lessons.

Kanata and Barrhaven are not, as you've argued, 'remote places.' Tens of thousands of federal employees commute everyday from these developments to federal buildings downtown--the rational way to avoid such unnecessary travel (and the pollution and inefficiency associated with it) would be to bring the work to where the people are. The federal government has the flexibility to do so, and, as I said earlier, has realized that and invested in some real estate in Kanata.

Some newer developments in suburban areas, such as Barrhaven, have (or will have) greater population densities than areas within the 'transit core' you've described.

Although fellow citizens in the core may resent it, the suburbs are already here. They're not going anywhere. Instead of making simplistic assumptions about them and about suburban residents, we need to think of policies and priorities that will make suburban development as responsible and positive as possible.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Peter.

So much for respect, eh?

You pose interesting points about cheap gas and subsidized roads having enabled suburban development, but those are history lessons.

Suffice it to say that this is wrong. Very wrong.

But I don't feel the need to justify
myself to every blogger in a green shirt that thinks he's an expert.

Although fellow citizens in the core may resent it, the suburbs are already here. They're not going anywhere.

Wrong again. We're not talking about resentment, we're talking about sustainability. We're talking about throwing good money after bad.

Suburbs may be sustainable. So may towns in the desert. But, given the historical evidence that suggest that both become ghost towns, I think it behooves people who argue we should try and promote/save densification in the suburbs (an inherent oxymoron, to some degree at least) to provide more than anectodal evidence talking about their house or thei commute to work.

But what do I know? I don't even have a gravatar!

Anyhow, lessons over kiddies: Buy houses wherever you want, and watch their values move accordingly.

Anonymous said...

WJM: great point. Maybe what we need is more diversification instead of densification. A mix of retail, institutional, office space, and residential buildings in all areas would be fantastic. What we have now really isn't optimal but there isn't really a whole lot that we can do to change it. As Peter said, the suburbs already exist. What we can do is encourage smart growth in all the right places and attempt to stem the (haemorrhaging) urban sprawl issues before they get worse.
The mission statement of this site says that it is intended as an "exploration of news, notes, and comments about Ottawa's public transit system," and also says that it "will help Ottawans become engaged and involved in the decision-making process municipally." The fact that this discussion has evolved from transit to urban planning proves that it is promoting intelligent discourse and public engagement. However, resorting to destructive name-calling and stating "facts" with no supporting evidence does not enhance public debate. It only serves to highlight our differences (urban vs. suburban vs. rural) rather than celebrate our similarities (interest in municipal planning and development).
Let's try to be positive in pointing out where the City can improve for ALL residents rather than being negative about the unchangeable past!

Anonymous said...

Agreed.

So here's a reference that supports my point of view and points out the ridiculousness (or backwards thinking, begging the question, logical fallacy -- take your pick) of statements like this:

Tens of thousands of federal employees commute everyday from these developments to federal buildings downtown--the rational way to avoid such unnecessary travel (and the pollution and inefficiency associated with it) would be to bring the work to where the people are.

I've gone to great lengths to find a cocnise publicly available and understandable recent and Canadian abstract for those of us who like to pretend what we're talking about without doing much work. But should you not be able to handle reading 6 lines, here's the key point:

Ground water availability, temperate climate, rugged terrain, decentralized employment, early public transport infrastructure, uncertainty about metropolitan growth, and unincorporated land in the urban fringe all increase sprawl.

Anonymous said...

Here's another intro to the topic for those who are prepared to learn.

So that's two references (one a journal paper, one a course-room type seminar) that support what thousands of years of empirical evidence also suggests, and the North American continent itself suggests.

Nicola said...

Thank you for the interesting documents. I encourage you to read them in their entirety.
The first paper you linked to, rather than emphasizing the correlation between the indicators you bolded, actually placed more "emphasis on the role that physical geography plays in explaining sprawl."[7] Specifically, it found that "sprawl increases substantially with the presence of wateryielding aquifers in the urban fringe."[1] It also explored the fact that "high mountains close to development constrain urban expansion and tend to make development more compact. Hills and smallscale terrain irregularities, on the other hand, encourage scattered development."[1]
The City of Ottawa website states that "there is an estimated 30,000 private well and septic systems serving approximately 75,000 residents," belying the presence of water-yeilding aquifers on Ottawa's urban fringe. Natural Resources Canada also has more information about the Nepean aquifer. The authors of the paper indicated that "perhaps the most intriguing issue arises from the connection between aquifers and sprawl,"[28] so it may be interesting to extend your research to that area. The fact that the Ottawa area is often referred to as the "Ottawa Valley" should be enough to indicate that hills and small-scale terrain irregularities are a dominant part of our physical geography. Mountains, however, are not.
The researchers also found that "the reliance
of a city on the automobile over public transport," [28] was also an indicator of sprawl. This gets us back to the original argument. When residents are forced to rely on personal automobiles rather than reliable and available public transit, the result is more sprawl. Thus, in order to limit sprawl, transit must be extended to all current residents, including those already located in the suburbs.
The paper concludes by saying that a "true understanding of the implications of urban
sprawl can only come about through the study of both the positive and normative aspects of
the urban development process. Much of the current debate has seen people rushing to address
normative issues without first having a good understanding of the positive aspects. In contrast, in
providing the first detailed description of the process of urban development and its determinants, our paper is quite clearly focused on improving our understanding of these positive aspects." [28]
The second document did not really possess the same kind of "empirical evidence" of the first. It was just a Powerpoint presentation with no slide notes and no links to researh papers, websites or statistics. I didn't really find it very useful as it was very subjective and not well-supported.
It was interesting that the researchers found that physical geography and aquifers were strong indicators of sprawl. This, to me, indicates that Ottawa was somewhat destined to become a sprawling city, rather than a compact, monocentric one. It seems that geographical and geological characteristics were more influential in the way the City grew than selfishness, greed or laziness on the part of suburban citizens.//
Thanks for this paper. It was interesting.

Anonymous said...

The first paper you linked to, rather than emphasizing the correlation between the indicators you bolded, actually placed more "emphasis on the role that physical geography plays in explaining sprawl."[7] Specifically, it found that "sprawl increases substantially with the presence of wateryielding aquifers in the urban fringe."[1] It also explored the fact that "high mountains close to development constrain urban expansion and tend to make development more compact. Hills and smallscale terrain irregularities, on the other hand, encourage scattered development."[1]

This is because there's ample evidence already to suggest that. The paper actually focused on remote sensing techniques. The second theme, you identified is the use of natural -- but also artificial -- boundaries to limit sprawl.

It further identified several artificial incentives that encourage sprawl. Including remote service like water. If I was going to think of an example in Ottawa, one that even Peter might remember, I'd probably go with Scotiabank Place.

The second document is a lecture. It discusses best management practices for reducing and remedying sprawl. It DIRECTLY challenges the assertion that 'the suburbs are already here, so they're not going anywhere.

Empirical evidence: Rome. Paris. London. Moscow. Edinburgh. New York. Chicago. Boston. LA.

Anonymous said...

It was interesting that the researchers found that physical geography and aquifers were strong indicators of sprawl. This, to me, indicates that Ottawa was somewhat destined to become a sprawling city, rather than a compact, monocentric one

This does not follow. At all. See the empirical examples above.

The question is? Why are some cities with these resources build like this?

The answer, which show the age of maturation of cities across North America, is cheap oil, cheap roads, cheap (subsidized, really) Cars, and cheap housing. That's ok -- everyone is allowed to have their own definition of success.

This is why cities that were already hugely populated a 100 years ago are build differently from cities that grew up after WWII.

The problem is when people expect others to cover the direct costs of living. Why not build (subsidize) public buses to Montreal for $4/fare? It's only a few hours away, and we could easily improve jobs for both cities and economic development for both cities. It would bankrupt the people who live in Ottawa and have to pay for the Montreal people to get here of course, but hey, it's not like they knew where they bought their house when they bought it.

Dwight Williams said...

Considering how many of us in Orléans used the bus before the strike started, I don't think you can say we've treated it as anything less than a survival necessity. Freezing us out until the last phase of the relaunch of service does no one anywhere in town any favours.