Monday, October 5, 2009

Heavy-rail: Cheaper, faster, more capacity; better?

As reported in the Ottawa Sun, City of Ottawa councillors may soon face another decision for the new transit plan: That between a light-rail or heavy-rail train. It's a choice that seems to come out of left field, after months and years of discussion surrounding light-rail as the next step in Ottawa transit.

From the Sun:
"For years city staff and councillors have been discussing a light rail transit (LRT) network, but in November councillors will be presented with a detailed plan that will offer them a choice between building a heavy rail transit (HRT) system or an LRT network.


"[Transit committee chairman and Bay Ward Councillor Alex] Cullen said HRT has benefits: It’s cheaper than LRT, has faster acceleration and can carry more passengers."

As the Sun story goes on to say, there are several councillors--River Ward Councillor Maria McRae and Kitchissippi Ward Councillor Christine Leadman chief among them--who are none too happy about this development. It must certainly come as a shock to citizens, many of whom have been hearing about light-rail for years and are now faced with another possible 180-degree turn in the city's transit plan.

1 comment:

Charles A-M said...

At the Light Rail Technology Forum held by the City back in June (?), two of the three manufacturers (Bombardier and Alstrom) recommended that heavy rail (i.e. Metro) would best suit Ottawa's ridership expectations.

As I've suggested earlier, I think the City should just scrap their top-down plan and put an RFP to potential manufacturers saying, "For this amount of money, tell us how you'd build a transit system to best serve Ottawa. It'll have to pass the public consultation test."

Sufficiently politically astute companies bidding would have paid attention to the public discourse on Ottawa's rail transit system and would make recommendations based on known political constraints. This leaves it wide open enough to allow for rail companies--who are presumably experts in this sort of thing--to suggest innovative alternatives to the City's one-track mind. (Of course this is never going to happen)