Wednesday, July 7, 2010

2010 Election: Taylor on interprovincial transit

Ottawa's Prince of Wales Bridge. © Padraic Ryan.

Over the course of the 2010 Mayoral Election campaign,
Public Transit in Ottawa will be sitting down with mayoral candidates, discussing their platforms and thoughts on transit in this city, and what they hope to achieve during their mandate, if elected mayor.

Another key part of Charlie Taylor's mayoral platform is an extension of the current O-Train across the Ottawa River into Gatineau, over the currently city-owned Prince of Wales bridge. It's an idea that has come up often (which is why the city owns the bridge), but seems to have been left on the back-burner for public transit in the city. Taylor thinks it needs to be brought back to the forefront.
An integrated rail network tying the whole city together, to me, is a no-brainer. They’re talking about building new bridges for cars across the river. There are, I think, something like 5,000 buses going across the river every day, and surely you could divert some of that traffic if you had a reasonable rail network in Gatineau linked to a reasonable rail network in Ottawa. They’ve already got the infrastructure in Gatineau, and we’re going to be connecting to the Bayview Station shortly—which is where the O-Train runs.
Taylor claimed that Ottawa actually owns land in Gatineau across the river to build a rail station for the O-Train to cross the river, but hasn't pushed the issue after, according to Taylor, encountering resistance from the Gatineau municipal government. Taylor says he would push ahead, whether Gatineau was in favour or not.
If Gatineau won’t talk to us, then I wouldn’t be averse to applying some pressure, saying, “You guys run a lot of STO buses to Ottawa; if you want to keep running your STO buses to Ottawa, let us run our train.” It’s just ridiculous. Tearing up rail line and putting in bus systems is what we were doing in the 1950s and everyone regrets it. The whole world is switching back to rail. We’re the only major city in Canada that doesn’t have a rail-based transit system. It’s more efficient, it’s cleaner, it’s a more comfortable way to go. It’s a no-brainer.
After extending the O-Train into Gatineau, Taylor also suggested the line should be extended southwards to the McDonald-Cartier Airport.

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