Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Doucet releases comprehensive alternative transit plan

On Tuesday morning, mayoral candidate Clive Doucet held a press conference to announce his plans for transit and transportation if elected mayor of the City of Ottawa. And his plan is pretty much completely different from the current plan. [Read the press release here.]

Doucet's plan calls for a deference of the tunnel "until [its cost] can be justified", and instead proposes running at-grade light-rail along Laurier Avenue downtown as a parallel line to the existing bus-rapid transit on Albert and Slater. He also proposes a western leg along Carling Avenue (a resuscitated version of his co-sponsored Light Rail Now! transit alternative from November 2008) into Kanata, extending the O-Train south towards the airport, and heading east towards Blair Road and beyond. Doucet says that he would begin the groundwork for the projects immediately, and that he could have them finished within a single four-year mandate, and for a total cost of "around $2B".

After finishing his presentation, Doucet turned the floor over to a couple other transit-oriented speakers. Local "suburban commuter" Liam Jerusalem described his purchase of a home in Riverside South with the expectation of light-rail (under the cancelled North-South transit line) running through that suburb, and his disappointment that followed the cancellation of that plan. And his other guest speaker was Sustainable Transportation Consultant Joel Mulligan, who described the virtues of a cycle-oriented society and offered his support for Doucet's promises to place more emphasis on cycling.

Doucet also discussed his plans to "optimize bus service" by organizing OC Transpo into three distinct service modes that compete with one another for funding: Community service, commuter service, and light-rail service. He also expressed a desire to approach VIA Rail in an effort to establish GO-Train-style commuter transit for outlying communities including Smiths Falls, Richmond, Perth, and Casselman.

Finally, he pledged his support for high-speed rail in the region, committing his support to establishing a Quebec City-Toronto corridor with Ottawa along it.

I will be offering more specific information on Doucet's presentation in the coming weeks, as a part of Public Transit in Ottawa's 2010 election hub.


RealGrouchy said...

Um... he wants to put light rail on Laurier?!?

- RG>

David said...

I don't get the use of Laurier, either.

Laurier and Queen have come to be used as the access roads for many of the buildings with frontages on Slater & Albert that have been built in the time since the Transitway started using Slater & Albert.

As a consequence, both Laurier and Queen are full of accesses. Using Laurier would also skip a station at the Rideau Centre.

The only realistic options for any kind of surface rapid transit are Slater & Albert together or Albert alone.

Jonathan Bailey said...

For some reason, the City and Council seem to be stuck on light rail. Why light rail? What problem are we trying to solve? Downtown congestion? 417 / 174 congestion? Inter-provincial bridge congestion? North-south arterial congestion? Byward Market / King Edward congestion? The fact that council first approved a plan for light rail that went to Barrhaven (via Leitrim), then subsequently cancelled that plan, and approved a different plan that gives us light rail to Tunney’s Pasture, indicates that no one has a real good handle on the problem that we’re trying to solve. Never mind the fact that canceling the first contract came at a huge cost to taxpayers, and the new plan won’t be implemented for at least 10 years, at a huge expense that will divert resources away from other important infrastructure projects.

Any transit solution must be constructed within the framework of a larger transportation plan. As I see it, all of the problems above need to be solved with an integrated transportation plan. I believe that the main causes of the existing problems are, in no particular order:

• there isn’t enough capacity (car or transit) to serve intra-city commuters from places like Kanata, Barrhaven, and OrlĂ©ans, let alone inter-city commuters from places like Carleton Place, Arnprior, Rockland, and Gatineau; this results in congestion on the 417 / 174, arterial roads, and on the inter-provincial bridges;

• there is no inter-provincial bridge linking the two provincial highway systems, resulting in significant truck traffic and congestion in the Byward Market / King Edward area;

• there are two unintegrated transit systems serving a single metropolitan area, resulting in increased congestion in the downtown area;

• there is no integrated inter-modal transportation plan (car, transit, inter-city bus and rail, air, bicycle, and pedestrian), resulting in increased trips and distance traveled by car and increased congestion

Any transportation plan, in which the transit plan must be integrated, must address the four causes and resulting problems identified above.

The transportation plan must be authored within the context of other planning documents, including the official plan, and dovetail with those issues including urban sprawl, intensification, air quality, and site locations such as a refurbished or new football venue.

I’m still waiting to hear from any candidate for mayor or council to present a cohesive strategy to deal with the larger issues.