Under the plan, Barrhaven and other commuters from the southwest will transfer from buses to the train at Baseline Road, and then head downtown. Kanata and other west-end commuters will get off the buses at Lincoln Fields and then catch the train east along whatever route it ends up taking.
But Wilkinson says that plan will ruin the commute for thousands of the people who live in west, and could drive them away from public transit. The Kanata North councillor says the trains coming from Baseline would be chock full by the time they get to Lincoln Fields, causing unacceptable delays for the west-enders.
She says the city has to seriously examine the possibility of extending a spur from Lincoln Fields to Bayshore to make the transfer easier for commuters coming from Kanata and surrounding areas.
“What they are saying is that everybody from the west, a very large number of people — about 300,000 — will come by bus and transfer at Lincoln Fields to a train that’s already full with people from Barrhaven and the south,” Wilkinson told the Citizen Wednesday.
Given where we are now, it's a bit of a strange push for Wilkinson to make. Realistically, light-rail won't be moving at all for about 20 years. And although the current transit plan doesn't include an extension of light-rail to Bayshore (it stops at Lincoln Fields station before heading south to Baseline), you've got to think the plan will be amended--and perhaps significantly--in the 20 years we have before we'll even be finished phase one of the massive transit plan.
As the Citizen article says, though, earliest planning is already underway for the second phase of the plan. And given that the plan already includes a southern leg (on the eastern side of the Rideau River down towards the Airport and Riverside South), continuing the western corridor west rather than directing it south does, in theory, make some sense.
But Baseline Station is a huge transit hub, and an actual huge destination, given its placement within the Algonquin College campus. On-campus residents looking to head downtown would be served start to finish with a light-rail line (no transfers!), and Algonquin students living along the rail line would be in the same boat. Aside from shopping, Bayshore Station isn't a huge transit destination, but would be used as the western transfer point from bus to light-rail; looking at it objectively (or trying to), Lincoln Fields is likely a better transfer point than Bayshore, because it's more established and has more room.
It's unclear what Wilkinson envisions the "spur" to Bayshore would do. Will it simply be a short rail route connecting Bayshore to Lincoln Fields? If so, it's simply adding an extra transfer to riders from the west, and still sets them up to jump on an already-full train.
Will it be a stand-alone route running alongside the one from Baseline Station? If so, one would assume that it would double the amount of waiting time for users transferring onto rail at the two hubs (those from the west at Bayshore, those from the south at Baseline, as the two routes would take turns running along the main line). Would that offer a service frequently enough to adequately serve riders in either situation, or will it simply compromise service for both groups?
At some point, extending rail further west will likely be required. But at this point, questions remain as to whether or not it is the most prudent priority for city transit planners to put their weight behind.