Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On heaters and bathrooms in LRT stations

According to an article in Your Ottawa Region from a couple of weeks ago discussed the city looking into installing either or both of heaters and washrooms in the revamped stations for our light-rail line.

Heaters seem like a natural choice. Plans for the above-ground stations are all open-concept structures, so there may not be much shelter from the winter wind and snow, so it makes sense. I've written on this site in the past about the potential for renewable energy to power heaters in transit stations, and I hope that possibility is explored, but, however they're powered, I don't think heaters are an optional expense for our system.

UPDATE (8:45 p.m.): In the understanding of the Ottawa Citizen's David Reevely, who attended the planning meeting where these options were discussed, the city is planning on installing "space-heater type things" similar in design to those currently in OC Transpo bus stations.

Washrooms, on the other hand, aren't as important as heaters. At first thought, they seemed like great additions for their convenience and practicality, but in my opinion, the maintenance costs and the safety risks associated with them would outweigh the benefits.

It's preliminary for the time being, and staff are looking into both washrooms and heaters at stations, so we'll see what they come up with about them.

14 comments:

dzuunmod said...

If there are washrooms in other public transit systems around North America and the world, and if those systems don't have significant problems with the upkeep and safety factors you mention, I think they should go for it.

But yeah, I'm skeptical too.

Anonymous said...

If New York City has washrooms in their subway system, why can't Ottawa have them at the LRT (and transitway!) stations?

David Reevely said...

I was at that meeting, too, and I'm pretty sure that the OC Transpo people said there would be heating in the LRT stations, generally of the type that are in Transitway stations now -- space-heater type things radiating heat from above, in sheltered areas.

What I took them to mean was that there wouldn't be elaborate heating systems built into the entire structure.

Wes Chu said...

I'm not entirely sold on washrooms in LRT stations either. Providing the washrooms is one thing, but maintaining it is another issue. Toronto has washrooms in a few of their subway stations and I've been told to avoid them. I suspect they are not well maintained.

As for heating, I wonder if the same type of heating would be implemented in the underground stations too. With no outside cold air, they may not even be needed there.

Jon D. said...

I don't think either makes sense, here's why:

1) current transitway stns don't have them and are spread across the city at a greater distance to the OLRT. Today when I'm at hurdman I don't feel I should be able to take a leak so I don't see that changing in 10 years.

2) Heat needed at current transitway stns now because a) runs are normally late in the winter and b) locals often run every 20-30 mins so you could be waiting.

3) heat shouldn't be needed (not counting terminuses) since trains should be running every 10 mins or less. So not a long wait.

WJM said...

3) heat shouldn't be needed (not counting terminuses) since trains should be running every 10 mins or less. So not a long wait.

Maybe not for the train, anyway.

But what about connecting to the connecting buses?

WJM said...

Whoever the bonehead is who designed the Transitway "greenhouses", which are absolutely brutal on hot summer days, should have been forced to take the bus every day from June 1st to September 30th during the long years when few if any of the buses were air-conditioned.

The fixation with heating concerns me. Will there be an equal fixation with ensuring shade and passive cooling during summer heat? I find this to be a much bigger problem with the current Transitway stations than winter heating.

If it's cold, you can put on more cloths. There's a limit to how much you can take off, both legally and in terms of effectiveness. Shade and cross-breezes have to be important values informing the design of the above-ground structures on the LRT.

Todd said...

From listening to one of the design architects speak at the announcement, I think there was a great deal of thought put into summer cooling, but maybe not quite enough put into winter warming, and I was happy to see a couple of the councillors pick up on that at the subsequent council meeting. The refusal to design some elements of basic comfort into the original Transitway stations was probably the greatest mistake of the system, and a good sign that the people designing the system weren’t planning to try and use it themselves. We are a winter city, and there is no plausible reason to not include even a small heated area at each station, regardless of planned headways. The radiated heat and bench warmers discussed are a start, but there needs to be access to warm places for those who miss a connection and might have to wait a little longer than expected for the next one.

As for washrooms, I have mixed feelings on this. I see it from both sides – as the population ages why would we intentionally design the system to make it difficult or unpleasant for many to use – but how to balance that against the basic security and safety issues presented by public transit washrooms (they do tend to develop crime problems and can get disgusting quickly if maintenance isn’t at a very, very high standard). My thoughts are, key transfer stations only – Tunney’s, Hurdman, Blair – and make sure staff are always posted at those stations to keep an eye on the facilities.

daniellaprice30 said...

I agree that heaters are essential on LRT stations specially during winter season. Actually it should be standard that they have wash rooms and heaters because it's a basic public facility.

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Hollie Collier said...

Finally, they came up with the idea of installing heaters and washrooms in LRT stations. This has been a problem for the residences that uses public comfort rooms. It’s good that they considered developing those washrooms.

Katherine Ross said...

They should’ve come up with this idea a long time ago, to prevent deeper problems. Well, I just hope after installing this equipment, they will maintain it and update it if there are any defects.

Katherine Ross said...

They should’ve come up with this idea a long time ago, to prevent deeper problems. Well, I just hope after installing this equipment, they will maintain it and update it if there are any defects.

Brent Noelle said...

In a way, it does seem a lot more important to put in additional heaters as the situation demands. It's a lot cheaper to install these than to build and maintain washrooms, what with the extra plumbing and all.

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