Thursday, February 2, 2012

In the Year 2012: Route extensions and changes on Rideau Street

OC Transpo released their 2012 Business Plan a week ago and in case you missed my previous posts on the plan, you can look at Presto Cards, Billboards for ads and bus arrival displays, and Park and Rides.  Today, we'll look at some ideas in the plan that calls for extending routes 94 and 99.

When the Strandherd-Armstrong bridge opens later this year, OC Transpo plans on extending route 94 to Riverview station and extending route 99 to the RCMP office in Barrhaven. Existing customers of either routes must be cringing.  The problem with route 94 is that it is such a long route and as soon as it operates with car traffic in the suburbs, it is no longer "rapid-transit" anymore.  There are more chances of the route being delayed when the route is far too long.  The route might better if it's broken in two like the old route 2 from Blair to Bayshore.

As for route 99 serving the RCMP offices.  Currently, there are two peak period routes (94, 199) and one regular route (176) serving the RCMP building on Leikin. I'm not sure how many RCMP staff members take transit, but, assuming service levels stay the same, four routes seems a bit much to serve a single company

There are plans to revise OC Transpo service to Gatineau: The OC Transpo bus routes extending into Gatineau will be revised to provide new connections with the STO’s Rapibus service, reducing
operating pressure on Rideau and Wellington Streets in downtown Ottawa.” This seems vague at this point in time. From what I understand, this may imply there will be fewer STO buses operating on Rideau and Wellington, which will be replaced by more OC Transpo service to STO's future Rapibus. For OC Transpo customers on a Rideau or Wellington bus, one would hope this means faster service in the bus lanes.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

In the Year 2012: More Park and Rides

For the past few days, I have picked a few tidbits from the 2012 OC Transpo business plan. Today, we will look at the ideas for new Park and Ride locations.

OC Transpo's business plan promises more park and ride spaces in the city. This year, there are plans to expand the existing lots at Trim, Strandherd stations and to build a new lot at Strandherd and Woodroffe, which will be a 3-minute drive from the existing Park and Ride at Strandherd and Greenbank. Once the Strandherd-Armstrong bridge is built, the Strandherd/Greenbank lot will only be a five-minute drive from the Riverview lot. While the short distance between lots is great when one lot fills up, it just doesn't make a lot of sense to have lots so close to each other, especially when there is room to expand at the existing Riverview lot.

In 2013, if everything goes according to schedule, new Park and Ride lots will appear in Chapel Hill in Orleans, which will be part of the Cumberland Transitway linking to Blair station in 2021, Hazeldean Road between Kanata and Stittsville, and one in Kanata North, presumably on the route 93 line. In 2014 or 2015, Millenium Park and Ride will be expanded and a new lot will appear on Cambrian Road.

OC Transpo wants to continue down the path of providing more parking lots for customers because the spaces fill up quickly.  But, most of the spaces are free, so, of course, there will be overcrowded parking lots.   Who doesn't want free stuff?  If OC Transpo wants ideas for revenue, they may want to look at expanding their price system for the Park and Rides.  Why not charge for spots in the morning and leave the weekends free?  Those parking on a weekday morning can enjoy dealing with less crowded lots once people figure it's no longer free.

It's disappointing to be reading plans about proposed Park and Rides when there is no mention about improved local service. Improving local service would be drawing people away from parking their cars and encouraging people to take transit from their home.  It's probably more expensive to run more local buses all year long, but Park and Rides aren't cheap either; The facilities must be maintained and secured.

If there is one thing OC Transpo is quick at doing, it's building Park and Rides.  There will be more of them as long as there is available land and there is plenty of that in Ottawa's suburbs.