An interprovincial transit study was launched by the NCC in 2009. It was widely recognized in the National Capital Region that the separate operation of OC Transpo and STO leads in some instances to decisions that are less than optimal when considering the transportation needs of the region as a whole.
Some examples of shortcomings include:
The first phase of this study was completed in the fall of 2009 and involved consultations with various community groups on what they saw as the issues and priorities to be addressed in improving inter-provincial transit in this region. The CCC participated in these consultations.
In February 2010 a brief presentation was made to the public consultation group (PCG) outlining a list of possible transit improvements in the short, medium, and longer term and group and public feedback was solicited.
In Nov 2010, the consultants released a report summarizing the 230+ responses from the public during Phase IV of this study. A final report was scheduled for early 2011.
That final report was eventually released to the public in Apr 2013. Perhaps a decision was made to delay until the proposed Ottawa East-West LRT project was committed and the construction contract signed? (Fall 2012)
The CCC focused primarily on the long term infrastructure proposals which we hoped would lead to a reduction of the large number of STO buses (> 120 per peak hour) operating on Rideau and Wellington streets as well as to enabling an improved transit system which might lead to an increase of citizens using transit with reduced operational costs.
Final Infrastructure Reccommendation
The final infrastructure recommendation is to leave the STO bus operations as currently planned for the introduction of the Rapibus in fall 2013 until the capacity of the Rapibus system is reached (anticipated in the 2031 timeframe). At that time the Rapibus system should be converted to LRT and cross the Ottawa river on (a yet to be determined) link west of the downtown area. Once across the river, this LRT would either terminate and transfer passengers to the existing Ottawa east-west LRT line, or possibly an additional parallel LRT line would be built towards downtown Ottawa, either on the surface or in a second tunnel. A decision on which of those options would be the best was deferred to another study to be done at a future time. (It was considered unlikely that an LRT from Gatineau would be able to share the existing Ottawa downtown LRT tunnel as it would require trains more frequently than every 90 seconds which was believed unfeasable). The net result of this set of recommendations is that the Rideau/Wellington Street corridors can expect to carry high levels of STO bus traffic (~100 buses per hour at rush hours) similar to today until at least 2031.
The final report and it's numerous supporting documents are posted on the Interprovincial Transit Study Resources page. (editor's note: as of Nov 2013 this NCC site appeared to be non-operational)
As an alternative, some of the detailed reports are available at the links below:
A_Existing Conditions and Issues (data on current passenger flows etc)
C_Evaluation Criteria (how various integration scenarios were compared and evaluated)
D1_Transit city building (the policy framework used to guide the study)
D2_User Focus (STO-OC Transpo changes to acheive a more seamless transit experience)
D5_Governance (How to jointly manage interprovincial transit issues)
D4_Infrastructure (Interprovincial Transit Infrastructure changes recommended)
D3_Operations (How to improve joint operations between STO and OC Transpo)
Infrastructure Reccomendation Details: (Summary of Document D4 above)
Some background data that serves as useful context:
In order to arrive at the final recommendation, the Supporting Infrastructure Document went through the following analysis to narrow down the various alternatives:
A. LRT chosen vs Bus
B. Interprovincial LRT Termination point in Gatineau to be at Lorraine (farthest east)
C. Crossing Location chosen to be West of Downtown vs East
D. Termination of LRT into Ottawa: TBD
Lacking a definitive answer on how the recommended solution is to be integrated into the Ottawa downtown, it throws into question the viability of the whole strategy. A skeptic could summarize the net result as "the Study team felt this was too hard a problem to solve and decided not to make a decision instead punting it to the future". That is not thebest of a strategies.
Instead, the study recommended to focus on more shorter term measures such as moderate improvements to the OC Transpo/STO user experience and joint governance issues as well as making some operational adjustments that might lead to slightly better efficiencies.
The report also mentioned several other smaller interim possibilities that could be considered.
i) Addition of a downtown circulator bus route: A new bus route should be created that loops between the 2 downtowns. This would provide a useful daytime route for office workers shuttling between meetings on both sides of the river and for tourists. This route would not contribute meaningfully to addressing peak period capacity issues, increasing the desireability of transit as a commuting option to either downtown, nor help to solve the problem of the volume of buses on Rideau/Wellington streets.
ii) Addition of interprovincial bus service across a new east end bridge. At some point after 2021 a new bridge in the east end may exist. The addition of some bus routes across this bridge would enable some transit users to travel between the east ends of both cities without needing to journey through the downtown. This would enable a reduction of about 10% of the number of STO buses on Rideau/Wellington streets (ie. 10-15 less buses per hour) and may lead to some additional interprovincial transit passengers.
iii) O-Train extension to Gatineau: There could be some mid-term benefit in extending the current diesel O-Train across the Prince of Wales bridge and to downtown Hull on existing track. This would require some upgrades to the bridge but would be money well spent if the long term vision was to eventually use that bridge for an LRT as well. This interim O-Train extension would not be of much benefit to Gatineau passengers bound for Ottawa (except for some wishing to reach points in the south of Ottawa) but would be of moderate benefit for Ottawa passengers bound for downtown Hull. However this is not the peak direction of interprovincial travel and hence not at the top of the priority list for investment and improvement nor does it address the problem of the volume of buses on Rideau/Wellington streets.
Other Alternatives which were studied and rejected include:
1. Extension of the diesel O-Train across the Prince of Wales bridge to meet the Rapibus at
Montcalm or Casino
Bayview and transfer passengers to the Ottawa East-West LRT line
February 2010 Status Report:
The set of infrastructure improvements which had been suggested for further analysis as at February 2010 were as follows: Six different alternatives were tabled:
a) bringing STO buses across a (current rail-based) Prince of Wales bridge (which would need to be substantially altered for buses) and transferring passengers to the new Ottawa LRT system at Bayview (after it is operational in 2018).
b) The reverse of (a)…Once Ottawa has a North-South LRT running (post 2019) to extend it’s northern terminus across the Prince of Wales bridge to Gatineau where STO passengers would transfer from buses to the LRT.
c) Like (b) except this North-South LRT with every 2nd north-south train crossing the bridge to Gatineau alternating with the next north-south train which would merge onto the Ottawa east-west LRT line and continue through downtown Ottawa
d) Implementation of a loop based rail system between Gatineau and Ottawa downtown which would probably use the Portage bridge and Alexandra bridges
e) An alternating Ottawa LRT line…this time the east-west line…. from Blair station where every other train would turn north at Bayview to cross the Prince of Wales bridge into Gatineau where Gatineau passengers would transfer to/from STO buses there. This would alternate with regular Ottawa east-west LRTs which would travel the full east-west line from Blair to the Ottawa far western terminus
f) Extending Ottawa’s downtown tunnel with a branch that travels north under lowertown to cross the river into Gatineau. Ottawa’s future north-south LRT would (after travelling through Ottawa downtown) branch off north to serve downtown Gatineau.
What has not yet been supplied is any kind of data or analysis that could be used to evaluate between the advantages and disadvantages of each of these options. Information such as anticipated ridership analysis, capital costs, operating costs, etc is required.
The study website as of Sept 2010 was missing any kind of visibility of the upcoming study steps, deliverables, or timelines, however it has been verbally stated by the NCC that a final report/recommendation is due by the end of 2010.
This is the NCC's interprovincial transit study website.
Nov 2010 update:
The consultants have released their report summarizing the 230+ responses from the public during the current (Phase IV) of this study. The majority of responses on the infrastructure topic favored an LRT based solution forming a loop crossing the Ottawa River both west and east of the downtown and terminating on the Gatineau side at boul Lorain.
Transit Issues >