BRT to LRT in Ottawa

Until now, Ottawa invested in BRT to move transit customers into the city. This of course to an operationally expensive transit system as employee costs can be as much a 80% of a transit system’s budget.

(Ottawa’s bus photo’s courtesy of Mr. Haveacow)

With BRT, buses jams were frequent and city streets became congested with buses.

Congested busways tend not to be very efficient in moving people.

Congestion extended to the busways and the transit system began to buckle under the sheer weight of buses used.

To alleviate bus congestion and associated diesel pollution, as well as reducing operating costs, Ottawa is now building with modern LRT, using European style modular cars, built by Alstom of France.

Whilst the cost of building with LRT is much higher than building busways, especially ifAi?? subways are built, the operating costs are much lower (not so much lower when including subways) as one modern tram and one driver, is as efficient as six buses and six bus drivers. Even someone doing calculations on the back of an envelope can understand the economy of operating modern light rail.

Now a memo for those who want a Broadway subway. The preceding pictures show the level of bus congestion needed before transit authorities begin to plan for light rail. On Broadway with a B-line bus every 3 minutes or so does not indicate a need for a subway, rather it indicates a need for better management. Current bus flows along Broadway warrant an economy LRT line and nothing more and of course when ridership demands more service, modern LRT can meet the challenge affordably.


7 Responses to “BRT to LRT in Ottawa”
  1. eric chris says:

    It is surprising that it took Ottawa so long to replace BRT. It isn’t surprising that Ottawa stayed away from sky train. It seems as if the Confederation Line (LRT) in Ottawa has a listed ridership of 10,700 pph to 24,000 pph over just 12.5 km compared with the Canada Line (pseudo-sky train) having a listed ridership of 6,600 pph to 15,000 pph over 18.5 km in Vancouver (see page 29 of the following link):

    So, the Confederation Line with LRT has about double the capacity of elevated transit (sky train) over a much shorter distance. Sky train is a sham:

    Zwei replies: The 15,000 pphpd is pure speculation, as built and due to the small 40m t0 50m station platforms, the best the Canada Line can do is 7,500 pphpd.

  2. eric chris says:

    I don’t believe the 15,000 pph capacity of the Canada Line, either. My only concern about the Ottawa LRT line is that the 13 stations over 12.5 km route are going to be about 1 km apart and too distant to reach by foot for residents living near the LRT line.

    This will require extra transit buses operating in parallel to the LRT line and will not only clog up the roads unnecessarily (leading to pollution and noise from the diesel buses as in the case of the Canada Line in Vancouver) but also increase operating costs! There is too much of an obsession with “speed” when it comes to rapid transit. At the end of the day, an extra 30 seconds per stop merely adds five minutes to the commute at most if 10 more stops are added to make the LRT line easy to reach by foot.

    So what? Is this going to deter anyone from taking transit? Hardly, especially when parking if you drive is likely impossible or expensive in downtown Ottawa.

    With 23 LRT stops spaced about 568 metres apart, instead, all the ancillary shuttle buses (in parallel to the LRT line) are eliminated and the commuting time drops for many users who now don’t have to transfer from buses to the LRT line. The added cost for the extra 10 stops for the above grade section of the LRT line is not significant. This design appears to be another mass transit blunder with too much emphasis on “fast transit” in my opinion. Too bad. It is an impressive LRT line, otherwise.

  3. Haveacow says:

    The many local routes eliminates the need for a parallel bus service. The transitway was generally built in either old railway rights of way, so there is no need for a parallel bus service or on existing road allowances that generally did not have transit in them. This was done purposely because they actively choose r.o.w.’s that would not rob existing routes of ridership but provide a true express route to downtown. The big exception to this was using the old CPR double track route west of downtown for the Western Transitway. The railway r.o.w. was parallel to Scott St. and what is now Albert St. The issue for people along this 1/3 empty, (cleared) industrial land currently under going redevelopment (Bayview Yards and Lebreton Flats), 1/3 existing but dying industrial land parcels of which already are condos and 1/3 very old but valuable residential land (St. Vincent ‘s, Hitonburg, Mechanicsville and western Centretown) already under redevelopment pressure long before this, is that 2 lanes of Scott and Albert St. is going to be used as a transitway while part of the existing western Transitway (Tunney’s Pasture Station east to downtown) is converted to LRT. Signs like, “3000+ buses a day, no way” are quite common on the front porches of various Scott and Albert St. homes. The other issue was not a dime above 2.1 Billion or no LRT. There is 0 extra money, I have said before, no deficit financing was allowed, cash only. Convert the existing stations only, since it is already an express route no one expected or wanted any extra stations.

  4. eric chris says:

    Thanks, if the LRT line is passing through areas without bus service, the line is well designed in Ottawa. If development does go ahead along the LRT line, presumably, more LRT stops can be added as needed.

    I can’t believe that Ottawa is allowing 3,000 diesel bus trips a day past homes? This is gross negligence in my mind and very bad for the health of the people who are breathing the diesel exhaust and being stressed by the noise. The lousy New Flyer articulated diesel buses (about 1998 production year) used in Vancouver have some sort of pneumatic high pitched “pop” which drives people crazy on the 99 B-Line route in Vancouver, whenever the 99 B-Line stops and goes “pop” every couple of minutes. It is worse than water torture.

    Maybe Ottawa transit does not operate “express popping transit at a high frequency” until 2:30 am and is less retarded than TransLink here. Still 3,000 bus trips daily is not good in Ottawa.

  5. Haveacow says:

    There were few other options available, short of having giant rubber bands sling shot buses into downtown through the air, this is one of the problems of stating for the last 30+ years that, the Transitway was designed to be rail ready and converted to LRT sometime in the future. When you actually have to convert a hugely successful BRT system to Rail its going to be messy. I think quietly people were glad we didn’t have one of those Chinese or South American BRT systems that move 30-40,000 pphpd at peak. Imagine how many buses are going by your home over the course of a day in those situations. Keep in mind I these peope already have considerable car and bus traffic going by them already, many Ville de Gatineau residents coming from the Booth St. bridge crossing in the morning and going to the bridge in the afternoon, all heading back to Le Republique dela Bannane (The Province of Quebec). Thats always been a sticky point here that, 75 % of the border traffic is one way, coming from Quebec in the morning and going back across the provincial border in the afternoon. Thankfully with the STO now operating articulated buses, the number of buses per hour crossing the border at peak has dropped from 120 buses an hour to an average of 90-100 per hour. This causes quite a bus jam on Wellington/Rideau Streets because this mixes with 35-40 O.C. Transpo buses per hour all on a street that is not a Transitway. Yes thats right, including the daily crush on Albert and Slater (the Transitway 185-200 buses per hour) we have another coridor with 125-140 buses an hour from two different Transit operations moving about 5500-7000 pphpd. Its mostly 12 metre buses not articulated on top of that.

  6. eric chris says:

    Some interesting developments with LRT in Edmonton, too:

    In Edmonton, speed kills (funding) and transit is slowww and affordable to operate with closely spaced stops . In Edmonton, engineers know that rail transit drives up overall transit costs unless it removes buses, and LRT is designed to replace buses:

    In Edmonton, LRT is in harmony with the community. Development is controlled and you don’t have people losing their homes to 40 story towers on LRT lines. This is what you want to do with transit. Sky train does the opposite and is perverse, unfortunately.

    As I’m tying this, degenerates (students who pay almost nothing for transit and don’t appreciate it) are thrashing the bus stop, again. Unless you pay for the transit used to some reasonable extent, it is welfare or a glorified bribe to get you to live far from school to ride cheap transit. Each UBC student pays $30 monthly and it costs about $350 monthly to put each student on transit.

    Raise the fares. I paid $57 monthly for my bus pass 20 years ago as a graduate student. Swindlers at TransLink have made a mockery of transit and are being paid far too much:

  7. zweisystem says:

    Yes Eric, you are quite correct, LRT is much cheaper to operate on heavily used transit routes, than buses, if LRT replaces the buses on the said transit route. The figures I have seen is that LRT is about 50% cheaper than buses to operate, with the bonus that LRT attracts a far greater range of transit customer.

    With a subway, economy is thrown out the window, especially a SkyTrain subway operating under Broadway. Presently we have three R/T lines and TransLink is in finacial chaos. How hard is it for people to draw a line from SkyTrain to bankruptcy?