What can LRT do for Capital Ward? Quite a bit, actually

January 2013

In December, when City Council approved the construction of Ottawa’s first Light Rail Transit line (LRT), it was very clear that the overwhelming public sentiment was to get on with it. That Capital Ward residents felt this way too — despite most of us not being directly served by the line — illustrates just how big a step this will be towards a better city for everyone.

On the surface, the new Confederation Line just barely touches the ward — the only station within our boundaries is Lees, in the far northeast corner. I suppose one could have said the same of the O-Train line, with its sole Capital Ward station, Carleton, on the very western edge. Not much use to us, some have said — and perhaps still do.

Yet the impact of the O-Train has been remarkable, if subtle. Despite its limited capacity and frequency, it has been embraced by thousands of regular riders, especially but not only Carleton students. It is a pleasant, bright and efficient way to travel, even if just part of a longer journey. Plans for an extended O-Train line and doubling service frequency by 2014 will be noticeable and almost entirely positive (although some Heron Park residents may experience more noise and vibrations).

I think the New Year is an opportune time to consider how rail transit can and should benefit Old Ottawa South residents.

Fewer cars on Bank and Bronson: How does that work, when neither the Confederation or O-Train Line serves Bronson or Bank — or Main, for that matter? Simply, many drivers currently using our north-south arteries will have a better option for the east-west segments of their trips, which may encourage them to start and finish their trips by bus or maybe bike. A lot of drivers are looking for a compelling reason to not be tied to the stress and cost of daily car trips. This is a good one.