Traffic on Merivale Rd. is a disaster at the best of times. More buses will do nothing to reduce traffic woes. Merivale needs a makeover asap or else it will deteriorate beyond recognition over the next 10-15 years. LRT can help bring about the redevelopment that is necessary to save it. I hope City Hall will reconsider their plan for the Western LRT route before its too late. LRT on Carling Ave. is the only way Merivale can hope to get a line at some point in the future.
No LRT in Ward 9?
In preparation for the Transportation Committee meeting community associations united under the Knoxdale Merivale Council of Community Associations (KMC) in Ward 9 (Nepean) reviewed the proposal contained in the 2013 Transportation Master Plan (TMP).
Although, the KMC supports the general vision of the TMP "to recognize that transportation is a means to an end — namely, the protection and improvement of our quality of life; to support social, environmental and economic sustainability by giving residents the ability to meet daily needs by walking, cycling, taking transit or ridesharing" and agrees with the strategy of improving various modes of transportation, and in particular extending LRT, the slightly more ambitious modal share targets and the wider use of affordability analysis, KMC members have several reservations.
It was long argued that, the LRT, as proposed in the TMP (although affordable, green, clean and comfortable) would add time to the downtown commute for many Ward 9 residents. There are a number of existing direct, express bus routes for downtown commuters, in the morning and evening.
Implementation of the transportation network does not offer much to improve life 'after work' as residents will have to continue to rely on buses or cars to go shopping or to play. Perhaps they will be hybrid or electric cars in the future, but they will still be cars. Bus transit will only be implemented in peak periods (transit signal priority, queue jumping signals, peak period bus lanes).
There is something termed a “Neighbourhood-based personal travel planning” but it is unclear what it entails? In the meantime, the walking distance to transit stations and buses is being increased, lowering the quality of the overall pedestrian experience (especially on the many Ward 9 residential streets without sidewalks). Mature older residents and differently able adults are already at increased risks. How will the TMP vision accommodate the aging population and special needs commuters? The low floor buses are in place, but how to get to them is still a challenge for many.
Merivale Road—The geographic centre of urban/suburban Ottawa has the long-term potential to be transformed into a real ‘Main Street’, the centre of a truly walkable and liveable community. The proposed Merivale Road Density Study, to be carried out in 2014-15, will potentially have major implications for the proposals in the TMP. Meanwhile, existing congestion along Merivale Road affects residents and businesses alike. The current proposed western LRT route does not provide an opportunity for LRT or rail of any form to come to Merivale Road. Suggested peak-time bus-only lanes (on the section of Merivale that is north of Baseline) would have little impact for Ward 9 neighbourhoods. And, it is difficult to see how to implement the TMP’s plan to widen Merivale Road (from Baseline to Slack Road) for bus lanes, given the close proximity of numerous commercial buildings and some town homes to the existing roadway.
Realization of the Merivale area’s full potential will ultimately require a major transit corridor. Even today, the main commercial section of Merivale has more than reached its transportation capacity at peak periods. Yet, it appears that Merivale Road was not seriously considered for inclusion in the Affordable Rapid Transit and Transit Priority Network.
Ward 9 has four main arterial roads, Prince of Wales (POW), Merivale, Woodroffe and Greenbank. To the South-East, it is not clear what solutions will be proposed for Prince of Wales/Hunt Club, Hunt Club/Riverside or Prince of Wales/Deakin, which are all failing intersections. Further north, the majority of traffic from Prince of Wales will be directed to the Baseline/Fisher intersection, where those headed downtown will be faced with a single lane on Fisher once they cross Baseline. Perhaps it is time to consider alternate LRT solutions for Merivale and BRT for Riverside, POW and Huntclub.
A PDF of the KMC's submission to the City of Ottawa's Transportation Committee on the Transportation Master Plan, Ottawa Pedestrian Plan and Ottawa Cycling Plan Update is below.
Agnes Warda, Chair
80% of Ottawa's employment is outside the downtown core, and Ottawa was specifically designed to be served by buses and the private automobile. Ottawa was also designed to have employment strategically located in business parks inside the Greenbelt as well as in town centres in the Three Satellite cities of Kanata, Barrhaven and Orleans. Therefore, it makes no sense to focus on an very expensive Grade Separated LRT option to ONLY bring Transit users to the downtown core of Ottawa. Instead, Ottawa needs a region-wide Transit Grid using a variety of rail (Existing and new) and Bus options (such as bus ways and bus only lanes)to allow transit users to go where the jobs, shopping and entertainment venues are located. LRTs are really longer, modern versions of streetcars that have narrower bodies than a regular city bus. LRTS often have a very high standing to seating ratio due to their narrow aislea, and their many wide doors and vestibules for each set of doors. City Buses, especially Double Deckers have a lower standing to seating ratio than LRTs, and will both attract and retain more transit riders on long run (Express) routes than will LRTs, which are really only designed to comfortably serve short runs in the centre of a city. We Must focus our Transit system on where people work, and that is on a region wide basis, not just in downtown Ottawa. So don't spend all of our money on overly expensive LRTs.
I agree Michael that the City should have done a better job of looking at all its transit options, especially existing rail lines, but the City has passed the strategy point and is now executing a LRT-heavy strategy.
The KMC, upon which I serve as Secretary, is concerned that the City's current transit strategy doesn't properly take into account the amount of traffic on Merivale and what it means not only for the future of the surrounding communities, but what it also will mean mean for Nepean, as a whole.
Merivale Rd. is the heart of Nepean and it is failing. I for one do not believe more buses are the answer. With no other rail option on the table until after 2031, its LRT or bust for Merivale.