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To David: in the discussion about the cellphones you wrote:

"On a unrelated note, which probably should be a thread of its own, I find there is something interesting about the initial proposals and how they involved into the service we'll be having. The design itself, especially those from the uOttawa / Campus station being underground, shared a lot more with heavy rail / subway than a more broad definition of LRT. I think uOttawa benefits quite a bit from being a ground-level station (though quirky in some ways). Platform screen doors (PSD) have been over the years probably one of the most debated topic I've seen through transit projects, as they have been proven to indeed reduce the risks of accidents. However, I can only think of 1 or 2 implementations (Sydney Metro and Disneyland Hong Kong train line), but always in regions with more "clement" weather than what we have in Ottawa. I would assume we would either need all stations to be contained, therefore thermally controlled and maintained more intensively, increasing costs on all front."

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I was a student at was then named The University of Ottawa a long, long time ago. I lived in Centre Town and crossed the Canal to go to the campus.

What struck me then was the succession of "rights of ways": Queen Elizabeth Drive, the Rideau Canal, Colonel By Drive, Nicholas Street, Waller Street, the Transitway...

I do not think it was a bad idea to imagine an underground station for this particular location because of how busy the street level is already.

However, I agree with the decision to build it above ground. First it would have been much more expensive and complex to build, and second, the traffic remains manageable with the way the station has been designed. Don't spend more than you have to on projects like that.

One of the most important things when building a rapid transit is to have a set of tracks uninterrupted by traffic lights. You go around, above or under the obstacles. Since the Transitway provided that right of way, it was just a matter of adjusting the elements together.

We can still see on YouTube, animation of what it would have looked like with an LRT sharing the road with vehicles, Streetcars basically, and not a real solution to traffic jams already experienced by the buses. That would have been the cheapest solution for light rail, but it wouldn't have been anywhere near the capacity of the O-Train.

So I am grateful for the decision to have a tunnel Downtown. Maybe someone knows how old this video animation is...

 

 

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Flexity Outlook is 20cm taller, but Citadis is 11cm wider. I agree they do look pretty good, especially in the TTC livery and compared to the CLRV / ALRV, a lot more modern and accessible. This is an

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Given the on-street rail, it seems to correspond with the first proposed expansion to the O-Train (2006), which would have been the on-street, with no dedicated ROW. This was later cancelled at the end of the year by the new mayor.

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As for dedicated right of way vs mixed traffic, it really comes to down to what the project wants to achieve. In the case of Ottawa, the three main reasons were the following:

  • Downtown core is engorged
  • Need for additional capacity
  • Inability (or unwillingness) to operate dedicated fleets for BRT, without compromising the rest of the network

Of those 3, 2 can be addressed with on-street (additional capacity with higher density vehicles, dedicated fleet), but it doesn't address the physical limitations experienced in the downtown core. Slater / Albert is often completely backlogged with buses, from one end of downtown to another.

So why go dedicated ROW? Right now, the network will operate with around 9,000-10,000 passengers per hour, per direction. This is a bit more capacity than the Transitway currently. The difference? Yes it is entirely dedicated to the trains with the tunnel, but also gives room for expansion. We can easily reach 17,000-20,000 passengers per hour, giving us similar capacity to traditional heavy rail networks, without the same level of capital costs. This is even before extending the length of the trains (getting us close to 27k per hour), or interlining express / local trains (which is technically possible, but not required or ideal for now). The LRT is the new transitway from when it came out, but with more capacity for upgrade.

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As for underground vs overground, uOttawa station requires us to consider many factors.

  • The flow of traffic within campus
  • Use of space around the station
  • The location of other stations
  • The possibility of external connections
  • Exisiting ROW for transit

uOttawa has changed considerably in recent year, with the construction of the new FSS building, STEM complex and CRX building which have progressively brought most of the foot traffic (and therefore need for transit) closer to uOttawa station than Laurier street.

With a location "so close" to the core of the campus, it creates a better incentive for usage of transit. Since putting a station at Laurier, uOttawa and Rideau would be (likely) way too close for no real benefit, the actual distance between Rideau and uOttawa fits an ideal profile for the tunnel entry point, therefore reducing costs versus building the portal between Lees and uOttawa (more tunneling).

On the other hand, space is indeed limited, but what else could occupy the corridor currently used by the alignment or the previous transitway? Most building along it are recent, or have been built after the introduction of the Transitway or LRT, so there's not really a need or actual benefit to freeing the surface level of this space.

The main point I can’t see to figure out which would be better is for the flow of people in and out. Underground stations are limited by the capacity of staircases and elevators, but so will be the two level concourse design of the actual station. I guess there is a case to be made in favour of either configuration, but uOttawa, as a campus, is mostly overground. If the university had a set of underground pathways, I could see more of a case for an underground station as it could interconnect with it, but otherwise makes the station more difficult to access. 

Of course there is a lot more considerations when designing it, but those are probably some of them that motivated an overground station instead of underground. Those are mostly on the top of my head and based on the reports I have red, but I think the whole picture is a lot more complex (like why is most stations not built as island platforms?!) than many of us think it is.

O-Train_Abandoned_Expansion_Plans_Map.svg.png

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To add to this:

While a protected ROW is ideal to keep headways and service consistent, shared ROW are not intrinsically worse.

Through the use of lane restrictions, priority lights at intersections and strong enforcement of those rules, a shared ROW can produce enough capacity for short local commutes.

However, Ottawa is... wide. Too wide even. The Transitway works fine where the alignment is a protected ROW because it can cover long distances, uninterrupted. If we went with the initial 2006 design, I can’t imagine the end-to-end travel times being that much quicker than a bus in little traffic.

On the other end, protected ROW are EXPENSIVE. Not only in building them, but the lost opportunity of revenue from building on the location. In addition, if stations are too close together, the average speed on the alignment might not be quicker than a shared ROW, since the vehicles cannot accelerate to its maximum speed.

For the Confederation Line and the Trillium, protected ROW makes sense as they are meant to be “their own transitway”. As the local needs will increase, building shared ROW trams can increase capacity vs traditional buses, without the full costs and implications of creating a protected ROW along the alignment.

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12 hours ago, DavidBellerive said:

While a protected ROW is ideal to keep headways and service consistent, shared ROW are not intrinsically worse.

Through the use of lane restrictions, priority lights at intersections and strong enforcement of those rules, a shared ROW can produce enough capacity for short local commutes.

However, Ottawa is... wide. Too wide even. The Transitway works fine where the alignment is a protected ROW because it can cover long distances, uninterrupted. If we went with the initial 2006 design, I can’t imagine the end-to-end travel times being that much quicker than a bus in little traffic.

In the long term transit plan adopted by the city (https://ottawa.ca/en/city-hall/planning-and-development/official-plan-and-master-plans/transportation-master-plan), all options are being used: Light Rail with exclusive ROW, Light Rail sharing the ROW - the new streetcars in Toronto are even more massive than the O-Train! They have four or five sections and are very elegant looking.

Here is the map of what it should look like in 2031:

tmp_map_3_en.pdf

 

That's the kind we might see on Carling Avenue one day:

 

tmp_map_3_en.pdf

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The TMP is actually (IMO) as good of a layout as you can do given the geography of the city. Given we are already planning for the 2030 timeframe, it is unlikely we would see a Carling LRT before then, as Stage 3 would (likely) not be before the end of the 2020s / early 2030s. 

Like I said earlier, shared ROW is not a worse system, it just fits different needs, which a Carling LRT would fit perfectly, as it links east and west, but is not the core of the system. As for the trams in Toronto, they are Flexity Freedom (same vehicle used for the LRT in Waterloo), but they are actually a full 10m shorter per vehicle than the Citadis Spirit, but also more suited for on-street operation. The Citadis Spirit (especially in pairs like we will use them) are actually MASSIVE in terms of LRT, bringing some to almost consider it heavy rail (in the European sense) more than light rail.

The Toronto Streetcar system is always something I have been fascinated with, as it is ideal for local capacity in a downtown core, without being too invasive when compared to a dedicated ROW. It is part of the solutions to capacity issues and convergence of networks, but not the entire solution also!

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4 hours ago, DavidBellerive said:

The TMP is actually (IMO) as good of a layout as you can do given the geography of the city. Given we are already planning for the 2030 timeframe, it is unlikely we would see a Carling LRT before then, as Stage 3 would (likely) not be before the end of the 2020s / early 2030s. 

It depends on the drive of our elected officials. I would argue that if they managed to have Stage 2 starting almost at the completion of the first stage (give or take a few weeks), they could do the same for Barheaven, the link to Gatineau and Carling. Planning for Stage 3 should start right now in my view because the city is growing and it will grow faster when the O-Train starts service. It will improve our quality of life and it will attract people, I have no doubts.

 

4 hours ago, DavidBellerive said:

The Toronto Streetcar system is always something I have been fascinated with, as it is ideal for local capacity in a downtown core, without being too invasive when compared to a dedicated ROW. It is part of the solutions to capacity issues and convergence of networks, but not the entire solution also!

Yes, you are right they are shorter than the Citadis Spririt. But aren't they taller and wider? Anyhow, in terms of aesthetics, those streetcars look very nice and futuristic.

I had seen images, but when I saw them with my own eyes, it is as if they were gliding on the street because the wheels are hidden. It is particularly nice to see them make a turn.

I did not have a chance to take one, but I remember when I lived there, the streetcars - the old ones - were more comfortable than the bus. 

The new ones were launched in 2014:

 

 

Here's a video showing accessibility ramp and other features:

 

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3 hours ago, Phil said:

Yes, you are right they are shorter than the Citadis Spririt. But aren't they taller and wider? Anyhow, in terms of aesthetics, those streetcars look very nice and futuristic.

Flexity Outlook is 20cm taller, but Citadis is 11cm wider. I agree they do look pretty good, especially in the TTC livery and compared to the CLRV / ALRV, a lot more modern and accessible. This is an important advantage of low-floor design as it benefits everyone. Unfortunately, the Flexity Outlook continues to have reliability issues, as Bombardier tries to deliver them on time, not to face additional penalties, given the TTC really needs to new trams.

I know Quebec City, my hometown, is currently in the process of developing plans for its own tramway / trambus / "transitway" system, but no idea yet on the tramway they will be using. Given the procurement laws in Quebec, it will likely be a Bombardier product, or if another company is willing to assemble and have canadian / quebec content in them, so might get to ride the Flexity back home sometimes in 2026!

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