Ottawa Needs a Transit Grid.

Instead of focusing most of our Transit resources in the traditional core of the Old City of Ottawa, we must have a combined bus, and rail system that allows all transit users to go anywhere in the region.

People also need to be able to use the transit system OUTSIDE of the peak hours, and on weekends!

A cost effective and useful Transit System is one where people use it for variety of uses such as Going to Work/Home, Going Shopping, and getting to recreation and entertainment locations.

What I am proposing is that we return to the original plan known as the ORTEP, or the Ottawa Rapid Transit Expansion Plan . This plan was a result of the Ottawa Rapid Transit Expansion Study or ORTES. Under Mayor O'Brien a special Transit Task force recommenced a transit style grid for Ottawa.

The City of Toronto is using a Transit gird for its future transit network called "Transit City".

Ottawa should do the same. We need a transit grid that serves all of the Ottawa Region, not just downtown Ottawa.

That is how you build a sustainable society.

I also feel that to be a truly sustainable, the City of Ottawa should be looking at a 60 percent Transit use for its residents.


More on ORTEP and previous Rail-based Transit studies.

The following two images are scans of copies of the ORTEP plan that was given to me at a public Open house event. This event was hosted by the City of Ottawa. The ORTEP plan was created by the City of Ottawa.

This image shows the extent of the ORTEP network.

Note the use of EXISTING railway lines for Transit use, and how rail, and bus-based transit would allow for TRANSFERS between the various transit lines.

Even though Kanata has a high employment base (58%), many of its residents travel to downtown Ottawa to work. However; a significant amount of those Kanata residents also commute to the Merivale area Business Parks in the south end of the region inside the Greenbelt. This area was at the time part of the City of Nepean. Take note that there is a direct rail line that goes from Kanata to the Merivale Business Parks. That was identified as being a vital component of the ORTEP Transit network, yet today the use of existing railway lines is not part of the immediate plan for public transit. Why? Shouldn't we be using what transit infrastructure is in place to have a cost effective transit system?

Take note that many of the Rail Lines also go directly through existing Business and Industrial parks in Ottawa. This is where the majority of people work, NOT downtown. Only about 20% of the population in Ottawa work in the core of the city.

A transit grid such as was proposed in the City of Ottawa ORTEP Plan would allow transit users to go there they need to go . Such as Grid would also mean that they would not have to first go through downtown Ottawa. We don't require that all traffic go through downtown Ottawa, so why do we have a Transit system that requires Transit users to go through downtown Ottawa, REGARDLESS of where they actually want to go?

The next image shows the Recommended Rapid Transit corridors


Transit should take people where they need to go.

The following map shows the distribution of employment in the City of Ottawa. Take special note of how many people work outside the downtown core. The ratio of people working outside the core to inside the downtown core is about 5 to 1. Surely, a transit system should be designed to take "Employment Demographics" into account? The old old ORTEP system DID take this into account, but the new downtown focused LRT system bypasses employment zones, and misses many of these employment zones altogether, even though there are existing rail lines that go through, or beside these major employment zones. You will not get people to take public transit if the transit does not take them to where they want to go.


Employment Zones Map

Please take note that the employment statistics which I used to create this map comes from the 2006 City of Ottawa Employment Survey. Employment will continue to go in these Business/Industrial Parks for a variety of reasons such as availability of land, and the cheaper cost of land which is cheaper than in the core of the city. Trucks and rail are better able to serve businesses and industries in these parks than in the core of the city. for these reasons employment all over North American has been moving to business parks. Even in cities such as Toronto which have a very dense cores, 60 % of the white collar workers no longer in the downtown core. And in Ottawa even a slight majority of Federal Public Servants no longer work in the downtown core of Ottawa. Again, we MUST has a transit system that take people to where they need to go. A Transit Grid is the Cost Effective solution (Because the rail lines and bridges are already in place) for Ottawa, not an Expensive "downtown focused" Light Rail System.


Employment Zones and Railway lines.

The above map shows the same employment zones in relation to existing Railway Lines and Railway corridors and Rights of Ways in Ottawa. what is clear is that Ottawa should be using these existing Railway corridors to move people to the MAJOR employment zones that are outside of the downtown core of Ottawa. This is where the majority of people work, yet these same zones are NOT being properly served by Public Transit.

These employment zones were located around existing railway corridors for the purposes of future Rail-Based commuting and freight movement.



A closer view of Two Major Business/Industrial Parks in the south end of the City.

The above map shows the major Business/Industrial parks west of the Rideau River between Prince of Wales and Merivale Road, and the Saint Laurent Business/Industrial Park. The map also shows the Leitrim Business/Industrial Park. Note that all of these Business/Industrial Parks have rail lines that go directly through them, or just beside them as in the case of the Leitrim Business Park. Also please note the Hunt Club Bridge which goes over the Rideau River which allows car-based commuters to cross the Rideau River from East to West, and vice versa. In this part of Ottawa Rail-Based commuter services are not in use, nor are any planned for the immediate future even though they go directly to those high employment zones. The Merivale Road sector for example has more employees than does Tunney's Pasture. There are surprisingly no east-west OC Transpo bus routes that allow commuters to travel any substantial distance in this part of Ottawa. The only option that commuters have in this part of the city is to use their own automobiles. That is why automobile congestion is, and will continue to be a major problem in this part of the city. Yet if we ran Diesel Light Rail Trains such as the O-Train on the existing east-west rail lines we would give commuters a viable and cost effective alternative to automobile use. We could also put transit stations where OC Transpo buses could transfer passengers to and from the east-west rail lines to allow commuters to go where they want to go. So... why don't we use these existing rail lines for public transit use? There is NO reason why we should, and could not do this. We must create a transit grid using existing ROAD and RAIL to allow commuters to go where they need to go!


The Greenbelt and Satellite Cities

Greenbelt Map

The above regional map (Ottawa is a Region, not just a City) shows the relation of the satellite cities of Kanata, Barrhaven and Orleans to the Greenbelt, and the part of the city inside the greenbelt. The map shows that many of the Business/Industrial parks are as close, or closer to the core of the city. We need a transit grid which allows the use of existing rail and road networks which will allow transit users to go where they need to go (Work, Shopping, Recreation), otherwise these potential transit users will take the car since transit will not be seen as a viable alternative. Let us build a Transit Grid so that the people of Ottawa will consider Public Transit as the Commuting system of choice. Let us use the ORTEP!



Other Plans to use existing rail lines for Public Transit.


The ORTEP plan was not the first plan to use our existing railway lines for public transit in the Ottawa areas. There were many other plans proposed by the Federal Government, Canadian Pacific Rail, as well as Canadian National. During the time that the City of Nepean was in existence Canadian National proposed a plan that would use the railways lines in Nepean and Ottawa for Commuter rail.

The following are some scans of a report that was made to the Nepean Chamber of Commerce about such a proposal .


1) Concept for Ottawa - Barrhaven Shuttle.

And here is the map that shows the extent of this proposed rail-based transit network.

Take note of the railway station/stop at the Colonnade-Merivale Industrial Parks



2) Ottawa Citizen Editorial on Commuter Rail for Ottawa. December 31, 1993.




If the people of Ottawa want a cost effective and environmentally sustainable public transit network then we have to use what transit infrastructure is already in place and that means using our existing railway lines.




Michael Kostiuk

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Last Update: July 21, 2014.