Report to / Rapport au :

Report to/Rapport au:

Transportation and Transit Committee/

Comité des transports et des services de transport en commun


and Council / et au Conseil


01 February 2003 / le 01 février 2003


Submitted by/Soumis par: Ned Lathrop, General Manager/Directeur général

Development Services Department / Services d’aménagement


Contact/Personne-ressource: Vivi Chi, Manager, Transportation Infrastructure

Gestionnaire, Infrastructure des transports

580-2424, ext. 21877,



Ref N°: ACS2003-DEV-POL-0010










That the Transportation and Transit Committee recommend Council approve:


1.                  The recommended Rapid Transit Network, which will form the basis for the transit component of the Transportation Master Plan.


2.                  The Rapid Transit Priority Plan, pending clarification on funding sources.


3.                  The direction to staff to develop an Implementation Strategy that would include timelines, funding and partnership options, and financial implications.




Que le Comité des transports et des services de transport en commun recommande au Conseil d’approuver :


1.         le réseau de transport en commun rapide recommandé, qui constitue l’assise du volet du transport en commun dans le Plan directeur des transports;


2.                  le programme prioritaire de transport en commun rapide, les précisions sur les sources de financement étant à venir;


3.                  la directive voulant que le personnel œuvre à l’élaboration d’une stratégie de mise en œuvre comprenant les échéanciers, les options de partenariat et de financement ainsi que les répercussions financières.





Ottawa is one of the most desirable cities in Canada in which to live and do business, and it is also one of the fastest growing. Over the past 20 years the city’s population has increased by 41.6%. There is no doubt that this growth has led to significant economic development, but the city is required to fund over 80% of the costs associated with that growth while receiving less than 10% of the new tax revenues generated by that growth.  This presents significant challenges to managing growth in the future. Ottawa’s attractiveness as an innovative and competitive city depends upon its ability to sustain growth without damaging its exceptional quality of life. Reliable and efficient public transit will become even more critical to our success.


As was noted in the Long-Range Financial Plan: First Steps (October 2002):


“American and European governments have recognized the critical role transportation infrastructure plays in serving as the backbone of every large city’s economy. Transportation infrastructure is a considerable expense for government, but it pays off in both ease of commercial activity and development of a high quality of life that attracts businesses and residents.”


The City of Ottawa currently has over 950 transit vehicles, 151 routes, and 46km of rapid transit service (in exclusive rights-of-way and shoulder lanes) delivering approximately 87 million trips in 2002. Ridership has increased by 25% over the past 6 years. This increase in public transit ridership has been achieved inside a challenging environment. Ottawa has not received continual public transit infrastructure funding from the Province of Ontario since the mid 1990’s, and Canada is the only G8 country without a national urban transit investment fund. As a result, although the bus transitway had bold beginnings, an ageing fleet and inability to fund expansion to new areas of growth now hamper its success.


Changing the way the city develops is one way to maximize the city’s investment in the infrastructure needed to promote economic growth. Critical to building a more sustainable city is investing in high quality transit, which in turn reduces or defers the need to build more roads. This alternative provides significant side benefits, such as less air and water pollution, more compact and efficient development, and creation of high quality community living.


In addition, as a Partner for Climate Protection (a greenhouse gas reduction campaign set up by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities), Ottawa has made a public commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In support of this program and the Kyoto Protocol, the new Official Plan commits to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (and air pollution):


Providing Infrastructure – A transportation system that emphasizes transit, walking and cycling will be built to complement a compact city, where a mix of uses are located within walking and cycling distance of each other and the need to travel is reduced. In a compact city, people and activities are located along rapid-transit corridors and in areas that can be serviced with quality transit, creating a built-in ridership for transit and reducing the need for car travel. Other infrastructure, such as water and sewage facilities, is provided in a way that reinforces the City’s commitment to a compact city and building safe and healthy communities.”


If implemented, the OP policies will lead to a reduction in energy use, especially the burning of fossil fuels in the transportation system. An important leg of this commitment is increasing transit usage, which in the long term will decrease overall infrastructure costs.


Progress to date


The City’s Transportation and Transit Committee is an active partner in building a vision for Ottawa in 2020. At its 17 October 2001 meeting, the Committee reviewed a transit strategy that supports the city’s vision for a competitive international city that successfully balances business, development and liveability. The strategy outlined the steps required to meet these goals and signalled the beginning of the Transportation Master Plan (TMP) updating process. Progress to date includes:


n           November 2001: Committee approved the statement of work for the Rapid Transit Expansion Study (RTES).

n           February 2002: A consultant team began work on RTES.

n           June 20, 2002: First public consultation open house.

n           December 4, 2002: A presentation to Committee on rapid transit corridor options.

n           December 2002: Second series of public consultation open houses.

n           February 2003: The study is nearing completion. This report presents the key results.


RTES Study Facts


Purpose: The purpose of RTES is to develop a strategic plan for rapid transit, taking into consideration region-wide growth projections. The study provides the rapid transit component of the Transportation Master Plan (TMP) and both supports and is supported by the guiding principles of the draft Official Plan (OP). The study is conducted within the provincial and federal Environmental Assessment framework so that it contributes to the need and justification components of any subsequent environmental assessments.


Funding: RTES is funded in part by Transport Canada and the Green Municipal Funds (a partnership of the Government of Canada and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities), and by the Province of Ontario through the Transit Investment Partnership (TIP) program.


RTES Assumptions


Population and Employment Growth: The OP, TMP and RTES share the same projected population and employment levels and distributions for the year 2021. These include that the city’s population could increase by 50% in the next 20 years, from 800,000 to 1,200,000. The number of jobs in the city could increase from 500,000 to 750,000. Where people live and work are the primary factors in determining travel needs. The number of homes and jobs with convenient access to the rapid transit system is critical to its use.


Transit Ridership: RTES assumes that transit travel would double from about 15% to about 30%. Given the increase in population, this means that the number of transit trips would triple from 87 million to 260 million annually over the next 20 years.


RTES Recommendation


RTES recommends a future rapid transit network for Ottawa, identifies appropriate technology within specific corridors and proposes an action plan for those transportation corridors.



The recommended Rapid Transit Network and Priority Plan are shown in Documents 1 and 2, respectively.


The Definition and Role of Rapid Transit


OC Transpo services consist of a number of components including buses in mixed traffic, buses operating on the transitway (exclusive right-of-way), the O-Train, and Para Transpo. For purposes of this study, rapid transit is defined as a convenient, fast and frequent public transportation service that features a high carrying capacity. Rapid transit operates on its own right-of-way, as a separate system or in its own lane in shared corridors, and is given traffic signal priority when crossing general traffic. It has stations that are well integrated with adjacent development and with the surrounding transportation network to maximize accessibility.


In the study, three generic rapid transit technologies were identified as applicable to the Ottawa situation:





The rapid transit system will be key to attracting and serving the increased ridership target. The recommended rapid transit network has been developed to provide extensive high-quality service to as broad an area as possible, and to serve significant employment nodes. To achieve its goals, the rapid transit network must be complemented by land use and operational policies that support transit use and discourage unnecessary use of the single-occupant automobile.

Study Structure and Process


The study team was lead by a consultant assisted by staff. An Advisory Committee comprised of senior staff, three councillors, and public and stakeholder representatives provided overall direction. A Technical Committee comprised of staff from municipal, provincial and federal jurisdictions provided technical guidance. A Sounding Board comprised of public and stakeholder representatives and individuals provided general input and comment. Consultation was also augmented with a series of open houses and the use of a project web site.


The study was undertaken in phases, with each phase building on earlier work. Land use forecasts were used to identify the strongest travel demand patterns for future rapid transit and to ensure that the system responds to customer needs. Forecasted travel demand patterns are shown in Document 3.


Potential rapid transit corridors were identified from previous transportation plans, stakeholder and public consultation, and field observations. These are shown in Document 4.


The strongest travel demand patterns were matched with potential rapid transit corridors in a screening process to determine best fit. The most promising corridors were combined into rapid transit networks and matched with suitable technology. Five network options were developed and assessed. The options varied in use of technology, extent of network and corridors used. They all contained a core of common elements.


The networks were evaluated using factors reflective of the 2020 Charting A Course principles (see Document 5 for details) to formulate a ‘preferred’ network concept, which was taken to the December open houses for public consultation.


Based on public and stakeholder input, the preferred network was refined and resulted in the recommended Rapid Transit Network (Document 1). Each segment of each corridor was then evaluated against 10 criteria to rank the various options for implementation. (See the Priority Plan for implementation in Document 2).


Key Study Findings and Conclusions


Recommended Rapid Transit Network


The recommended Rapid Transit Network is a fusion of public values, technical analysis and the feasibility of future partnerships. The network provides broad coverage using a combination of Transitway bus rapid transit on existing corridors and new system light rail transit for emerging corridors.


The network shows the expansion of the O-Train corridor to downtown. It’s envisaged that a ‘lighter’, more flexible LRT vehicle (as compared to the current O-Train technology) would be selected to operate in the downtown setting. An electric-powered, low-floor vehicle is recommended. Downtown service would be at-grade on an east-west street (possibly on Queen Street or Sparks Street depending on the outcome of an environmental assessment study). The O-Train corridor would extend southwards to the Riverside South community and eventually across the Rideau River to the Barrhaven area.


New rapid transit corridors using light rail transit would radiate from the downtown via Carling Avenue and Montreal Road. Light rail vehicles would operate in semi-exclusive rights-of-way. These corridors are seen as having strong potential for smart growth redevelopment when appropriate land-use policies and initiatives support the light rail service. The Montreal Road corridor would serve the National Research Council Campus and extend along Blair Road to Innes Road to connect with the Cumberland Rapid Transit corridor. The new Carling Avenue corridor would connect the O-Train corridor to both the Southwest and West Transitways.


An east-west LRT line between Cumberland and Kanata would operate south of the core area, connecting business parks and residential areas along the route and providing transit transfer opportunities at the O-Train corridor and the Southeast and Southwest Transitways.


In the longer term, a BRT corridor is proposed between Innes/Blair Road and the Southeast Transitway to serve the hospital area.


The downtown transitway on Albert and Slater Streets would be upgraded to increase its capacity. Passenger-friendly amenities such as enhanced waiting areas and improved service information (e.g. electronic notice board) would be provided, along with a stronger visual identity. As applications for redevelopment are received, the City can work in partnership with the applicants to identify opportunities for upgrading the integration of the transit facility with adjacent buildings.


The Transitway system would also be extended south on Woodroffe Avenue to Barrhaven, east along Highway 174 to Orleans, and west to Kanata. The West Transitway would be upgraded between Bayshore and Pinecrest to improve operations in that section. Upgraded bus transit service would be developed in the Baseline/Heron corridor to improve cross-town connectivity in two stages. In the first stage, transit priority measures would be implemented early. In the second stage, a semi-exclusive right-of-way strategy would be implemented to upgrade this important corridor.


Overall, the rapid transit network includes approximately 114 km of double tracks for electrified light rail, 42 km of transitway extension and 58 new stations. This could be implemented over a 20-year timeframe, and represents approximately five times the extent of the existing system. The rapid transit network would also require in the order of 110 LRT vehicles, 70 articulated buses and garage/maintenance and transit control facilities by 2021.


If the recommended Rapid Transit Network were not implemented, a significant amount of additional road capacity would be required – about 20 lanes of arterial roadway leading into the central city core and about 200 more lane-kilometres city-wide. The significant adverse community, environmental and social impact of this would be untenable and contrary to the city’s smart growth objectives.


To provide a similar level of service by conventional bus service within mixed traffic (i.e. improving local transit service with no further expansion of the rapid transit network), the City would require a fleet of over 500 articulated buses at a cost of approximately $400 million. These would have only half the life cycle of LRT vehicles.


The recommended Rapid Transit Network is shown in Document 1.


Development of the Priority Plan


To develop the priorities for implementation, the network was divided into segments to ease the comparative assessment. Criteria for the evaluation of each segment included the 10 criteria described in the following table:


Criteria Group


Criteria Definition

Keeping the Economy Going

  • Serve Existing Travellers


Enhancing the level of service for those already having access to rapid transit.


  • Road Construction Avoided

Providing rapid transit service to delay or avoid the need for road construction.


  • Early Growth

Population and/or employment growth is expected to be significant in the short term.


Getting it Done


  • Planning Advanced

The extent to which previous planning has been undertaken (i.e. Official Plans, secondary plans, environmental assessment approvals, property protection).


  • Ease of Implementation

The ease with which engineering and construction can proceed from a purely technical point of view.


Shaping the City

  • Smart Growth

The extent to which the corridor implementation supports Smart Growth objectives of intensification and redevelopment.


  • Better Transit Access to Existing Communities


Enhancing access to rapid transit service for existing communities.

  • Shape Form of New Development

Introducing rapid transit early as new communities develop in order to shape travel habits to use transit.


  • Network Staging Flexibility

Ability of the corridor to be implemented in stages or within a variable timeframe.


  • Downtown

The extent to which congestion of the downtown is eased or transit trips are able to bypass the downtown area or new downtown capacity is provided.



For comparative analysis, the segment scores were multiplied by a weighting given to each criterion, and the totals added to represent the relative ranking of the segment. The criteria were weighted in four different ways. Initially, all criteria were given equal weighting; then the criteria were combined into three thematic groups; then the group ratings were adjusted to reflect varied emphasis on ‘Keeping the Economy Going’ or ‘Shaping the City’. It is significant to note that regardless of the weighting scenarios, the relative priorities remained constant.


To develop an action plan, the following implementation strategies were adopted:


Building upon the success of the O-Train pilot project, the first priority is to expand the LRT service into the downtown to the Rideau Centre, as well as extending south to the developing Riverside South community. From the Rideau Centre, the LRT service can continue eastward along Montreal Road to the Cumberland corridor.


Upgrades to the transitway can be implemented on an ongoing basis on Albert/Slater Streets, the West Transitway and the Woodroffe corridor. Upgrades would assume expansion of and enhancements to the current bus fleet to increase the quality of transit service commensurate with the expected growth in transit travel demand on the existing system.


Subsequent priorities include extensions of the system into developing areas and provision of a new east-west service bypassing the downtown and serving south industrial parks.


While this report focuses on the expansion of the rapid transit component of the public transit system, the OP and TMP objective of increasing overall ridership to 30% share of travel will require expansion of the transit bus fleet and supporting facilities. There is a continual need to modernize and expand the fleet and garage facilities, to improve passenger amenities and fare collection systems, and to expand park-and-ride facilities.


A table of recommended improvement priorities is included in Document 2.


Supporting Policies


One of the major goals of the Official Plan is to create a city that relies more on public transportation - changing people’s current travel behaviour to support sustainable transportation choices. Policy areas that support rapid transit ridership fall into four categories:


Land Use


System Integration


Quality of Service


Demand Management


These policies are interdependent and their synergies achieve the desired change in travel behaviour. The overall success of the policies can be measured in increased ridership on a per capita basis and on the increased share of transit usage relative to auto use.


Interprovincial Transit


RTES identified the potential for interprovincial transit corridors at three locations – the Prince of Wales Bridge corridor, the Chaudière/Portage Bridge corridor and the Alexandra/Macdonald-Cartier Bridge corridor. It was concluded that a detailed study is required to assess these and other interprovincial transit corridors and their impacts on the downtown Ottawa and Gatineau, including consequences on King Edward Avenue. The statement of work for this separate study, with a structure and process under the joint direction of the City of Ottawa, City of Gatineau and the National Capital Commission, is currently being prepared. The statement of work will be presented to Committee for approval in the near future before study initiation.


Comparing Bus and Rail Technologies


Based on review of existing transit operating systems, it is generally accepted within the rapid transit industry that the relative capacities of BRT and LRT are comparable, with LRT having a greater capacity (up to 30%).


The right-of-way requirements for BRT and LRT are comparable.


The capital costs for LRT are generally greater than that for BRT. However, depending upon the extent and nature of the rapid transit rail service, operating costs for LRT can be lower when the vehicles are used to capacity, resulting in lower life cycle costs and lower costs per passenger-kilometre. Comparative capital and operating costs were acquired from Toronto, Calgary, Detroit, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, San Diego and San Jose. Summary details are included in Document 6.


Public comments comparing LRT and BRT include:


The current Talent vehicle used on the O-Train corridor is not considered suitable for use in a downtown or urban setting. For this reason, lighter vehicles are recommended for the Ottawa system. LRT vehicles that travel in urban areas and are integrated into urban and/or downtown streetscapes have the following features:


Conversion of the Transitway to LRT


The transitway has been designed to be convertible to LRT.


The current Transitway incorporates exclusive right-of-way, a ‘rapid’ transit characteristic that allows faster travel than conventional bus transit. With the exception of the downtown, the Transitway has sufficient capacity for the next 20 years.


Conversion of the Transitway to LRT would be expensive:

1.      There will be service disruption during conversion. Rapid transit service would, in essence, cease while rail construction takes place.

2.      Value for money is not sufficient to justify conversion. Conversion of the Transitway from Orleans to Kanata would cost about $1 billion and provide unnecessary under-utilized capacity.


The study concludes that with limited financial resources, it is better to invest in new rapid transit corridors than to replace an existing one. It is not considered cost-effective to convert the Transitway to LRT at this time.


With further upgrades and extensions, the existing Transitway will continue to play an essential role in the recommended Rapid Transit Network. The network is one in which BRT and LRT are effectively blended to complement each other.


Next Step: Implementation Strategy


The Priority Plan provided a preliminary overview of the staging of the rapid transit network. The next step is to develop a strategy to implement the priorities identified. In addition to environmental assessments required before construction can begin in any of the corridors, there are still many planning issues to be resolved.


With the approval of this report in principle, the City will be embarking on an extensive, long-term light-rail transit program. Certain critical issues need to be addressed, such as:


The implementation strategy will outline all planning matters, studies, procurement procedures and approval processes required, including timelines. The strategy will also describe funding opportunities and financial implications.


Funding Opportunities


The viability of the rapid transit network depends on collaborating with senior levels of government to obtain cost sharing for implementation. Current funding opportunities include the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund (CSIF) and the Ontario Transit Investment Partnership (TIP) program. Federal and provincial support of this study suggests that sustainable transportation alternatives are also a priority for senior levels of government. Upon Committee and Council approval of this report, requests for funding, using the Rapid Transit Network and Priority Plan as a basis for preparing submissions to CSIF and TIP, will be pursued immediately. In addition, the possibilities of public-private partnerships should also be investigated as a mechanism to assist in the implementing the transit program.




The recommendations of this study form a general plan for rapid transit expansion over approximately a 20 year time horizon. Implementation of the priority plan will require additional studies such as environmental assessments, strategic long-term funding partnerships and a relentless commitment by the City to a series of policy initiatives to convert use of personal occupancy vehicles to public transportation vehicles. Environmental implications will be identified and mitigated during the appropriate environmental processes.





The study incorporated a number of approaches for consultation:

n           membership on the Advisory Committee, Technical Committee, and Sounding Board

n           two sets of open house public consultations including comment-questionnaire sheets

n           a project web site for the dissemination of information and identification of study contacts

n           one-on-one liaison through emails, correspondence, telephone conversations and meetings with individuals


The primary means to ensure that adequate opportunities were provided for the general public and interested parties to provide meaningful input into the study were the open houses held on 20 June 2002 and 4 and 5 December 2002. The open houses were widely advertised in the local media and were supplemented by direct invitation to individuals on the study’s mailing list.


Approximately 150 people attended the first open house held in June at Lansdowne Park. The study purpose, process, corridor options and assessment process were presented for public review and comment. The public’s opinion was also solicited regarding technology choices and transit service attributes.


In response to a desire for greater geographic coverage, the second set of open house events took place at four locations on 4 and 5 December 2002 - in east, west, south and central venues – with approximately 700 people attending. The short-list of rapid transit corridor candidates, the alternative rapid transit networks (including technology options) and the preferred rapid transit network concept were presented.


Public response to the open houses was positive and supportive of the study findings. Of the approximately 300 comment-questionnaire forms returned after the second set of open houses, a significant majority (80%) of the respondents supported the preferred rapid transit network concept. Respondents expressed a strong preference (75%) for rail transit over bus transit. These responses were incorporated into the finalization of the recommended rapid transit network. The consultation process is further detailed in Document 7.




At the time of printing of this report it is not possible to provide full and detailed costing, or to confirm the extent of funding available from senior levels of government.


The feasibility of the recommended rapid transit network is highly dependent on the funding support of senior levels of government.


From a high-level planning perspective, the network represents a gross capital expenditure in the order of an average of $150 million per year (in current year dollars) over the next 20 years.   Full implementation of the projects identified in the study is not currently  provided for in the current capital forecast or the Long Range Financial Plan.


The implementation strategy described in this report will investigate more fully all funding opportunities and financial implications. This implementation strategy will be presented for Committee and Council approval, and future year capital budgets and forecasts, including the Long Range Financial Plan, will be updated as required.




Document 1 – Recommended Rapid Transit Network

Document 2 – Priority Plan

Document 3 – Travel Demand Patterns

Document 4 – Potential Corridors

Document 5 – Evaluation Process & Criteria

Document 6 – Characteristics of Rapid Transit Technologies

Document 7 – Consultation Program




Following Committee and Council approval of these recommendations, Development Services Department, in collaboration with other departments, will develop an Implementation Strategy for the Priority Plan described in this report. Steps will also be undertaken to apply for funding from external sources such as the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund and the Transit Investment Partnership program.



RECOMMENDED RAPID TRANSIT NETWORK                                 Document 1


PRIORITY PLAN                                                                                         Document 2



TRAVEL DEMAND PATTERNS                                                               Document 3


POTENTIAL CORRIDORS                                                                        Document 4


EVALUATION PROCESS AND CRITERIA                                             Document 5





CONSULTATION PROGRAM                                                                   Document 7