Save Our Greenspace

Ottawa Communities Fighting to Preserve Our Greenspace / Updates on the LRT Project

June 28, 2006

Transport 2000 Brief to Council on North-South LRT, David Jeanes, 28 June 2006

Transport 2000 Brief to Council on North-South LRT, David Jeanes, 28 June 2006

Transport 2000 has been one of the strongest supporters of light rail since the Region's 1996 Rapid Transit Study, and long before that. We have also participated in all studies related to the Transitway and the improvement of Ottawa's bus services. I would have been much happier to have been here defending the City's plans and helping to build public consensus, as we have done throughout the development of LRT plans since 1998. This is a crucial decision for the future of our city, for fixing urban quality of life, and for smart growth. Transport 2000 has strong confidence in the capabilities and functions of the chosen LRT vehicles. I have visited LRT systems and maintenance facilities in North America and overseas that use vehicles from all three bidders. I did this independently or as a guest of transit operators or vehicle suppliers. Transport 2000 members have contributed to LRT projects across Canada. We have had displays at over 50 local community events to promote and explain light rail.

At all stages of this LRT project we have recommended better public consultation and participation. The EA did not show the plans as they were communicated to the bidders in the excessively secret RFP. At the recent open houses, many of the drawings shown to the public were already out of date. Mr. Chartrand and his staff hardly ever appear at public meetings to answer questions in public. We have seen many Transport 2000 recommendations adopted, initially in the design of Bayview, Carling, and Greenboro stations and the passing track and signalling for the O-Train. On the current LRT project we recommended going downtown when the ORTEP study excluded it, we persuaded the City to shift the LRT line to the north side of Albert Street when the EA recommended the south side, we recommended single-track south of Leitrim to save money when the consultants opposed it, we recommended extension to Barrhaven town centre when the RFP and MOU excluded it, we identified the technology to allow continued auto use of the Mackenzie King Bridge, we have recommended since 1999 that the LRT go under rather than over the VIA Rail tracks, and we have urged that the station planned for South Keys since 1998 be retained.

But we have been ignored on important issues, including the airport link, which was a top priority for the public, RTES, council, the NCC, and the TMP, and was shown at all the EA public meetings. Transport 2000 proposals to reduce the costs of north-south light rail and to bring forward interprovincial and east-west light rail were rejected, though we met with City staff, OC Transpo and the consultants to examine our cost assumptions. We opposed the failure to follow brownfield re-use policies for the yards, a flawed analysis of extension to Hurdman, and the plan to give up our hard-won federal railway status.

You are making or have already made your decision in haste, rather than allowing an open public discussion during the election. But I must tell you that this council has often seemed fundamentally anti-transit and opposed to public consultation:

  • You made $10 million in budget cuts to bus routes, without public consultations on the routes involved.
  • You failed to require the transit-only alternative approved by Council for the Alta Vista hospitals
  • You approved annual transit fare increases at double the inflation rate
  • You have allowed new major urban faciliities not at rapid transit stations
  • You cut the effectiveness of the Pedestrian and Transit Advisory Committee
  • You failed to require O-Train pilot project reports after December 2002
  • You rejected the unanimous recommendations of the EA public working group and the city's own advisory committees on the maintenance yard
  • You have delayed the interprovincial rapid transit study planned since 2003

The new Transit network plan does not reflect the TMP. The airport link is gone. East-west LRT is downgraded from rapid transit, capable of grade separation, to a semi-reserved streetcar on a 46 km suburban route, too long compared to Toronto streetcar lines which radiate only 7-9 km from downtown. We negotiated that the final vote on the TMP remove the exclusion of diesel LRT as one of three options recommended by the Rapid Transit Expansion Study, but staff have ignored this. We now see no reuse of rail infrastructure, roadbed, track, most bridges, and the rail yards, which the O-Train project proved could give us rapid turn-up, low initial cost and effective rapid transit service. The O-train has had the fastest ridership growth at OC Transpo, the most reliable operation, including winter, greatest fuel savings, and highest customer satisfaction. The 1997 Transportation Master plan had called for incremental expansion starting in 2003 on the east-west line and the southward extension to Leitrim. We could have had them in service already!

The experts are misrepresenting our own Diesel Light Rail Pilot Project. The recommendation to sell the O-Trains for about 40% of their purchase price is based on analysis that we have repeatedly challenged. Four US cities are now following Ottawa's lead to introduce diesel light rail on existing tracks, combined with electric LRT, on-street running, and even limited freight track sharing. David Morgan, the expert brought by the City from New Jersey to assist the maintenance yard consultation actually described New Jersey's success with Diesel Light Rail as the fastest growing part of their system. Kanata does have urgent transitway issues, but in terms of north-south versus east-west rapid transit investment, the transitways 9 km south from Hurdman to Hunt Club and 10 km south of Lincoln Fields to Fallowfield are both north-south. The central section, Lincoln Fields to Hurdman, is common to north-south and east-west transit, (8 km transitway plus 7 km of parkway and downtown streets).

We oppose O-Train interruptions and support the get-it-right campaign. This project can't succeed without broad public and business consensus. Holding the downtown open house in the first 12 hours, today's meeting two weeks later, and locating all last weeks's meetings outside the greenbelt, is not good enough.

June 26, 2006

Bob Chiarelli: Diesel is better (Oct 2000)

I just wanted to let you know about the video of Bob Chiarelli (Oct./2000) which I've loaded on the Ecoview website (2nd item top left). See and hear him state the following;

  • We can quickly expand from the Ottawa Airport to the Gatineau Airport and to downtown Ottawa and Hull
  • From Cumberland to Kanata within 5 to ten years (2005 to 2010)
  • That we can build it for about $1 million/km on existing track (the proposed Electric LRT will cost $30 million/km)
  • Diesel is better environmentally
Direct link to the video: here (requires IE)

It isn't too late to ask Councillors to change their position from supporting the Electric LRT to supporting the simple expansion of our award-winning existing Diesel LRT. A diesel system would still follow most of the routes. This system is proven 99.4% reliable and has performed flawlessly for 5 winters. Only DLRT can reach out to the many communities that could be linked by existing rails or former corridors. These communities include Manotick Station, Osgoode, Kemptville, to the south. Stittsville, Richmond, Ashton and Smiths Falls to the southwest. Carp, Arnprior, to the west. Navan Blackburn Hamlet to the east. Casselman, Vars to the south east. Gatineau, Chelsea, the north. Calculate the reduction of traffic on our roads should this occur and it's easy to see how quickly and cost effectively we can improve the Ottawa region and dramatically reduce smog at the same.

I also received the following info on Transitway Cost Over Runs from Tim Lane (T2000 and member of the Rail yard selection Public Working Group).

In the early '80ties, when the dream of the Transitway was a gleam in the eye of various concrete & rebar suppliers, the initial estimate for its cost was $97 million.

Construction on the first sections of Transitway began in 1983.

By the time the "Grand" period of Transitway construction was finished, in 1996, (some limited expansions have occurred since then), the tab had mounted to $440 million.

The only previous "boondoggle" that I know of in this City to have exceeded it's cost estimates by such a huge factor was the Rideau Canal construction.

Of course, Col. By was working in an uncharted wilderness, and built a canal far larger and more substantial than had originally been contemplated.

Oh, by the way, yearly ridership on OC Transpo DECLINED by 10 million people, during that 13 year "Grand" period of Transitway construction.

One last thought - This NS LRT "expansion" will see cost overruns that will probably make the Transitway look like a bargain.

After all, they already have the cost of the LRT at over $30 million per Km., which is double the average cost of the Transitway.

Defer irrevocable contracts until post-election

The DCA is on record as asking Council to defer making any irrevocable decisions on the project until after the municipal elections. We have specific concerns about the project, namely: the North-South LRT will not address current congestion issues caused by east-west and Ottawa-Gatineau commuter traffic; the project is likely to increase traffic congestion in the downtown core by adding additional transit infrastructure and trolleys; we are concerned about the project's financial viability and the consequent impact on both expansion of the LRT and other transit improvements; and there has been insufficient meaningful public debate on this close to $800 million investment of public funds.

The LRT project staff have sponsored several open houses on aspects of the overall project and have made details available on the City's web site. Although valid first steps in public awareness, these initiatives cannot be considered as full public consultation. Including the LRT as part of the municipal election process will ensure a full airing of questions and concerns we all might have about the project and, frankly, will introduce much-needed political accountability for any decisions made.

The DCA is a strong supporter of public transportation, and we look forward to the implementation of an LRT system that makes environmental and economic sense for Ottawa. Given the significance of the project, we believe a short delay is warranted in order to "Get It Right." Time is of the essence since Councillors will vote to accept or reject the Siemens bid on July 14, 2006.

Please make the position of your community association a part of their deliberation process.

Best wishes,

Martha Musgrove, President
Dalhousie Community Association

June 24, 2006

Diesel versus Electric light rail

Tim Lane writes:

We (Transport 2000 and some other individuals)
have repeatedly asked City Staff, as part of the EA,
to evaluate the following:

For any given amount of money you have to spend, you
could build a larger diesel light rail system than an electric one,
due to the lower cost per km. of not having to put up the poles,
wires, and build substations & emergency generators.

A larger system will reach more neighbourhoods, employment,
educational, shopping, & recreational areas.

Therefore, it should be more effective, for a given expenditure,
at getting more people OUT of their cars, and onto transit.

Net effect - even though your transit vehicles are diesel,
rather than electric, the reduction in car traffic results in less fuel
being burned, and less pollution being created, in your city,
than with an electric system.

Note that this argument has nothing to do with how polluting
the generation of the electricity may be.

It doesn't matter if you use Hydro, natural gas, nucular (Dubya's
pronunciation!), coal, wind, diesel generators, oil fired boilers,
or squirrel cages to generate your power.

For any given expenditure, a diesel LRT system would reduce
City-wide fuel consumption & pollution MORE than an electric
LRT system.

It would get MORE people onto transit.

City council mandated that Staff evaluate this as part of the EA.

Staff ignored this directive.

June 14, 2006

Light-rail costs mounting

Light-rail costs mounting
Jake Rupert, Ottawa Citizen
Published: Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Without putting a shovel in the ground, Ottawa's
proposed north-south light-rail line is well over
budget. Just how much, however, depends on who is
doing the math.

City staff leading the project say, if approved, the
Rideau Centre to Barrhaven line, which calls for the
use of electric rail cars, will cost $745 million, or
about $20 million more than the $725 million initially

But once several related projects that need to be done
for the line to work are included, the total price tag
is in the $1 billion range.

The revelation prompted anger from several city
councillors. The anger stemmed from a staff
presentation given by project leader Rejean Chartrand,
who repeatedly hailed the virtues of the project.

But during his presentation, it became clear several
items that some councillors felt should have been
included in the contract price had been lopped off to
keep the cost near the original estimate.

These include construction the line's maintenance
yard, the lease cost for the yard, extension of the
line to the centre of Barrhaven, operating costs of
the line, maintenance of the line for 15 years, money
to manage the project and more.

© Ottawa Citizen 2006

June 13, 2006

Open House - Preliminary Design Plans

North-South O-Train Project
Preliminary design plans
The City of Ottawa invites you to attend one or more of the Open Houses listed below to review information and comment on the proposal submission for the North-South Light Rail Transit (LRT) Project as received from The Siemens-PCL/Dufferin Team, the recommended preferred Proponent for the project.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006
12:30 to 8 p.m.
Ottawa City Hall
Jean Pigott Hall
110 Laurier Avenue West

(more locations and dates)

Coalition calls for light rail rethink

Copyright, Ottawa Sun, (published Tues, Jun13, 2006)

Ottawa business, environmental and community groups want city council to get it right before it spends hundreds of millions of dollars on light rail transit.

They also want councillors and the mayor to hold off on making any decision on LRT until after November's election.

Yesterday, they launched the "Get It Right" group consisting of 12 Ottawa organizations that are banding together to urge council to delay the north-south LRT line.

The groups say they aren't against an expanded O-Train line but want to make sure Ottawa taxpayers aren't railroaded into paying for something they don't really need or want.


Hume Rogers, one of the founders of the Albert Slater Coalition and general manager of the Capital Hill Hotel and Suites, says with the city ready to unveil the final design and all costs related to the project tomorrow, the public won't have enough time to comment on the project.

"Two weeks is not a reasonable amount of time to debate the biggest project in the city's history," said Rogers.

Council is scheduled to make its final decision July 14.

The group is also concerned the construction on the project might be interrupted because the city hasn't received all the regulatory approvals it needs.

The group will begin an aggressive, two-week advertising campaign asking for the project to be delayed and for residents to lobby their councillors to make it an election issue.

Gerry Lepage, president of the Bank St. BIA, says the LRT plan needs more thought.

Lepage also says the timing for public debate is all wrong.

"We are looking at a time when we are thinking about barbecuing, going to the cottage and vacations. We're not thinking about an O-Train," he said.

June 12, 2006

Group wants brakes on light-rail project

Group wants brakes on light-rail project
CBC News

A coalition of business groups and transit experts wants Ottawa city council to put the brakes on the $725-million construction of the north-south light-rail line until after this fall's municipal election.

The call to halt the project came at a news conference on Monday morning, two days before the public release of details of the winning bid for the project, and just two weeks before Ottawa city council is to vote on the plan.

The group includes Ottawa's Chamber of Commerce, several neighbourhood organizations representing hundreds of local businesses and public transit advocates who have, until now, been closely allied with city officials on the plan.

FROM JUNE 1, 2006: Light rail costs veering off track

Construction on Ottawa's biggest — and most expensive — infrastructure project to date is supposed to begin this fall.

But a growing chorus is saying not so fast.

"I think there's a general feeling that the whole decision-making process has been rushed through without enough public consultation, without enough public knowledge, and that there's some very serious concerns about the plans as we know them," said Hume Rogers, a downtown hotel manager who heads a group of concerned business owners on Albert and Slater streets.

Joining the business-related groups in the coalition are Transport 2000, Heritage Ottawa, even Friends of the O-Train — organizations that are in favour of light-rail transit, but say they need to know more about this particular plan.

Though not affiliated with the coalition, mayoral candidate Terry Kilrea has also been calling for a freeze on the project. He's even launched a website to gather support and plans to present councillors with a petition this week.

He says they and Mayor Bob Chiarelli had better listen.

"This is becoming such a major issue that this is going to cost some councillors re-election if they continue on with this train that nobody knows what the cost is going to be," said Kilrea.

Get It Right: Community & business groups send message to City Council on LRT

Good Morning, my name is Peter Hillier and I represent a group of concerned Ottawa South residents who formed Save our Greenspace as a result of learning that the City had included a valuable Greenspace between our community and the Airport Parkway as a potential site for the North-South LRT Maintenance Yard.

As a result we participated in a much broader Public Working Group of concerned residents and other stakeholders, including the Airport Authority, Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, etc to decide among 3 locations, all well noted in the press. After 8 weeks of deliberations (extended by 3 weeks at the demand of participants), education as to the environmental impacts and other social impacts, etc, the Public Working Group recommended by a very high margin that the Walkley Yard be reused as the site for expanded LRT operations for a variety of reasons, including adhering to the Provincial and Federal commitments to reuse of Brownfields, protection of the environment, protection of the Scenic Route that is the parkway, and valuable and declining urban greenspaces.

At days end, City Staff commissioned the consultants, hired to educate the PWG to come to a rational recommendation, to submit their own recommendation. They chose a site only introduced during the PWG process and it has since been ratified as the acceptable location by City Council.

This only goes to demonstrate the lack of voice residents of this city have during processes like this one. This project has some very severe financial risks associated with it. It has climbed significantly from a 400 million to 900 million dollar project and with normal scope creep associated with very large infrastructure projects of any kind we can anticipate a minimum of 30% beyond that. From 400m to 1.2 Billion is a very large hike and the Provincial and Federal Governments are only funding 400 million. There hasn’t been much publicity from the Mayors office as to where the rest of the money is coming from, but as a resident of this city I’m very concerned about the tax hikes that will be associated with this and the East-West project as they unfold.

It is high time that the leadership of this City become accountable to the rate payers. The back room politicking has to stop. Councilors have to stand up and commit to doing exactly what it is they are being paid to do and that is to do what is right for the City; not just their own backyard.

Residents of this city have to educate themselves about how this project will affect them. Write your councilor and demand that the project be deferred until after the election. If the Mayor and Council are not accountable now, I’m sure they will find themselves accountable in November.

Thank you,

Peter J. Hillier

Save our Greenspace

Op Ed piece on LRT expansion - Tim Lane

Op Ed piece on LRT expansion for the Ottawa Citizen

June 12, 2006

By Tim Lane

There seems to be a concerted effort to forget, or dismiss, what the existing diesel light rail O-Train has accomplished.

A fifteen minute service on an existing heavy rail line, that carries upwards of ten thousand passengers per day, on a single track.

A system that integrates O-Train & bus to give people a faster, more comfortable trip than by bus alone, to many destinations.

A system that is the ideal way to get to events at Dow's Lake (Tulip Festival, Winterlude, etc.).

A system that has won awards, although on at least one occasion, management didn't tell the train drivers about it. (Ask me about that one!)

A system that has had beneficial effects on the bus system, freeing up buses to be used elsewhere.

A system that has tremendous fuel savings, on a per- passenger basis, compared to buses.

A system that reduces air pollution, compared to buses.

A system that provides ENORMOUS savings on snow clearing, compared to roads.

The O-Train kept running flawlessly, during last December's snowstorm that immobilized hundreds of buses.

The David Gladstone Memorial Pathway, between Bayview Station & the Ottawa River Parkway recreational path system, would have allowed people out for a stroll or bike ride, to see how close the O-Train comes to the Prince of Wales bridge. Of course, some people in the City don't want the public to know that a simple, low cost solution to cross river traffic congestion is immediately available.

The reason I call it the "David Gladstone Memorial Pathway", is that he will probably die of old age before it ever gets built. (pace, David!) Capital Railway (the O-Train) now has the federally mandated authority to run a rail passenger service into Quebec, which would obviously involve using the Prince of Wales bridge.

Doing this would be the simplest, most cost effective solution to downtown traffic problems.

It would allow many Gatineau residents, who, for example, work at Confederation Heights to ditch their car, and take a much faster transit service to work.

It would allow many OC Transpo and STO buses to stay on their respective sides of the river.

This would reduce bus congestion in the downtowns of both Hull and Ottawa.

It would allow many of these buses to be redeployed in various Gatineau and Ottawa neighbourhoods, thus improving bus frequency, without having to buy any new buses.

Now the Mayor seems to have fallen into the trap of forgetting what the diesel O-Train has accomplished, and is convinced that any future LRT has to be the expensive kind.

He has forgotten that the #1 reason you bring in light rail, is TO REDUCE THE COST OF OPERATING YOUR TRANSIT SYSTEM!

The #2 reason, is to give your riders a FASTER, MORE RELIABLE TRIP, if terms of travel time, and schedule adherence.

The new North South LRT extension, looping through Riverside South before entering Barrhaven from the south east, will, at enormous cost, provide passengers with a slower trip from Barrhaven to downtown, than the express buses on Woodroffe Avenue.

The plans for the East West light rail lines, with proposals to run it down busy city streets, rather than the existing, mostly grade separated rail corridors, show that the purpose of LRT, now, is to enhance the value of developers properties.

The two real reasons for LRT, above, have been thrown out the window. There is no way that the proposed Light Rail system will provide a fast, reliable trip. Nor will it reduce the cost to the taxpayer of providing transit, if the vehicles, subsidized by the hour, are taking forever to get people where they're going.

I believe that it is time to put a halt to these LRT expansion plans, until after the election next fall. That would give the public and the planners time to get some sanity back into our transit system.

Tim Lane

June 03, 2006

Federal EA

Download it here.

It's 124Megs, 400+ pages of light reading..