Monday, July 19, 2010

Of Sleepwalking and Short-Sightedness

Just me and the storm and my D200

In his editorial of July 17, the Ottawa Citizen's Ken Gray advises us to "wake up" about the City's plans for public transit improvements. Mr. Gray is particularly exercised about the proposed light rail tunnel through the downtown core, which he calls "buying a Volkswagen with a BMW price tag".

While there is certainly some reason to be concerned about the projected costs of a downtown tunnel, I personally find exception with Mr. Gray's arguments against it. What seems to be irking him above everything else is not so much the cost of a tunnel as the fact that it will take too long to complete.

Under the title Wake Up Ottawa - You're sleepwalking towards transit disaster, Ken Gray writes:

"The commuting traffic problems in Ottawa are now, not in 2018. And the biggest problem with the current light-rail plan is that is does nothing to solve the problem of commuting."

Doesn't it? Has Mr. Gray taken a bus or driven a car on Rideau Street at rush hour lately? By my watch, it can take up to 30 minutes to crawl down the four blocks between Sussex Drive and King Edward Avenue. If fiscal responsibility is such a concern to the Ottawa Citizen, I would be curious to know how much gas we're wasting on dozens of OC Transpo buses idling in viscous traffic every day of the week, and how much the taxpayers would save if walking wasn't the fastest way to get through downtown.

But setting aside any speculative accounting, what makes me roll my eyes about Ken Gray's analysis is the time argument. If I'm following Mr. Gray's reasoning correctly, we're having problems NOW and the tunnel won't be ready until LATER, so we should ditch the tunnel plan and focus on short-term solutions that will provide temporary relief and leave the underlying issues for future taxpayers to deal with at a later date.

Ken Gray for Mayor. He has all the required qualifications.


Dominique Noel said...

I would like to see this genius come up with some sort of solution.

More buses downtown? Like you said, it already takes 30 minutes to crawl four blocks Downtown, not going to happen. There's just no more room.

The only solution that could be applied until the LRT Tunnel is completed would be to restrict traffic on Albert & Slater to buses only. But again, the platform can only accomodate one lane of buses, so it wouldn't help that much.

SEA said...

The one-lane platform does create a bottleneck, which is immediately obvious to anyone who's ever sat on a bus through morning rush hour at Hurdman Station. Making the platforms *longer* is not a solution either - it already takes considerable attention and occasional running to catch your bus wherever it happens to stop in the line-up, so longer platforms would only make catching a bus a lottery with longer odds.