Mayor Larry O’Brien’s proposal to move Ottawa’s Greyhound bus depot out of the downtown core and combine it with the Via station seems to have come practically out of nowhere, and with a sense of haste that makes the prospect of meaningful public input uncertain.
“I think we now have all the players warm to the idea. It’s time for the public to have a say on that as well,” O’Brien said last week, while at the same time holding out the possibility the move could be a done deal within months.
The mayor has reportedly been talking to Via and Greyhound for months, so it’s nice of him to finally let us non-players in on this possible reorganization of our intercity transit system.
There are good things about the plan, sure. Via says the combined setup has worked well in Vancouver and Quebec City, and the advantages of being able to make bus and train connections in one place are easy enough to see.
Walking to your bus, however, will become trickier. The train station itself was also once located downtown, allowing passengers to disembark across from the Chateau Laurier and within sight of Parliament Hill, before its relocation in the ’60s to its current home in a traffic-constipated, pedestrian-repellent industrial park.
O’Brien’s vision aside, a transportation hub it ain’t, but at least it sits on the Transitway, and should our current light rail plan ever come to fruition, it might become one. Of course, at the rate that particular project is unfolding, and given the uncertain state of its funding, there seems to be little urgency to relocate the bus station anytime soon.
Somerset Coun. Diane Holmes is among those who would like to see better transit links in place before subjecting this area to even more congestion as taxis rush two sets of passengers to the same spot.
The plan also seems at odds with the city’s big plans for Lansdowne Park. Already poorly served by OC Transpo, Lansdowne is at least within walking distance of the current Greyhound station and, hence, convenient for out-of-towners to take in a game or a concert. Why, at this juncture, would we want to cancel one of Lansdowne’s existing advantages?
And what’s the big hurry, period?