Dear Metro Reader:
I have always said it's never too late to do the right thing.
During the election campaign, people told me the proposed Light Rail Transit system was badly flawed, and did nothing for east or west end commuters and nothing to solve traffic congestion downtown.
An overwhelming majority of Ottawa residents elected me to hit the reset button on transit and I am pleased to have delivered on my promise.
Council made the right decision by cancelling the former plan. This allowed staff to go back and consult the public and international experts to develop a new Downtown Rapid Transit Network to better serve our city.
In March, the city put forward four options and started a public consultation process to determine which plan best suits residents’ needs. Yesterday, staff recommended Option 4 as the plan that received the majority of support.
We are looking to build the new transit system from the core out which will allow Ottawa to solve the pressing problem of congestion in our downtown. The cornerstone of the new plan is the construction of a tunnel.
I have always said that a ride on a world-class transit system begins with a ride down an escalator. With the tunnel comes the opportunity to build an underground city that will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic growth. It will also improve our environment by taking cars and buses off our roads.
Ottawa’s new transit vision should shave up to 15 minutes off your daily commute, representing over 55 hours a year that won’t be wasted at bus stops, or fighting traffic.
In addition to the tunnel, Option 4 proposes more light rail than other choices and allows us to expand the system as funding becomes available.
The city has begun the second phase of public consultation and, in coming weeks, we need to hear from the residents before council makes a final decision.
Every step of the way we have engaged the province, the federal government, businesses and our most important stakeholder – our residents – and will continue to do so.
I encourage you to continue your engagement in the future of Ottawa transit. I hope you will provide feedback on the preferred transit choice through a variety of mediums, including ward consultations, as well as OttawaTalks at ottawa.ca/transit.
All feedback will inform the debate that will take place on this option during a joint meeting of the Transit and Transportation committees on May 21, and when council makes its final decision on May 28.
The decisions we make in coming weeks will ultimately transform the face of our city and address Ottawa’s transit needs for the next century.
Now is the time to debate on the target, not the implementation of the plan.
I have challenged each of my colleagues to take a citywide approach, think long-term and focus on the bigger picture.
I’ve always said that people will only use public transit if it is faster and more convenient than any other form of transportation. I am pleased to see that the option before us will greatly improve the level of service we deliver to Ottawa residents.
I look forward to working with all of you to get it right.
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