On the eve of Ottawa’s downtown transit decision, O-Train advocates yesterday made a final push for a plan they say would get riders moving in a much shorter period of time.
The future downtown transit option will be finalized today, but Friends of the O-Train said that extending the existing O-Train would get commuters rolling now compared to a rapid transit plan involving a light rail tunnel which will take years and billions of dollars to build.
“The O-Train could be extended by this year or next year easily,” said David Jeanes, president of Transport 2000 and a member of Friends of the O-Train.
The group wants the existing O-Train lines extended south to Leitrim Road and north into Gatineau, with east-west service from Orleans to Bayshore, all on existing rail.
Getting the O-Train across the Ottawa River to Gatineau would be no problem, said Jeanes, since the railway is federally licensed to operate in Quebec.
Prince of Wales Bridge, which the city already owns, is structurally sound, added Jeanes. “This kind of rail upgrade can be done in a few weeks.”
The plan would extend the O-Train to areas where there’s room to construct park-and-rides, while trains would reduce the number of buses on the streets, Jeanes said.
And additional trains to ride the rails are available inexpensively in Europe, said Friends of the O-Train member Tim Lane.
“We have existing railway lines that can be put into service now,” said Friends founder, David Gladstone. “It takes far less space to use the infrastructure that we have. It’s not that complicated when you think about it.”