Ottawa, Closer than Ever to Replacing Bus Rapid Transit with Light Rail

» Could the Ottawa model of instituting bus rapid transit, then converting to light rail, inspire other cities?

There was a time, a few years back, when talk of building bus rapid transit as a cheap precursor to train service was common. The theory was that cities could invest in new rights-of-way for rapid transit and design guideways specifically for future light rail implementation, but only fork up enough dough to pay for the buses.

After its voters agreed in 2003 to fund a series of new rail lines, Houston’s elected officials realized by 2007 that they wouldn’t be able to do so without a federal commitment — but they weren’t able to get help because of obstacles put in the way by Congressional Republicans representing the city’s suburbs. And so the city turned to buses, deciding to install BRT along its most promising corridors.

Though it was

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Ottawa Weighs BRT-to-LRT Conversion

Plan would require the city to construct new downtown tunnel

Ottawa, Canada’s capital, already has one of North America’s largest bus rapid transit networks, with a series of transitways leading into the city center, where buses run in dedicated lanes along city streets. The first sections of the line opened in 1983, and now the system has a high ridership for a bus system in a city of 800,000: 240,000 daily riders. Ottawa also has an 8 km diesel multiple unit light rail system with five stops called the O-Train that has a daily ridership of 10,000, though the service doesn’t reach downtown. The O-Train opened as a demonstration line in 2001. Now the city is actively working to build a downtown light rail tunnel that would eventually be connected to a train network serving the entire region.

The city’s leadership has never been entirely comfortable with the

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Chinese Rail Expansion; Ottawa Prioritizes Transit

I’m sorry I haven’t updated in a few days – for unclear reasons, I ended up in Stuttgart and have been having trouble finding internet other than at the local Starbucks, which is charging 8 Euros an hour, completely unacceptable. So I find myself at Coffee Fellows.

Thanks to the Overhead Wire, more information on China’s enormous rail expansion in Business Week. Looks like the overall $546 billion ($190 billion of which for railways) economic stimulus plan will include, as expected, thousands of miles of new railways serving the entire country. China Daily reports that inner city subway lines will also benefit, though costs are increasing tremendously; for example, subways in Beijing now cost 800 million yuan (about $110 million) a km to build, up from only 100 million a few years back. As a result, the government’s stimulus plan couldn’t come at a better time, seeing as how

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  • by Yonah Freemark
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