Ottawa Council approves Light Rail

ED. Unlike Vancouver, Ottawa chose Light Rail over heavy rail SkyTrain technology for seven good reasons….

This past summer, the City of Ottawa hosted a Technology Forum that brought together manufacturers, operators and transit experts from across North America to discuss various transit systems, best practices and lessons learned, with the objective of identifying optimal rail technology solutions for Ottawa. The result of the Forum was the identification of the two rail technology options appropriate for consideration by the City of Ottawa: Light Rail Transit and a Light Metro System.

To select the appropriate transit system technology, the City decided that it must:

  • Accommodate the predicted passenger volumes
  • Fit into Ottawa’s urban environment
  • Minimize capital, lifetime operating and maintenance costs
  • Be able to respond to future land use changes within the city and the demand for travel
  • Take advantage of the most current proven technologies
  • Have a proven service track record
  • Be suitable for Ottawa’s climate

While Light Metro did exceed Ottawa’s core capacity requirements, there were numerous advantages to LRT that ultimately moved City staff to recommend LRT.

“The flexibility of the LRT system is a good fit for Ottawa’s transit needs in and outside the core,” said Transit Committee Chair Councillor Alex Cullen. “LRT can achieve the high capacities needed in the downtown tunnel and provide service outside the core by operating at-grade with vehicular and pedestrian traffic.”

LRT provides low-floor vehicles (reducing infrastructure costs at stations) as well as a single-vehicle model for the entire fleet (reducing maintenance costs).

Finally, the overhead power system does not require the same protected right-of-way as Light Metro, which typically uses a third rail to power it, and allows for easier future expansion of the system.

Following on Council’s approval of LRT as the technology choice, Transit Committee will consider a report on the functional design of the Downtown Ottawa Transit Tunnel – Tunney’s to Blair (DOTT) project on December 16, 2009.

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