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New Ottawa-Gatineau agreement a big step forward for transit planning in the region

The new pact serves to formalize co-operation between provinces and municipalities.

Ottawa and Gatineau have signed a new transit agreement that takes effect once the O-Train Confederation Line opens in 2018.

For the first time, the mayors of Ottawa and Gatineau have signed a formal agreement pledging to work together on transit planning in the capital region.

What’s in the new agreement?

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) runs from 2018 to 2023, with a review in 2021.

It lays out changes to STO routes in downtown Ottawa once the O-Train Confederation Line opens in 2018, and establishes a joint-planning group with elected and staff representatives from both municipalities.

The exact make-up of the group will be announced within 60 days.

New STO Routes

The STO transports about 12,000 people from Gatineau to Ottawa every day. Once the Confederation Line opens, buses will no longer go past Parliament Hill.

Instead, they will use Lyon Street to connect with the Confederation Line, some will loop back along Bank Street, while others will continue along Slater and Albert to the Mackenzie King Bridge.

Having buses on Wellington has sometimes been a challenge because of protests or events on the Hill, STO spokesperson Renée Lafrenière, said in French during a technical briefing on Friday.

The change will reduce commute times for 73 per cent of riders, she said, because buses will stop closer to where people are working.

Future of transit planning in the capital

Once the agreement takes effect, the number of buses travelling on Albert and Slater will go down from about 1,400 buses a day to fewer than 500.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said the agreement will help future transit projects like the interprovincial train on the Prince of Wales Bridge.

“We both have it on our wish list,” Watson said. “We put forward our request for funding from the federal government of $1.1 billion and we’re working with them now to sign that agreement and we hope to have some news on that very shortly.”

Published By: Alex Abdelwahab, Metro, May 28, 2017