Use LRT to move more than people, prof suggests

An Ottawa professor believes the city should use its new light rail trains to move more than just people when the system opens later this year.

Paris suburban used to transport freight, reducing congestion, pollution

The full package: a University of Ottawa professor believes the city should use its new LRT system to move freight, which could reduce congestion and pollution. (City of Ottawa)

An Ottawa professor believes the city should use its new light rail trains to move more than just people when the system opens later this year.

Onur Ozturk, a professor with the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa, believes the line could be used to transport freight as well as human cargo.

The idea might sound unusual, but it's a tried and true method in cities such as Paris, where it reduces both pollution and congestion in the city's core, Ozturk told CBC's Ottawa Morning.

"It's estimated that in the city of Paris there are 10,000 fewer trucks [each year] that get into the city," he said.

Off-peak hours

Ozturk said in Paris, suburban trains on the national SNCF rail system are used to move freight from the city's outer suburbs into the downtown core. He said Ottawa could look at using its trains in a similar fashion during off-peak hours.

"People are more important than freight, [but] they do this in Paris without interrupting the passenger trains," he said.

Ozturk also pointed to New York City, where specially designed subway cars are used to transport garbage out of the city.

Ozturk admitted the benefits in Ottawa could be limited until the second, farther-reaching phase of the light rail system is completed in 2023.

He said he plans to take his idea to Ottawa city council later this year.