Ottawa

Plateau residents association calls on Gatineau to build light rail system

As Gatineau's transit company held the first of two information sessions on expanding public transit in the city's west end, a Plateau neighbourhood residents association is calling for a light rail system.
Representatives from Gatineau's transit company laid out and explained five different scenarios for expanded transit service to Aylmer residents. (Stu Mills/CBC)

As Gatineau's transit company held the first of two information sessions on expanding public transit in the city's west end, a Plateau neighbourhood residents association is calling for a light rail system.

The STO is asking residents of the Plateau district and Aylmer how to better serve residents in the city's west end, and launched an online public consultation Oct. 17.

At an information session Wednesday night, the transit company laid out five different options for expanded service.

The first and mildest scenario would add some reserve lanes for buses and priority lights for buses at key intersections.

The second would bring concentrated transit expansion to Aylmer's southern side, making Chemin Aylmer and Boulevard Alexandre-Taché the central transit axis.

The third would do the opposite, with Boulevard des Allumettières in the north becoming the spine of expanded transit.

Two further options are minor variations on scenarios the second and third options.

'If we don't do anything congestion will get worse'

"If we don't do anything congestion will get worse, and we need more reliable transit service so that our buses aren't caught in that congestion," said Cecile Lecoq, an STO spokesperson.

At the information session, Plateau residents association president Alain Pilon said the City of Gatineau should follow the direction that Hamilton and Waterloo appear to be taking by building a light rail system to serve residents into the future.

An open letter from the association published in Le Droit, addressed to Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin as well as provincial and federal politicians, argues that buses should not be relied upon for transit expansion in Aylmer.

"Ottawa will ban about 90 per cent of buses in downtown Ottawa, so if we are proposing to multiply the number of buses by three or four, I don't know where we are going to put them," Pilon said Wednesday night.

Alain Pilon, president of the Plateau neighbourhood residents association, says the time is right for Gatineau to build a light rail system. (Stu Mills/CBC)

'Let's find something, and fast'

The opening of the first phase of light rail in Ottawa in 2018 is expected to remove dozens of daily buses from the Albert and Slater street corridors.

"Please look seriously at this opportunity we have right now to build something electric, economical, comfortable for the future," Pilon said.

"What we see in most cities in Canada and North America is it's very difficult to get more usage of buses. There's a limit. So, let's go. Let's find something, and fast."

Outside the Plateau district community hall, 12-year-old Michael Adeito ignored the information session and concentrated instead on shooting hoops at an outdoor basketball court. His family moved from Ottawa this fall, joining the roughly 20,000 people already living in the Plateau.

He welcomed the news of expanded public transit into his new neighbourhood. Adeito takes a city bus from Hull to École secondaire de l'Île and said the ride is typically a crowded one.

"Really full, like there's barely seats. We need to stay [standing] up," he said.

The STO will hold another information session in Hull Thursday night.

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