How will the Gatineau LRT connect to Ottawa's LRT?

As plans develop for a new Gatineau LRT, questions have emerged about where and how the Gatineau system would connect to Ottawa's rail line.

An expert looks at potential transfer hubs and station locations

Connecting Gatineau's future LRT to downtown Ottawa will present several challenges. (Laury Dubé/Radio-Canada illustration)

As plans for Gatineau's LRT begin to take shape, there are questions about how the system would connect riders to Ottawa's downtown core.

The Société de transport de l'Outaouais (STO), which confirmed this week it will be developing some kind of light rail system, has so far shared few specifics.

The Portage Bridge is the preferred option, with both city's mayors now cool on the possibility raised in the past of the Prince of Wales Bridge near Bayview station. 

It stands to reason the new Gatineau LRT station would have to be built close enough to an existing Confederation Line station so that riders could easily transfer from one to the other.

If the new route went over the Portage Bridge, transfers would likely happen at the Confederation Line's Lyon station.

Lyon station may be the nearest transfer point between the Gatineau and Ottawa LRT systems. (Michel Aspirot/Radio-Canada)

David Jeanes, an engineer and public transport activist, looked over a few ideas that could be considered for the station for Radio-Canada and gave each location a ranking out of 10. 

4. The Portage Bridge exit

If the new Gatineau LRT station was built at the Portage Bridge exit, riders would have to walk 600 metres to transfer to Ottawa's LRT system. (Radio-Canada/Michel Aspirot)

There is land on the Ottawa side that is not a heritage site and would be relatively inexpensive to build a station there, according to Jeanes.

However, the location is at the bottom of a slope and nearly 600 metres away from Lyon station, which would make for a more difficult transfer. 

There's also recently-revealed plans in the works for a national monument to the federal government's "LGBT Purge" of queer public servants in the area.

Score: 2/10

3. Garden of the Provinces and Territories

If the Gatineau LRT station was built at this site, it would be sandwiched between two significant sites. (Michel Aspirot/Radio-Canada)

A site at Wellington and Bay streets would have enough space for a station, but it would have to navigate the garden, a monument that dates back to 1962, and a soon-to-be-built monument to the victims of communism. 

This location is 400 metres away from Lyon station.

Score: 4/10

2. Library and Archives Canada

Riders would have to cross Wellington Street to change train lines if the new station was built at this site. (Michel Aspirot/Radio-Canada)

The site just east of this building offers the most space compared to the other three possible locations.

It's not all that close to a monument or historic site, but it is close to the current STO stop on Wellington Street where commuters can catch a bus into Gatineau. 

A station here would be only 200 metres away from Lyon station; however, riders would have to cross busy Wellington Street to get there. 

Score: 6/10

1. The intersection of Wellington and Lyon

The intersection at Wellington and Lyon may be the closest option for a new Gatineau LRT station. (Radio-Canada/Michel Aspirot)

This location is only 130 metres away from the existing Lyon station, making it the closest option. 

However, the train would stop right in front of an important monument dedicated to Canadians who served in the Second World War.

It could be difficult to get permission to build there. 

The West Memorial Building at that intersection will be home to the Supreme Court around the time a Gatineau light rail line could be built.

Score: 7/10*

* If the city were to build a pedestrian tunnel that connected this site to the Lyon station entrance beneath the Place de Ville building, Jeanes said he would score this location 8/10

Official plans in spring

The STO is going over the option and plans to appear before Ottawa's transportation committee in the spring to present the preliminary options. 

"I don't want to speculate on what the options will be for getting into Ottawa," Myriam Nadeau, president of the STO, said in French last week. "We are studying them with our partners." 

One of the three scenarios studied by the STO involves a tram-only option that serves two routes before connecting with Ottawa's downtown LRT system. If it goes with a hybrid system, the buses would roughly follow the proposal for the rail line. (Provided by STO)

The City of Ottawa isn't sharing many details yet, either.

Ottawa's director of transportation planning provided a written statement that city staff are "working closely with the STO and other regional transportation planning partners," but that it is "too early to comment" because technical evaluations are still underway.  

The STO originally raised the possibility a rail line could open in 2028.

The Outaouais public transit system will get $16 million towards its tramway line, which it plans to link to Ottawa's transit. 9:32

With files from Radio-Canada's Stéphane Leclerc


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