Frequently Asked Questions: Dedicated Public Transit System for Gatineau's West End – Complementary Study
Scenarios and Corridors in Gatineau
Which corridors were selected and why?
The opportunity study completed in 2017 concluded that a combination of dedicated public transit measures on the following two corridors were necessary in order to provide effective transit service to Gatineau's west end:
- boulevard des Allumettières (with a variant for boulevard du Plateau); and
- the chemin d'Aylmer / boulevard Alexandre-Taché corridor.
Given the population's geographic distribution, one single corridor would not be able to meet the demand and ensure adequate performance. Different options were subsequently developed around these two chosen corridors.
What is a dedicated public transit system?
It is a public transit system that meets travel needs and transforms the territory development of a city or region.
This system is characterized by the following features:
- frequent and quality service;
- close connection between mobility plans and land use;
- dedicated reserved lanes along the entire route, with priority measures at intersections;
- the potential to provide high capacity transit;
- reliable and competitive travel times compared to single-occupant cars;
- resilience under different circumstances; and
- integration with active modes.
Will the scenario proposed by the mayor of Gatineau be adopted? What if a different scenario is selected?
The scenario presented by the mayor of Gatineau on June 20, 2018 was included in the study and fine-tuned by the consultant WSP (specifically in regard to the crossing over the Ottawa River), and is one of the 5 scenarios that have been reviewed in this study.
The study and the consultation will provide further information on which of these scenarios to recommend the final solution.
Does the “reference scenario” identified in this study correspond to the current system?
The “reference scenario” is an improvement over the current bus system. The bus routes would be redesigned along the main east-west corridors, including boulevard des Allumettières, to reduce the pressure on the Aylmer/Taché reserved lane. Reserved transit lanes and priority measures at traffic lights would be added to the main points of congestion, but no additional dedicated measures.
This scenario is one of the options reviewed to determine the extent to which more limited interventions could meet the objectives identified, and whether more extensive solutions could be justified. This analysis is included in the scope of the on-going complementary study. Thus, this scenario is used as a reference point to which the other scenarios are compared.
Why was the Prince of Wales Bridge not selected?
All of the bridges between Gatineau and Ottawa were considered. The Prince of Wales Bridge is too far from downtown Gatineau and not conducive to efficient service from that area, not only for transit customers from Gatineau's west end, but also for those coming from Ottawa. In addition, the O-Train system would not have the capacity to accommodate all riders from Gatineau wishing to transfer at the Bayview Station. Also a transfer would be required for a short distance to complete the commute. For these reasons, the Prince of Wales Bridge was ruled out as a viable option for the future dedicated public transit system. It remains an option for a secondary link for active transportation and future north/south transit to west of Ottawa's downtown.
Why was the Portage Bridge selected?
- The Portage Bridge was selected because it is conducive to integrating transit customers from both Gatineau's west end and from the Rapibus, it helps to bring more customers within walking distance of their destination and there would be sufficient capacity of the O-Train to accommodate customers who are transferring at Lyon Station.
- The Champlain Bridge was not selected because it is too far to the west, and service for downtown Gatineau would require another route.
- The Macdonald-Cartier Bridge was not selected because it is too far to the east and would not provide efficient service for downtown Ottawa.
- The Chaudière Crossing was not selected because it would not be able to accommodate all of the service requirements for downtown Gatineau, and would have a significant impact on the bridge and structures on the islands.
- The Prince of Wales Bridge was not selected as explained in the response Why was the Prince of Wales Bridge not selected?.
- The Alexandra Bridge was not selected because it only works for transit customers from the Allumettières corridor and Gatineau's east end. Also, this bridge does not have enough in its favour to justify the challenges of integration and the costs.
Has the option of building a tunnel between Gatineau and Ottawa been considered?
This option was considered but technical constraints were too important. The Ottawa River is very deep, and the resulting slopes of the tunnel would be too steep for trams. The costs of such a project would be significant.
Why not integrate the proposed system with the existing O-Train tunnel on the Ottawa side?
Ridership projections for future expansions of the O-Train are too high to also accommodate the dedicated public transit system from Gatineau's west end over the long term.
Also, in Gatineau's case, the proposal is for a smaller urban transit solution, not an LRT like Ottawa's. These are two very different modes and technologies, so the tram would be subject to excessive technical constraints to use the tunnel in combination with Ottawa's LRT.
Connections with the Rapibus and the O-Train, and Transfers
Are connections with the Rapibus in Gatineau's east end and Ottawa's O-Train being considered?
One of the goals is to have the public transit system in Gatineau's west end connect with the Rapibus in order to make it easier for people to reach all Gatineau sectors.
The success of a public transit system in the region depends on efficient travel between Gatineau and Ottawa. In order to ensure the interprovincial link, this public transit system must cross over into Ottawa and connect with the O-Train system.
A good connection and complementarity between those two existing dedicated public transit system modes are essential for improved regional connectivity.
How will this affect Rapibus riders and those in the other Gatineau sectors?
A certain number of Rapibus (route 200) and main route buses from the Gatineau and Hull sectors will continue directly into downtown Ottawa. Riders on the other bus routes will have to transfer onto the new dedicated public transit system in Gatineau in order to get to Ottawa.
Will the new transit stations be accessible, heated, equipped with bike stands, shelters, variable message signs?
The transit stations will be designed with heated shelters, variable message signs to give information for riders, and also bike stands. All of them will be accessible to persons with reduced mobility. The layout of the stations will take into account the built and heritage surroundings.
Will the O-Train Line 1 be able to accommodate the additional riders from Gatineau?
The analysis indicate that the Lyon and Parliament stations would be able to accommodate the projected additional riders from Gatineau.
Will the project involve construction work on the O-Train's Line 1? Will it entail any shut downs on Line 1?
The STO project will not entail any shut down or impact on Line 1. However, it might require some construction work at the existing Line 1 stations if the final recommendations include the construction of pedestrian tunnels between the tram and Line 1 stations.
Costs and Funding
Has funding been confirmed for the project?
At this point, the STO has received confirmation that the Government of Quebec will fund 60% of the project. The STO and the federal government are still discussing the latter's financial contribution to the project. The federal government has stated that it is in favour of the concept of the project on numerous occasions. Thus, the STO is continuing its efforts to fund 100% of the eligible project costs from senior levels of government.
Will the project be financially viable? Will it pay for itself through the new users?
The cost-benefit analyses that are on-going and the STO is working with its stakeholders to define the optimal scenario from the financial and socio-economic points of view. The benefits include shorter travel times for riders (car and bus), reduced use of vehicles (car and bus), and improved road safety and air quality.
This type of system seldom pays for itself through users. Funding would mainly come in the form of subsidies from the Government of Quebec, from the federal government (through programs administered by the Government of Quebec) and from Gatineau.
What is a BRT? A tram? An LRT?
- A BRT (bus rapid transit) is a dedicated public transit system that can use regular, articulated and/or bi-articulated buses. Gatineau's Rapibus is one. The system is dedicated, with feeder routes or accessible to all routes. The lanes are often physically blocked to vehicles (curb, grade separation) but intersections may be shared, with priority signals.
- A tram is an urban dedicated public transit system which calls for a full redesign/reconstruction of underground utilities and roadway infrastructure, urban design makeovers and a dedicated transportation system. The tram tracks usually are not physically separated from other vehicles. Level crossings at intersections have usually absolute priority.
- A LRT (light rail transit) is a semi-urban transit project which serves a large demographic area, with dedicated tracks, i.e. physically separated from vehicles (barriers), with grade separations for intersection crossings. Ottawa's O-Train is one.
Has consideration been given to alternative modes such as light rail, metro or an elevated railway?
Several alternative mode have been considered, including an elevated railway such as the SkyTrain or a suspended monorail. The type of mode is chosen based on the projected number of riders. According to the medium- and long-term ridership projections, systems that can move a very large number of riders, such as light rail transit or metro, have too much capacity for the number of riders that are expected. The costs associated with those types of transit would be far too high in terms of the needs.
Will the vehicles be hybrid or electric? Will they be universally accessible?
Starting in 2025, all new vehicles will be 100% electric. All vehicles will meet the criteria of universal accessibility.
Why is the tram recommended in Gatineau's west end?
As announced in January 2020, the “reference scenario” and the “all bus scenario” were both assessed but not retained because they would be operationally non-viable in the long-term. It has been demonstrated that over the medium and long term, buses alone will not be enough to accommodate public transit riders. A tram would provide sufficient capacity, so the chosen scenario will have to include a rail component, either in the form of an “all tram scenario” (with trams serving both western Gatineau corridors) or a hybrid scenario (with a tram serving one of the two western Gatineau corridors and buses serving the other). Two hybrid options are being looked at.
Is a tram noisy?
The construction of a concrete platform for the tracks would provide the opportunity to compact the ground underneath and install an antivibration membrane. A more solid foundation and strictly electric propulsion would make for less noise and vibration than those generated by buses.
Does a tram have priority at intersections?
A tram is an urban transportation project that generally includes level crossings and could be provided priority at intersections.
What happens if there is a breakdown or an incident?
Under the all tram scenario, the service is concentrated on a single corridor along chemin d'Aylmer, east of boulevard Saint-Raymond. In the event of a breakdown or incident, the service would be interrupted, and bus services would be deployed until the problem is resolved.
In the case of the hybrid scenarios, the service is split between two corridors, east of boulevard Saint-Raymond, which provides an alternative in the case of a breakdown or incident.
Do trams work in snow and freezing rain?
Trams run in Scandinavian cities, and in cities in western Canada and the northern United States. Snow clearing operations are very similar to those on normal roads.
Freezing rain is probably more of a challenge than snow, but given how often trams run, freezing rain should not have time to accumulate on the tracks.
Analyses show that the choice of an electric tram is appropriate for Gatineau's climate.
Consultations and Evaluation Criteria
Will the public consultation results be taken into account in this study?
Input from residents is very important and pertinent for this study. That is why a public consultation was held in June 2019, and another one will take place in June 2020.
The results of the June 2019 public consultation helped identify the elements that are important to respondents, which in turn influenced the criteria and choices for designs.
The June 2020 public consultation will feed the content of the study's recommendations based on the citizen concerns expressed. Please note that this public consultation will focus on integration into downtown Ottawa.
What were the main observations from the June 2019 public consultation?
The following main observations came out of the June 2019 public consultations:
- regarding need, a large majority of respondents felt it was necessary to introduce a dedicated public transit system in Gatineau's west end;
- regarding the transportation mode, close to 2/3 of respondents expressed a preference for the tram as the transportation mode for its greater speed, reliability and long-term viability given its greater capacity; and
- regarding the integration into Ottawa, a majority of respondents believe that the system should go beyond the Lyon O-Train station.
How can residents provide their feedback?
An online consultation run by the STO takes place in June and July 2020. The options and analyses will be presented to the public for review and feedback.
Ottawa residents can submit their questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, and Gatineau residents can submit theirs to email@example.com. The information provided will be submitted to the STO study team.
Are the following factors being taken into consideration in this study?
- Multi-modal connections for pedestrians, bicycles, etc.? The STO supports multi-modal transportation. It wants to give riders the chance to walk or bike to its stations, and to park their bicycles at the stops.
- Additional bike paths? The STO would like to encourage people to use their bicycles and is working with the City of Gatineau and the City of Ottawa towards that goal.
- Needs of families/students? Services to educational institutions and neighbourhood services such as schools and libraries are elements that are taken into consideration in the study.
- Quality of life of residents? Nuisances such as the noise and the vibrations generated by buses are taken into consideration in the analyses of the different scenarios.
- Sustainable development? The STO wants to help promote sustainable development, in respect of the municipal land use and development plan of the City of Gatineau and the sustainable mobility policy of the government of Quebec. To that end, the STO is striving to introduce a public transit system in Gatineau's west end that will help reduce dependence on cars and increase the modal share of public transit.
- Greenhouse gas? The STO wants to establish GHG emission reduction targets in its 2017-2026 strategic plan. Limiting environmental nuisances such as GHG emissions is an objective for the new system. Electrifying transportation would have a significant effect on reducing GHG.
How will the final scenario be selected?
In addition to the June 2020 online public consultation, a multi-criteria analysis and a cost-benefit analysis are underway as part of the comparative assessment of solutions stage. This will help develop the recommended solution:
- the multi-criteria analysis will be used to assess the solutions' performances in regard to the objectives set; and
- the cost-benefit analysis will be used to assess whether the project amounts to a valid investment in a context of limited public financial resources.
Will there be expropriations in connection with this project?
It will be necessary to acquire some land for this project depending on the route and transit mode, the location and layout of the stations. At the current level of detail of the project, it is not yet possible to identify the affected properties. Once the final scenario is selected, the concept will be refined in the next steps of the study. Respondents' concerns about expropriations will be taken into account in the study.
How many trips using the STO's buses involve interprovincial crossings per day?
Of the 86,500 daily trips (including transfer) using the STO, 36,000 (approximately 42%) are interprovincial.
Will the STO offer its users better services on the other routes (evenings and weekends)?
Every year, the STO improves its services for all Gatineau residents, including those in Gatineau's east end, Buckingham and Masson-Angers. The level of service depends on demand and available resources.
The STO would also like to improve its evening and weekend services in accordance with its service standards and design.
How will the STO system be organized once the new dedicated public transit system is in place?
There will be frequent service on the system's corridors, and neighbourhood routes will feed into these corridors. Buses will serve the outskirts, and transfers may be required.
Some Rapibus and Hull periphery buses will continue to run between Gatineau's east end and the Hull periphery and downtown Ottawa.