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Projet structurant dans l'ouest : L'étude confirme le besoin d'un tramway

Published : 01-30-2020

The Société de transport de l'Outaouais (STO) has presented an update on the additional study for a structuring public transit system in Gatineau's west end.

The study by WSP took a detailed look at 5 different scenarios. The first one, involving only buses, as is currently the case, was called the “reference” scenario. It included special features such as reserved lanes and priority at several traffic lights, but remained subject to road congestion. The other 4 scenarios involved structuring measures separating public transit vehicles from others on the two principal axes. One of those 4 scenarios involved buses only (the “all-bus” scenario), another one trams only (“all-tram” scenario) and the other two were “hybrid” scenarios involving trams on one axis and buses on the other.

3 scenarios still on the table
The detailed analysis of the 5 scenarios conducted by WSP revealed that the ones involving only buses, the “reference” and “all-bus” scenarios, were not viable because they would not be able to meet future demand. Over the next 15 years, the number of public transit users crossing the Portage Bridge in the direction of Ottawa during the morning peak period will increase from 3,500 to around 7,500 riders per hour. In order to respond to that increase, the total number of buses required would saturate the reserved lane, even with articulated or bi-articulated buses. As well, adding buses to meet the increased traffic in future years would simply worsen the situation and further tie up traffic. That being the case, the “reference” and “all-bus” scenarios were eliminated from further study.

The 3 scenarios still on the table all have a tram component: the “all-tram” scenario, and the two “hybrid” scenarios. It should be noted that a tram offers close to seven times the capacity of a regular bus, being able to accommodate large numbers of riders as soon as it becomes operational, as well as new ones in the future.

“Gatineau is part of the national capital region, and our economy is closely linked to that of Ottawa, where 40% of Gatineau residents commute to work every day. The future structuring system in the west must not only meet our customers' long-term travel needs, but must also link with Ottawa's public transit system in a common vision of interprovincial transporation focused on the sustainable development of the national capital region,” indicated STO President Myriam Nadeau.

The next step in the study
The additional study now involves comparing the last 3 scenarios in order to identify the one that is to be recommended from a technical point of view. An essential aspect of that analysis is the link to Ottawa's system. In order to properly assess those options and their implications, the STO's Board of Directors agreed to fast-track some of the analyses that were to take place down the road, at the request of the City of Ottawa, a key partner in this process. Thus, WSP will proceed with the detailed analysis of the integration options at a level of detail comparable to that normally used in the preproject phase. The preliminary options will be presented to the City of Ottawas' Transportation Committee this spring, and a public consultation will take place before making a final recommendation.

“In addition to being situated at the heart of the national capital, the structuring project in the west aims to connect two provinces, two cities and two public transit systems. This makes it the most complex public transit structuring project in Canada. As a result, it is essential to work with partners committed to the project's success, that is to say the ministère des Transports du Québec, the National Capital Commission, Ville de Gatineau and the City of Ottawa and OC Transpo,” pointed out Ms. Nadeau.

In order to be able to accelerate the process and start on the next steps planned for the project this year, the STO's Board of Directors has also authorized the use of $16M allocated by the ministère des Transports du Québec to this project. Those funds will make it possible to create four new positions in the project office to assist with the upcoming activities and environmental assessment analyses.

The additional study has been made possible by funding from the governments of Canada and Quebec under the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund.

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