Ottawa’s Transit Plan: Critique

So what would make a good transit plan? I’m not an urban planner, but I can make a few ill-informed guesses:

The plan shouldn’t be based on streeters that ask people what they think of their current transit system – that model is too easily biased. Instead, they should do a survey of where people actually go. Ask them for their home and work/school addresses, for example. Build a map that shows where people go and when, then build transit to service their needs, not what you think they may want.
The plan shouldn’t just have a “vision”, it should also explain how the goal will be met. The existing plan states that they want to see 30% – in 2001, it was around 16%1, but they provide no indication of how those goals will be achieved.
Include city growth as part of the plan. Ottawa is all crawling with new condos downtown and new subdivisions in the ‘burbs. The plan should serve existing population centres and plan for new growth.
The transit plan should include zoning amendments to encourage growth and in-fill around transit lines. The old 2020 plan alluded to that, but the new napkin sketch doesn’t even raise the possibility.
The plan should provide a basic breakdown of costs. We’re told that laying track from Baseline station to Blair, and from the Rideau Centre past the airport is only $660 million more expensive than upgrading the transitway? And that a fleet of a few dozen trains won’t cost much more to buy than the 690 buses that OC Transpo runs? That may be true, but it’s hard to believe without knowing where the numbers came from.

The proposed plan is fine – if we want to pay around three billion dollars to get the same service we have today.

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