AUGUST 27, 2020 - UPDATE
Public consultation report on the integration scenarios for downtown Ottawa
The Société de transport de l'Outaouais conducted an online consultation from June 22 to July 19, 2020 to give the residents of Gatineau, Ottawa and neighbouring municipalities the opportunity to comment on the different scenarios for integrating the STO transit system into downtown Ottawa.
There were 1,503 respondents, mainly from Gatineau (60%) and Ottawa (38%), but also from neighbouring municipalities, including Chelsea, Cantley, L'Ange-Gardien and Brockville (2%).
The report highlights are as follows:
- The large majority of respondents believe it is important to provide proper service to both downtowns, and to connect Gatineau's and Ottawa's transit systems.
- Three factors emerged from the survey as being the most important to consider when integrating the transit system into Ottawa: performance (84%), a safe and pleasant environment for pedestrians (67%), and service quality (65%).
- Thus, the respondents expect a system that is reliable, resilient and adapted to local winter conditions.
- They also want a pleasant and safe environment for pedestrians, shorter travel times than by car, limited transfers and connection with the Rapibus in the future.
- According to the respondents, the least important elements in regard to the integration are reducing nuisances during the construction (21%), cost (21%) and access for motorized vehicles (16%).
- Half (51%) of the respondents agree with the issue of compatibility in regard to the presence of a tram on Wellington Street and preserving the image and heritage value of the nation's capital and of Parliament Hill. One-third (33%) of the respondents do not believe that it would be compatible. Ontario respondents are more inclined to disagree with this statement (48% of those from Ontario disagree, and 24% from Quebec disagree).
- Many feel that a tram would disfigure Wellington Street, whereas others feel that a tram would lend the city a romantic touch given its association with major European cities, and send a strong message in favour of public transit.
- A tram could run on batteries at specific points.
- Most (60%) respondents are in favour of a tunnel under Sparks Street. Despite the higher costs of this option, the respondents believe it to be the most realistic and viable option over the long-term. The tunnel under Sparks option would best meet the different objectives in terms of:
- the transportation needs of respondents (58%);
- the connections between the STO and OC Transpo systems (66%);
- and improved access to Sparks Street and Parliament Hill (39%). However, respondents were equally (37%) supportive of option 2 (surface integration on Wellington with traffic) on this last point.
- In terms of the Ottawa respondents, one-third do not consider the option of an at grade tram on Wellington with or without vehicles.
- However, there was more support for the Wellington option without traffic than with traffic.
- Respondents are quite comfortable with reducing the number of STO buses in Ottawa:
- although more Quebec respondents wanted a certain number (53%) of buses to remain;
- Ontario respondents believe that the number of STO buses in downtown Ottawa should be reduced (33%) or eliminated entirely (22%) vs. 11% for Gatineau respondents.
- Several respondents indicated that public transit service in side streets on both the Gatineau and Ottawa sides should be maintained and improved.
- Several respondents asked STO to include the environmental issue in the selection criteria for the final choice.