Frequently asked questions
Here are all the questions addressed by the public, as part of the November 24th information evening on the extension of the Rapibus corridor, and answers submitted.
Wasn't the Rapibus corridor originally supposed to go as far as boulevard Lorrain?
Yes, that was in the plans from the very start. Due to a number of unforeseen developments along the way, the STO had to make some choices, including phasing in the project and first completing the portion up to boulevard Labrosse.
How much will it cost to extend the Rapibus corridor to boulevard Lorrain?
This public transit project, including the bike path, all of the required environmental measures and the $1.7 M paid into the Fonds de protection de l'environnement et du domaine hydrique de l'État, comes to $47 M. Quebec's ministère des Transports will pay 75% of that through the Programme d'aide au transport collectif des personnes et aux immobilisations en transport en commun, and the STO will cover the rest.
Is the Rapibus corridor extension really necessary and timely given the current pandemic and drop in ridership?
By 2031, the population in Gatineau's east end is expected to increase by 30%. This will place more pressure on the roads and increase the demand for public transportation. Therefore, we have to plan and build today what will be needed over the next 20 to 30 years.
What are the expected benefits for the residents in Gatineau's east end?
Extending the Rapibus corridor to boulevard Lorrain will provide residents living east of parc du Lac-Beauchamp more direct access to the major hubs, such as the Cégep de l'Outaouais, the Centre sportif, the Maison de la culture and the CLSC. With the addition of a few local routes from the east end to feed into the corridor and a few new Rapibus routes from boulevard Lorrain, the extension will provide them with more options. When the time comes, public consultations will be organized to address the changes to be made to the public transit system.
Why not take the Rapibus corridor through boulevard Maloney or boulevard Saint-René instead of through parc du Lac-Beauchamp?
Effective and optimal movement requires that the Rapibus use dedicated lanes, separate from those used by cars. A number of corridors were considered for the extension between boulevard Labrosse and boulevard Lorrain, and it was determined that the train tracks were the only means of providing a two-way reserved bus corridor. Using boulevard Maloney or boulevard Saint-René involved issues of space or impact on the system's performance. That is why the train tracks were chosen. Finally, running the corridor through parc du Lac-Beauchamp will enable residents to access the park by bus all year-long.
Why is a bus system being developed for Gatineau's east end while the west end and Ottawa are going to be connected by a tram? Why not just insert a light rail system in the Rapibus corridor right off given that the tracks are already there?
When planning a public transit system, you have to choose the most appropriate mode for the projected number of trips. In the west end, a tram is the mode under study because it will best serve the customers over the long-term. When the Rapibus corridor was planned, the study conducted at the time indicated that a bus rapid transit system would be the best option.
Are there plans to extend the Rapibus corridor to boulevard de l'Aéroport?
When the Rapibus project was being planned, the corridor's extension to boulevard de l'Aéroport and, over the longer term to the Buckingham sector was on the table. Before proceeding, an opportunity study for an extension between boulevard Lorrain and boulevard de l'Aéroport will have to be done in the next few years.
How come the train tracks don't have to be moved in a central part of the corridor between Labrosse and Lorrain, but they have to be moved at the two ends of the corridor?
The two ends of the section will be in a built-up urban area, so in a narrower space. At the boulevard Labrosse end, the tracks will be moved to link to the existing Rapibus corridor. At the boulevard Lorrain end, we have to move the tracks because of the building standing there. The central section of the train tracks will not be touched for environmental reasons and for stability.
How far are the tracks currently operational? Could that present a problem for future extensions?
The tracks currently go as far as Montréal, and are part of a larger network. The portion between Montréal and Ottawa, which is the one that concerns us in connection with this project, is the emergency route used to detour trains running between Montréal and Toronto. The government requires that this train corridor be maintained. In the event of a future extension, if it goes through an urban or a natural area, we will have to determine whether the tracks will be maintained as they stand or repositioned to free up the space needed for the extension.
When the extension comes into operation, will local routes such as the 71, 73 and 75, which currently run between de La Cité and Labrosse, continue to Lorrain? Will the Buckingham/Masson-Angers 97 terminal still be at Labrosse or will it move to Lorrain? Which bus routes will use the Rapibus from Lorrain, and which ones will require a transfer at Lorrain?
It is too soon to say how the service will be organized after the Labrosse-Lorrain portion opens. That being said, we know that some of the local routes from the east will integrate the corridor, and some Rapibus routes will start at Lorrain. Finally, residents in Gatineau's east end will have more options. When the time comes, public consultations will be organized to address the changes to be made to the public transit system.
Will all of the departures of the high frequency routes using the Rapibus corridor to Labrosse Station continue until Lorrain Station?
Initially, only some of the routes using the Rapibus corridor will continue until boulevard Lorrain. Later on, the service will be adjusted based on ridership and needs.
Will we be able to park our cars in the parc du Lac-Beauchamp parking lot and then take the Rapibus from Lac-Beauchamp Station?
No, because the parc du Lac-Beauchamp parking lot is reserved for parc visitors only. The parc du Lac-Beauchamp parking lot is not a park-and-ride. Public transit users will be able to park at the Labrosse or Lorrain park-and-rides, which, respectively, have 579 and 219 parking places.
Is the fact that park-and-rides are at full capacity an indication of a service shortage in areas that are not within walking distance of the Rapibus corridor?
Park-and-rides along the Rapibus corridor are definitely very popular. This interest can be attributed to a number of factors. Some people park there to get to their cars quickly so they can shop on the way home, pick up their children from day care or take advantage of the more frequent service. In terms of local routes, over the years the STO has enhanced its local services to ensure more frequent services to the Rapibus stations, thereby enabling more people to catch the bus from home.
Given the chronic congestion on boulevard Lorrain, even during the lockdown, won't the problem be exacerbated by this new offer of service?
According to the traffic studies conducted for this project, the expected service levels are acceptable. Local roads are already saturated, and part of the solution is precisely to shift commuters to public transit. At the same time, the STO is taking steps to make its service even more attractive.
Lorrain and Lac-Beauchamp station infrastructures
The new Lorrain Station has two new uncovered bike stands that can hold up to 14 bicycles. Why are these not be covered like the ones at Labrosse Station?
Thank you, that's an excellent point. We will look into it!
Will it be possible to add to the 14-bike capacity at Lorrain Station in the future?
Of course. Increased demand is the kind of challenge we like. Barring any space constraints, or the future needs of the other processes and systems at this terminal, this type of request will be addressed!
Why do we need a station? Can't riders simply wait in the pavilion? Given that Lac-Beauchamp Station will be out in the middle of nowhere, won't it be vulnerable to vandalism?
Lac-Beauchamp Station will provide public transit users with direct and safe access to the bus in the park and to all of the recreational activities there. The Hélène Larochelle outdoor centre is more than 150 metres from the Rapibus corridor, which is too far for people to reach the bus stop on time once they see the buses approaching. In regard to vandalism, there will be cameras on both sides of the corridor.
Will Lac-Beauchamp Station be on the north or south side of the Rapibus corridor?
On both sides in order to serve customers heading either east or west in Gatineau.
Will the traffic lights at boulevard Labrosse give buses priority?
Yes, the same as all other traffic lights along the Rapibus corridor.
Will there be bike racks at the future Lac-Beauchamp Station?
No, because in order to minimize our footprint in the park, Lac-Beauchamp Station will be a small one essentially intended to attract visitors. Cyclists will be able to reach it on the multi-purpose pathway or by using the bike racks on buses.
What will be done to ensure our safety at Lac-Beauchamp Station? It's rather isolated.
Lights and cameras will be installed at the future Lac-Beauchamp Station. In addition, there will be emergency buttons connected to our operations centre.
What will be provided at the future Lac-Beauchamp Station?
There will be two structures, one on the south and one on the north sides of the Rapibus corridor, both with benches, trash cans and variable message signs indicating the planned and actual arrival times of the next buses. The Station will be fitted with lights and cameras.
Will Lac-Beauchamp Station be accessible to people with reduced mobility?
Yes. The architectural design of the future Lac-Beauchamp Station will be identical to that of all the other Rapibus stations, which all comply with universal accessibility standards. In addition to being paved and lit, the pathway connecting the station to the Hélène Larochelle outdoor centre will also be accessible.
What will be the impact on the environment?
The Rapibus corridor extension will run through parc du Lac-Beauchamp, so there will be an impact on the environment. The STO is working with environmental experts to ensure that it does everything right and complies with current laws, regulations and by-laws. In order to reduce as much as possible the impact of the construction work, environmental measures will be applied wherever necessary.
Approximately 3% of 240 hectares of forest will be affected: do you have a plan to reforest other parts of parc du Lac-Beauchamp to reduce your imprint?
As indicated, the work area, which includes the train tracks, represents 3%. However, if you don't count the existing train tracks, the required reforestation comes to less than 3%. In fact, by opting for a route along the train tracks, we are minimizing the impact on the mature forest. In order to compensate for the lost trees, we will vegetalize the counterweight area, including planting trees and shrubs along the north side of the Wabassee creek.
What proportion of the lost space will consist of ponds and wetlands?
Less than 1%. In fact, the project will affect approximately 25,000 m2 of wetlands and water environments. To offset this loss, the STO has paid just over $1.7 M into Quebec's Fonds de protection de l'environnement et du domaine hydrique de l'État managed by the ministère de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques. This money will be used for other environmental projects or compensation measures within Gatineau.
This winter, will you be removing the tree stumps at the bottom of the ponds? If so, what will you do with the frogs and turtles that may be hibernating in the silt under those tree stumps?
Field work was conducted precisely to prepare the terrain. Close to 4 kilometres of temporary wildlife barriers were put up to delimit the future work area. Small species such as tree frogs, toads, snakes, frogs, turtles and others were relocated outside that area. Hundreds of them were carefully relocated in accordance with the proper procedures for each one, outside the delimited zone, but close to it to provide them a similar habitat.
Have you provided crossings for whitetail deer?
We asked Quebec's ministère de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques and its ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs about that. Due to the low density of bus traffic and the ability to whitetail deer to move freely between the northern and southern portions of parc du Lac-Beauchamp, they confirmed that there was no need to add specific infrastructures for them.
Have you taken all the necessary steps to protect the environment?
The STO is committed to meeting all of the environmental requirements and to adding several compensatory measures to reduce as much as possible the impact of the construction work. In fact, the STO has been mindful of the concerns of the general public and of the special interest groups that took part in the public consultations on the Rapibus corridor project.
Is the temporary wildlife barrier periodically inspected to ensure the protection and movement of wildlife at the dedicated locations?
Inspections have taken place since the temporary wildlife barrier was installed, and certain adjustments have already been made. The contractor is responsible for maintaining that barrier during construction, until a permanent wildlife barrier is installed.
What will happen with the salty runoff water in the winter?
Keeping the road safe in the winter does mean that the snow will be contaminated by de-icing salt. We want to ensure that when the snow melts in the spring, the runoff water does not end up in the natural environments. As a result, we collect and treat that water in drainage trenches or ditches like the bioretention basin at Lorrain Station. The vegetation there absorbs the suspended matter, for instance phosphorus, so that the water that runs off does not disturb the natural environment.
Will you be diverting the Wabassee creek at rue Martin?
The creek will remain in its current bed, but the waters flowing south will be channelled through a larger culvert. The southern portion of the creek will also be reprofiled and cleaned to better accommodate and contain the expected volume of water.
You mentioned bird nesting boxes. Will you be working with the Club des ornithologues de l'Outaouais? Who will be responsible for their upkeep?
You are correct in that the bird nesting boxes and roost will have to be maintained. The STO has not yet decided how that will be done and who will be responsible. One option would be a partnership with the Club des ornithologistes de l'Outaouais.
Have you consulted with bike groups and walkers to design a truly useful and practical infrastructure? Have you allowed for separate walking lanes?
Residents, but in particular cyclists, were consulted through the 2017 participatory mapping of the bike path master plan, the Plan directeur du réseau cyclable. The multi-use pathway will be shared by walkers and cyclists. The number of users is not expected to cause any problems in terms of sharing the pathway, which will help reduce the environmental footprint.
Will the multi-use pathway be lit at night?
Only the two multi-use pathway intersections and the crossing next to the future Lac-Beauchamp Station will be lit.
Will the snow be cleared from the multi-use pathway?
For the time-being, Ville de Gatineau is not expected to clear the multi-use pathway. However, the path connecting the future Lac-Beauchamp Station to the Hélène Larochelle outdoor centre will be cleared.
Do you intend to maintain the bike path for safety reasons?
The multi-use pathway will be maintained by Ville de Gatineau. Under the new Plan directeur du réseau cyclable, additional funds will be allocated to maintaining and sweeping bike paths and multi-use pathways.
Why are both the eastern and western tips of the bike path located south of the Rapibus corridor and train tracks?
There is not enough room on the north side of the Rapibus in those areas for the multi-use pathway. Three different layouts for the multi-use pathway were studied. This one was chosen because it is the safest and most efficient, and has the least environmental impact.
Why are there no benches along the bike path?
Adding benches along the multi-use pathway would require further encroachment on the surrounding environment.
Will chicanes really be installed at the bike crossings? They reduce mobility, particularly for families using bike trailers, tandems, cargo bikes and so on.
Yes, chicanes are required under railway regulations because this is a level crossing for pedestrians and cyclists. The purpose of the chicanes is to slow the movement of pedestrians and cyclists on the multi-use pathways as they approach the tracks.
Dog park / Dog owners
The project is raising concerns among more and more Gatineau residents who have dogs. Will the Rapibus corridor extension have an impact on the dog park? Also, will you connect the dog park and parc du Lac-Beauchamp?
No impact is expected because the dog park is at the far north end, outside of parc du Lac-Beauchamp. It will continue to be accessible from boulevard Saint-René. Given that dogs are not permitted in parc du Lac-Beauchamp, no link is planned between the two.
Will dogs be allowed on the multi-use pathway?
The bike path will be multi-use, so yes, dogs on leash will be allowed.
Will the Rapibus corridor extension be noisy?
No more so than the trains already running along the train tracks. The corridor will be built on the north side of the right-of-way, so far from recreational areas, the pavilion and the beach. Also, parc du Lac-Beauchamp is a wooded area, and the trees naturally muffle the noise, as they do with the cars travelling along boulevard Maloney and boulevard Saint-René. In addition, starting in 2025, electric buses, which are even quieter, will gradually integrate the STO fleet.
Will the project involve any expropriations?
No expropriation is foreseen under the project, only purchases of properties along the train tracks, for instance to the south for the multi-use pathway.
How will the Wabassee creek be managed at the end of rue Martin before, during and after the work?
This issue does not fall under the purview of this public transit project, but rather that of Ville de Gatineau. The STO's responsibility is merely to ensure that water can keep flowing between the north and south parts of the Wabassee creek watersheds.
Will there be a privacy hedge behind the properties on rue Martin and north of the Rapibus corridor?
The space between those properties and the bike path is very narrow, and no visual screen is foreseen at this time. Nonetheless, as was the case with the construction of the Rapibus corridor until Labrosse, once the project is completed, we will be able to determine if a privacy hedge would be appropriate.
Users of the park
Will the construction work have an impact on outdoor activities in parc du Lac-Beauchamp?
Not at all, given that the corridor will be built on the north side of the train track right-of-way, so far from the recreational areas, the pavilion and the beach, which means that there should be no impact on any of the recreational activities.
Will the pathway connecting the future Lac-Beauchamp Station to the Hélène Larochelle outdoor centre be redesigned?
Yes. We are working with Ville de Gatineau on redesigning that pathway in a way that will ensure the safety of public transit users and visitors to the park. In addition to paving, lighting and markings, this pathway will meet universal accessibility standards.
Would it be possible to keep the old poles supporting the wires for the train tracks for a potential joint project with Ville de Gatineau?
In the interest of safety, the poles will be removed from the train track right-of-way and dismantled. If anyone is interested in those poles, bearing in mind the fact that some of them may have been treated with chemical or other products, the STO is prepared to entertain their proposals.