Ottawa Offers Lessons in Transitioning from BRT to Light Rail

Nour Aoude examines the planning efforts behind Ottawa's new Confederation light rail line, which will replace sections of the over-used Transitway bus rapid transit line.

1 minute read

August 31, 2014, 11:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Ottawa Transitway ROW

Mike Gifford / Flickr

Ottawa is planning to begin light rail service on the new Confederation Line in 2018, with the Western LRT replacing service along a section of the current Transitway bus rapid transit system that spans the city.

As Nour Aoude reports, the Transitway was originally constructed with an eventual transition to rail in mind. "The impression was that it would be cheaper to build BRT first, and then convert to LRT. However, the high costs of operating and replacing buses over the years, and of converting the Transitway to light rail ($540 million for the Confederation Line alone) have put this wisdom into question. Today, it seems that building LRT from the start might have saved costs in the long run."

Aoude's coverage of the issue also includes discussion of the outreach that will be necessary to educate the public about the benefits of rail and the hopes for development along the line.

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