On May 15, 2020 the Gatineau transit agency, the STO (la Société de transport de l’Outaouais) presented a technical briefing to the City of Ottawa about its studies into improved transit on the Quebec side that would run basically from Place du Portage to Aylmer. There was a particular focus on how the proposed transit, previously narrowed down to include trams (streetcars) in all three options, would land in Ottawa (the language used is Options d’insertion à Ottawa which is standard French urban planning terminology that does not lend itself to a literal translation).
This is about a tram that would cross Portage Bridge from Gatineau to Ottawa and is proposed to deliver passengers somewhere along Wellington Street or Sparks Street, at least as far as Lyon Station, but possibly as far as Parliament Station or even farther east.
Note that this system is nowhere near being funded and approved yet.
UPDATE 2020-06-27: The STO has launched a consultation on how the proposed tramway should arrive on the Ottawa side. Should it go on the surface on Wellington or in a tunnel under Sparks?
There is an STO press release in French only:
The City of Ottawa also did press releases:
- City of Ottawa receives presentation on STO study to link transit between Ottawa and Gatineau
- La Ville d’Ottawa reçoit une présentation sur l’étude de la Société de transport de l’Outaouais pour la création d’une liaison de transport en commun reliant Ottawa et Gatineau
I have to say you would be hard pressed to understand exactly what is being proposed from the Ottawa press releases. The STO one is not super clear on the Portage Bridge part, although it does make the two options for landing in Ottawa clear: either on the surface along Wellington Street, or in a tunnel under Sparks Street.
deux options d’aménagement d’un tramway sont retenues pour la suite de l’étude :
* Une insertion en surface sur la rue Wellington;
* Une insertion en tunnel sous la rue Sparks.
Rather than burying the lede, here’s the key slide from the STO presentation:
From slide 29 in STO’s Complementary Study: Public Transit System in Gatineau’s West End – Technical Briefing to City of Ottawa May 15, 2020 (PDF) on STO webpage Update: Progress of the analysis of options for the integration in Ottawa.
These two slides from the May 2020 presentation sum up their analysis:
From slides 11 and 12 in STO’s Complementary Study: Public Transit System in Gatineau’s West End – Technical Briefing to City of Ottawa May 15, 2020 (PDF) on STO webpage Update: Progress of the analysis of options for the integration in Ottawa.
Why a Tramway?
As seen in this slide from the January 30, 2020 update (presentation available in French only), STO’s study recommends a tramway because the bus-only options don’t have enough capacity for a scenario of 7,000 – 7,500 riders per peak hour over the next 15 years. Also note that to meet that projected demand they’re planning for a future with a tram every 2.4 minutes.
From slide 23 in Étude complémentaire pour la réalisation d’un système de transport collectif structurant dans l’ouest de la ville de Gatineau – Breffage technique 30 janvier 2020 (PDF) on STO webpage Update on the additional study.
As a reminder, here are the three scenarios being considered on the Gatineau side: all-tram (T1), hybrid with rail (in blue) to the north and bus rapid transit (in green) to the south (H1), and hybrid with rail (in blue) to the south and bus rapid transit (in green) to the north (H2).
From slide 24 of Étude complémentaire pour la réalisation d’un système de transport collectif structurant dans l’ouest de la ville de Gatineau – Breffage technique 30 janvier 2020 (PDF) on STO webpage Update on the additional study.
STO and City of Ottawa Information
- Mise à jour : Avancement des analyses d’insertion au centre-ville d’Ottawa
- Update: Progress of the analysis of options for the integration in Ottawa
The STO presentation is available:
- Étude complémentaire pour la réalisation d’un système de transport collectif structurant dans l’ouest de la ville de Gatineau – Breffage technique à la Ville d’Ottawa 15 mai 2020 (PDF) – or Internet Archive copy
- STO’s Complementary [Additional] Study: Public Transit System in Gatineau’s West End – Technical Briefing to City of Ottawa May 15, 2020 (PDF) – or Internet Archive copy
The City of Ottawa info is very high-level and basically just tells you to read the STO webpages.
- Public Transit System for Gatineau’s West End – Complementary [Additional] Study
- Étude complémentaire pour la réalisation d’un système de transport collectif structurant dans l’ouest de la ville de Gatineau
You can watch a recording of the briefing on YouTube. Note that it’s a Zoom meeting so there is a lot happening on screen sometimes (multiple video windows).
June 2020: On-line public consultation for Ottawa and Gatineau. Until then, email contact addresses are available:
- Ottawa – Residents can submit questions or comments at STOwesttransitouest@ottawa.ca
- Gatineau – D’ici là, nous vous invitons à nous faire part de vos questions ou commentaires généraux à l’adresse email@example.com
July 2020: Transportation Committee and Council – present recommended plan for integration in Ottawa
SIDEBAR: What’s Old is New Again
I couldn’t resist bringing forward this comparison from my first blog post in this series, showing that the proposed new rail infrastructure echos rail infrastructure we already had and tore up. The earlier STO map I have chosen shows rail options across either Prince of Wales or Alexandra, which emphasizes in a way that they both used to be rail bridges (Portage was never a rail bridge).
If you put the proposed Gatineau (orange) and Ottawa (red) commuter rail map up against the rail that existed in a map from the Greber Plan (all the black lines on the second map below), it’s pretty striking that with the tracks curving along either side of the river we’re trying to recreate some of what already existed. (You can literally still see the ghost of the old rail line to Aylmer in the curve of what is now a vehicle road by the river.)
Above from Greber Plan: Plate 12 Réseau Ferroviaire Existant Ottawa – Hull and Environs 1948 as made available on the Town and Crown website, 1950 Plan for the National Capital: General Report (Greber Plan) – List of Plates Contained in the Atlas.
Prince of Wales Bridge
If you want to find out more about the various (unfunded) proposals for using the bridge, see my post The future of the Prince of Wales Bridge.
I’ve done three previous blog posts related to the Gatineau west-end rapid transit proposal, with a lot of detail about the history of interprovincial rail including old photos and videos:
May 31, 2019 proposed rail transit for Gatineau west end including rail across Portage Bridge
February 10, 2019 proposed Gatineau west-end rail project
February 13, 2019 Ottawa – Gatineau interprovincial rail
Check with the City of Gatineau and the STO website for updates and for the official word on the specific rail line routes and stations for Gatineau west-end rail.