Free wifi, parties planned 2 days from LRT launch
Commuters at St. Laurent Shopping Centre are ready to ride the LRT; retailers hoping business will boom.
The mall will host a party Saturday afternoon from 1 to 5 featuring live music, food, giveaways and special offers to shoppers riding the new transit system.
“We're actually giving away 100 presto passes so that our customers can actually stop and shop and take the passes and ride the LRT on us,” said Mary Knapp, G.M. of St. Laurent Shopping Centre.
Some shoppers forgot opening day was less than 2 days away.
“Oh this Saturday? It's this Saturday,” said commuter Beatrice Triana. “I forgot it was this Saturday!”
While tourists in the ByWard Market are intrigued by the opportunity to ride the train through nearby Rideau station; hoping the system goes off without a hitch.
“Mass transit is the way to go,” said tourist Paul Neal from South Carolina. Neal said he’d ride the light rail trains in a heartbeat.
Market shop owners have waited years for opening day; which was delayed for more than a year.
“We're thankful for this addition,” said Le Hoang of Amore Gelato.
Rebecca Styles of Lois and Frima’s Ice Cream hut on George street said the business will add fried food in the winter; including poutine to its menu.
“Business should really be booming this winter especially with the trains,” said Styles.
“I think it's going to bring a new whole new group of down people to the ByWard Market, something we've been waiting quite a while for,” said Larissa Beznaczuk-Smyrnew of La Bottega on George street. “I think it'll make kind of that European feel kind of access.”
The City of Ottawa announced a partnership Thursday afternoon with Telus; the internet and wireless provider has invested nearly $11-million to offer commuters free wifi at the underground Parliament, Lyon and Rideau stations. All 13 LRT stations should have full coverage in the next year according to city officials and representatives from Telus.
“Over the next few months, we're going to enhance the existing network,” said Francois Gratton, Group President of Telus.
OC Transpo crews spent much of Thursday shining up and cleaning the stations, testing trains ensuring everything is running smoothly ahead of the official launch Saturday at 2pm.