Taking the LRT on a test drive during Ottawa's morning commute
Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa
Published Monday, September 16, 2019 3:02PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, September 16, 2019 6:48PM EDT
Thousands of transit riders switched from their OC Transpo ride to school and work today, opting instead to try the new LRT line. CTV News followed one rider early this morning who was testing the new LRT line to commute downtown. Alyson Fair hopped on her usual 95 bus at Marketplace in Barrhaven, and then transferred onto the LRT at Tunney's for the ride to Parliament Station.
If you live in the 'burbs, you already know there is no easy way downtown during rush hour traffic. We decided to compare notes with Alyson: she timed her trip on transit and a CTV news crew drove.
It's 7:30 in the morning and the rush is already on at the Marketplace transit stop in Barrhaven.
“I'm headed from here to the University of Ottawa,” says student Surabhi Velagala, “I switch at Tunney's pasture.”
Today, though, that switch will involve the new LRT line.
“Kind of nervous,” she says, “because this is my first time using it.”
It will be Alyson Fair's first LRT ride, too. She lives in Manotick and takes the bus downtown from Barrhaven.
“Usually, it takes me 40 minutes because it's one bus,” she says, “I have never had to do a transfer.”
She'll have to transfer at Tunney's today, though, to catch the LRT. But she's excited.
“After all this time working downtown and seeing the construction, and seeing the delays, it's quite exciting.”
Alyson hops on the bus at 7:37and is on the train at 8:17, forty minutes later, even recording part of the experience, which she finds relaxing.
My cameraman and I, on the other hand, are driving downtown. It is not so relaxing. We arrive outside Parliament Station at 8:27, a 50-minute drive in very congested traffic. Alyson is already there.
“Hi, I'm here,” she says, “I'm quite impressed. That was a fun ride and a good way to start the morning.”
She arrived at 8:22, a full 5 minutes before us. But still, longer than her usual commute.
“Not what I’m used to but a great experience, worth the wait.”
That's the message we heard from many transit riders today.
“This is awesome, Ottawa, fantastic,” says one woman as she comes through the doors at Parliament Station, “I'm so excited.”
“Easy, it made my commute faster as well by a good ten minutes,” says Joanna Gajdicar.
Don Murray says, “As far as my commute, it was only 6 minutes as opposed to 15 or 20 minutes to get downtown.”
Ottawa Councillor Glen Gower was testing the tracks to see how long the trip to city hall would take him.
“I left the Eagleson park and ride, it was a 25 minute ride to Tunney’s, 9 minutes from Tunney's to Parliament. So pretty good.”
And Don Kerr was checking accessibility issues as he moved along in his motorized wheelchair.
“No problem at all,” he said, “The elevators are pretty good.”
But not everyone had glowing reviews.
“It was great,” says Susan Cobb, “but it wasn't as quick as I thought it would be. It's not as quick as the bus.”
And on-line, @hukka_king saying, “It has made (the ride) longer. Earlier, I used to take the 97 from Bayshore to South Keys but now it takes 20 min. longer. And I have to change 3 times.”
It has made longer . Earlier i used to take 97 from bayshore to south keys but now it takes 20 mins longer . And have to change 3 times— akshit (@hukka_king) September 16, 2019
And @AlexBeaudoin2 saying, “Took it from Blair to UOttawa and walked over the canal to work! Was impressed with the speed! I was dreading this, but it was not as bad as I thought.”
Took it from Blair to UOttawa and walked over the canal to work! Was impressed with the speed! I was dreading this, but it was not as bad as I thought! pic.twitter.com/oxE8rayCSE— Alex Beaudoin (@AlexBeaudoin2) September 16, 2019
So, with one day of a busy work-day commute under our belt...people are talking about the next phase of LRT.
“That would be awesome if we have LRT,” said one woman at the Barrhaven Marketplace transit station, “Maybe only 20 minutes going to downtown? That would save a lot of time.”
“I love it,” added Floyd Pushelberg, about the LRT, “It's amazing. I can't wait for it to come to Baseline Station.”