An artist’s representation of the new Ottawa light-rail project.
Frequent Bulldog contributor Ron Benn weighs in on the fact that the light-rail plan has not set any targets for ridership.
Benn’s article is below. It should be required reading for anyone interested in Ottawa’s LRT.
The problems plaguing the LRT are plentiful. Rather than get bogged down examining the minutia, I think it prudent to view it from 9,140 metres (30,000 feet for those of us from the old school).
While I lack Sheridan’s considerable research skills and requisite patience in citing quotes and published statements, so I stand to be corrected, but I cannot find any publicly stated, measurable goals for the LRT, in any of its various phases.
With no measurable goals, there is no way to determine whether, when it is eventually finished, that it has been a success. More, farther, faster are imprecise measures. These are the measures for the social (faux) sciences (how many of you remember when these were called Social Studies), not from the applied sciences. As such, success or failure can be declared arbitrarily, depending on one’s agenda.
With no stated goals, the choice of route was not critical to its success. How many passengers, the length of the track (which is a proxy for the area covered) that it collects these passengers from, and the speed with which it delivers the passengers to their destination are of passing interest if one has no desire to measure the actual results and compare them against the baseline numbers, which might have come from a properly executed ridership study.
The route appears to have been chosen based on achieving some form of hybrid model. If one looks at the ink splotches that lay out the eventual, possibly maybe route for LRT Phase III, it eventually reaches the inner edges of the outer suburbs, so it has the potential to address the second half of Ottawa’s population sometime before everyone currently working retires. However, with so many stops inside the greenbelt, it morphs from a higher volume, longer distance, shorter travel time model to a modified street car (the Carling Avenue model). What applied scientists know about hybrids is that they fail to excel at either end of the spectrum they are trying to achieve. They are about trade offs.
Which takes me to SludgeHammer’s comment on a related post about Ottawa’s LRT being world class. How so? Will it be among the longest in the world? No. Will it carry the most passengers? Not even on a per kilometre, or per capita basis. Will it be the fastest? Not even close. Will it have the most inspiring paint job? Well, red and white are the colours of an inspiring nation, but seriously, horizontal stripes? Simply saying that it is world class is just a phrase some sociology major inserts into their mid-term essay. It is not something a student of the applied sciences would say, unless they could back it up with numbers.
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