Hamilton LRT Vs Ottawa’s LRT

They City of Ottawa is in the process of converting their existing BRT system to an LRT.  Some have tried to link Ottawa’s decision to convert a BRT system into an LRT as proof of an LRT’s superiority vs a BRT system.  Ottawa made the decision to grow their ridership first before investing in LRT and opted for a BRT system first.  The decision helped Ottawa grow its transit ridership and deferred the capital expense of construction until the system had reached a point of needing additional capacity.

A closer look at the conditions on the ground in Ottawa show many of the conditions that the McMaster Institute of Transportation & Logistics points to as contributing to a successful LRT system including: a high rate of congestion, substantial ridership, and limited parking along the route.  It also connects many key destinations including: Parliament, The University of Ottawa, and makes significant connections to the suburbs.


Ottawa Congestion

The Ottawa Citizen wrote a story covering a TomTom study on traffic congestion.  The study ranked the most congested cities in North America.  In 2014 Ottawa ranked 10th in North America just behind San Jose and Toronto.  It measured the congestion level at 26% meaning the average commuter will spend an additional 31 minutes a day commuting due to congestion.  That adds up to 119 hours a year or nearly 5 full days or nearly 14 working days.    The highways and local roads had separate congestion levels with the highways at only 19% but the local roads at 28%.  The stats have since been updated for 2015.

Although LRT systems have not been shown to reduce congestion Ottawa is currently running up to 180 busses per hour through their downtown.  The removal of theses busses and the addition of their underground LRT will likely have an effect on the above ground congestion going forward.

Hamilton Congestion

As a comparison, Hamilton ranked 11 out of 12 cities to be the second least congested city in the country.  The TomTom study looked at the overall road network including the highways but did not break out the differences between the upper and lower city.  Hamilton’s Main/King corridor for example typically experiences very few traffic related delays even during peak hours.

Ottawa LRT Proposed Ridership vs Hamilton LRT Proposed Ridership

Ottawa is presently carrying over 10,000 passengers peak hour peak direction.  At this point their system is at capacity and needs to be upgraded.  Their projections are also assuming a further 9% increase in ridership once the new LRT is in place as a result of the new capacity.

Hamilton on the other hand is currently running around 1100 passengers peak hour peak direction through the Main/King/Queenston corridor.  That number drops to only 444 if you factor in only those travelling on the express B-Line service which runs similar stop distances as the proposed LRT.


Hamilton HSR B-Line ridership as of March 2016

A scan of a chart provided by David Dixon the City’s Director of Transit shows the current ridership on the B-Line

Ottawa's 2014 BRT Ridership along the Transitway Dedicated Right of Way

Ottawa’s 2014 BRT Ridership along the Transitway Dedicated Right of Way

Ottawa Citizen

Traffic jams: Ottawa is third most congested city in Canada, says survey

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2015 Congestion Index

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CBC Hamilton

Hamilton has second lowest traffic congestion rate in country: study

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2015 Hamilton Congestion Index

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OC Transpo Reports

City of Ottawa (2014)

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Park and Ride

Ottawa has built significant Park and Ride lots both near their LRT as well as near their feeder lines to get people from their cars to transit.

City of Ottawa Transit Map

An Ottawa transit map showing the locations of their Park and Ride lots.

Ottawa Park and Ride (2014)

Ottawa has invested significantly in their park and ride infrastructure, adding to the available parking spaces each year between 2010 and 2014.

The availability of parking along transit corridors allow for people to leave their cars behind and take transit.

Ottawa Park and Ride Spots by Station

A station by station breakdown of park and ride spaces.

2014 Annual Performance Report

City of Ottawa OC Transpo

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