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.
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.
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