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London Rapid Transit (In-Design)

micheal_can

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micheal_can

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Yep. What a bizarre takeaway on the Ottawa Transitway.

The Transitway is being replaced because ridership actually reached LRT levels. That's a sign of success. Not failure. Ottawa has incredible transit ridership for a city of its size. If only other cities could "fail" like Ottawa.

canadianridership.jpg


Ottawa actually offers up a decent model of development for small and midsized metros to follow. They built the Transitway quite cheaply and were able to reach the suburbs. This let them offer one-seat rides to the core for lots of suburban commuters. They were able to build up ridership (not in the least because the largest employer in town heavily discourages driving to work). And then when it came time to convert to rail, they didn't require much land acquisition. Consider that Ottawa is going from 8 km to 65 km of fully segregated and grade separated rail in about a decade and a half, for ~$7 billion. There is no way Ottawa's LRT network would be this big if they had to buy the ROWs today.

What if Ottawa built this as an LRT when they acquired the ROWs Wouldn't their system be about the same as their Phase 2?
 

kEiThZ

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In fact, because of the failures of the LRT, many in the city want to return back to the busway format - which granted is impossible at this point, but it goes to show how good bus service could be, and how people are willing to use it if you make it good.

A lot of people in Ottawa were not happy with the LRT changeover. And it wasn't because it's the construction disruption. Suburbanites were unhappy because they lost the one-seat rides that the rush hour express buses provided. Urbanites weren't happy to see frequencies drop in some parts with trains so packed they couldn't get on (at launch).

Anybody who thinks buses can't be popular should go to Ottawa and talk to suburbanites. I would bet money that BRT is more popular than LRT in Ottawa.
 

micheal_can

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Kingston had a horrible bus system, so they changed it and made it better. They are now used as a good study for what can happen when you improve bus service by adding express routes and buying some nicer buses, they didn't even build any dedicated BRT. Increased service and a new paint job can go a long way to moving people towards using transit.

Well, if I were to believe London is serious about transit, then I would expect what Kingston did. Notice how that is not happening? This isn't about what is best for everywhere. This is about what is best for London. What I am seeing is BRT will be a flop.

Non-transit users: "I can't use transit unless they build a subway to my front door."

Actual transit users: "I just want the buses to run frequently enough that I don't have to check a schedule. Bus shelters would be nice too."

LTC can do a lot to improve before they build any rail. Starting with improved payment systems (open payments or Presto), better bus stops (with real time info displays in more places), electric buses, full 24/7 express network, and more bus infrastructure in general (from bus bays to bus lanes). There's a lot of low-hanging fruit. And if they don't tackle that, LRT really ain't gonna help all that much.
I fully agree. So, when will the LTC be announcing those changes?
 

micheal_can

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You seem to focus on only one side: the disruption from conversion. There's the other side: cost. Ottawa is going from one 8-km infrequent train line to 65 km of high frequency, fully grade separated rail in about a decade and a half from plan approval to entry-into-service. This is being done for about $7B. About $110M/km give or take. There is literally nowhere on this continent building this much high quality rail transit, this fast, for this cheap. And this is only possible because Ottawa had the Right-of-Way for more than half the LRT from the Transitway or highway medians.

This is effectively a Just-in-time (JIT) upgrade of transit capacity, being delivered to match increased demand (sans COVID). They didn't overspend on transit earlier. And the land acquisition made for the Transitways saved them hundreds of millions (possibly billions if more tunneling would have been required).

Also, as seen in the graph above, Ottawa achieved ridership modal share on par with Toronto and Montreal using just the Transitways. That alone should tell you how successful BRT can be.

Given that London has technologies and funding that was not available to Ottawa when they built most of the Transitway network, and given that London is probably at least three decades away from breaking a million, they have a long way to go before needing the capacity that rail offers. They could build a very high quality bus and BRT system using all electric buses. Including tunnels in the core (lower ventilation requirements with electric buses).

Lastly, when their city council considers BRT too expensive, LRT seems like a red herring that will lead to no RT getting built.

So, the constant issues with their new operational system should be ignored too?

My biggest concern is whether it will be done to true BRT standards or will it be just a reserved lane that is blocked by who knows what else that wish to park there.

A lot of people in Ottawa were not happy with the LRT changeover. And it wasn't because it's the construction disruption. Suburbanites were unhappy because they lost the one-seat rides that the rush hour express buses provided. Urbanites weren't happy to see frequencies drop in some parts with trains so packed they couldn't get on (at launch).

Anybody who thinks buses can't be popular should go to Ottawa and talk to suburbanites.

So, imagine 20-30 years from now that happening to Londonites. Why waste the money now? Why not improve the existing system instead of spending more money just to see it wasted decades from now.

Your argument was that BRT can't be run through urban cores. You're now moving goalposts.

No. I am saying that if the plan was to go LRT, doing BRT, especially in a city know for bad bus transit is a bad idea.
 

ARG1

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Not at all. However, it would show whether the BRT plan was a good idea or whether there was a real demand for higher level RT. For example, if that section of the line, ridership doubled the former VIVA route, then we can see not only the success of the upgrade to a subway, but that there is a good chance there was new riders.
Well depends on what its replaced by, a subway or an LRT?

If the former, then the ridership would increase tremendously. If the latter, it might increase by a bit? but still a very small amount.
That is a good question. Actually, that is a very good question. VIVA has been around since 2005, so in 15 years, it covers most of the region. There is currently a Silver Line that will be added in the next year. There is no talk of upgrading except for existing subway extensions. The Transitways in Ottawa were upgraded after about 30 years. However, the pain of the Ottawa upgrade has been less than desirable. If London released a full build out that extended from the 401 to Fanshawe Park Rd, from Airport Rd to beyond Hyde Park Rd within 10-15 years, I would go for the BRT. However, unless someone can find a source, I have not seen that. K/W did not have a BRT along their route prior to the iON. They did/do have express routes, but not a BRT.
This is actually a really good point on your end, but here is something to consider: The issue Ottawa faced is that it was converting a fully grade separated transitway into an LRT. The replacement bus service had to be done along vaguely tangential routes that substantially increased travel time. By contrast, services like VIVA operate mainly on street, and if it ever needs to upgrade to LRT, you can just put busses curbside and while there will be a downgrade in service it won't be too drastic.

As for K/W, most of the route operates on old rail corridors where rail would be cheaper to make, especially with early 2010s money. Had it not been that fact, I honestly think K/W should've went for BRT.
Streetcars to bus.... Ok... Show me a bus route in Toronto that is busier than the busiest streetcar route.
The Finch East, Eglinton East, Finch West, York Mills, Jane, Lawrence, Don Mills, Dufferin, and Sheppard East busses all have more ridership than the 506, 512, or 505 - despite 2 of the latter 3 operating mostly in a downtown core where there is more density.
What is the improvement that will work to draw more people to VIVA? Short answer, not much.
Higher frequencies on most routes - BIG TIME.
If there isn't a demand for 5 minute frequency due to ridership, that would be a waste.
5 minute frequent busses have a similar capacity to 15 minute LRT service. If there isn't demand for busses, there isn't a demand for LRT. Period.
Define good transit. Do you really think London Transit or London city council can create a better bus system? What has stopped them up till now? It would be better if it is done right the first time. K/Wdid that. Ottawa and York Region didn't.
They could easily run more frequent busses to generate more ridership but they don't do that because they're stuck with the old "car-centric nobody wants to ride a bus" mentality. That doesn't make them right, that makes them ignorant.
I haven't said nowhere else has done BRTs. I will say that it does not seem that most systems remember the (R)apid part. Ottawa forgot that downtown.
LRT isn't more rapid than BRT. Period. LRT is just BRT but with more capacity.
 

kEiThZ

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What if Ottawa built this as an LRT when they acquired the ROWs Wouldn't their system be about the same as their Phase 2?

Nope.

They wouldn't have gotten the funding. When Ottawa first built the Transitway, its population was 40% smaller than today. Nobody was funding LRT for metros of less than 600k population back then, outside of oil rich Alberta. And Ottawa will have as much or more km of LRT as Calgary or Edmonton in 5 years, but with much higher quality corridors (more segregation and grade separation).

The high operating cost would have meant much more of the budget going to maintain the LRT network, limiting bus network expansion (something Ottawa is still very poor at) and in all likelihood substantially limiting LRT network growth too.

Ultimately, the numbers don't lie. There's no city of a similar size in the US, Canada or Australia with this kind of transit ridership. And every city that started out building LRT in these countries has less riders and a more expensive (to run) system.

Again:

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ARG1

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Nope.

They wouldn't have gotten the funding. When Ottawa first built the Transitway, its population was 40% smaller than today. Nobody was funding LRT for metros of less than 600k population back then, outside of oil rich Alberta. And Ottawa will have as much or km if LRT of Calgary or Edmonton in 5 years, but with much higher quality corridors (more segregation and grade separation).

The high operating cost would have meant much more of the budget going to maintain the LRT network, limiting bus network expansion (something Ottawa is still very poor at) and in all likelihood substantially limiting LRT network growth too.

Ultimately, the numbers don't lie. There's no city of a similar size in the US, Canada or Australia with this kind of transit ridership. And every city that started out building LRT in these countries has less riders and a more expensive (to run) system.

Again:

6a00d83454714d69e20134880d6158970c-800wi
Actually we can look at these systems and look at where their ridership is built from:

Canada:
Ottawa - Bus
Montreal - Metro, Busses
Toronto - Metro, Busses, and Streetcar
Sydney - Regional Rail and a few busses (only recently they started to build some LRTs and Metros)
Calgary - LRT
Vancouver - Metro and Busses
Winnipeg - Busses
Brisbane - Regional Rail and Busses (they're basically like if you took Ottawa, added even more busways, and added an electrifies regional rail on top of that
Melbourne - Trams and Regional Rail
Perth - Regional Rail
Victoria - Busses
Edmonton - LRT
Adelaide - Regional Rail and Guided Busways
San Francisco - Metro and Light Rail
Washington DC - Metro
Boston - Metro and LRT
Seattle - LRT
The remainding US cities: Mostly LRT

As we go down the chart with fewer ridership numbers, the number of LRT increases substantially.
Honestly, Calgary and Edmonton are weird as they are basically the exception when it comes to LRT - every city that builds LRT primarily usually has poor ridership except those 2. Every other city has a strong bus network, or a strong bus network combined with some form of high speed regional rail or metro.
 

kEiThZ

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So, the constant issues with their new operational system should be ignored too?

This has less to do with the strategy (BRT first, LRT later) than their mismanagement of the LRT procurement. Badly written contracts and incompetent oversight can lead to problems on any project. Indeed, if Ottawa, a city of a million people can screw it up this badly, just imagine what London, a city of 400k might face. I doubt LTC has as much transit planning and contracting expertise as OC Transpo.

My biggest concern is whether it will be done to true BRT standards or will it be just a reserved lane that is blocked by who knows what else that wish to park there.

The risk of incompetent execution of BRT is not justification for LRT. Indeed, the risk is probably compounding. Anybody who would deliver bad BRT, will probably deliver worse LRT at higher cost.
So, imagine 20-30 years from now that happening to Londonites. Why waste the money now?
As Ottawa shows, this is not a waste. Three decades is about the useful life of most infrastructure. So they'd be pushing through a possible conversion to rail just as major recapitalization is required.

And again, you are ignoring opportunity costs here. It's not an equivalent choice between BRT and LRT. Rail would probably cost 50% more at least. And in a city that think bus lanes are too expensive, the likely result would not be a 50% increase in the RT construction budget, but a 30% cut in the km built to stay in the same fiscal envelope. Would you want to be in a neighborhood that gets no rapid transit service for the next two decades so somebody else can get rail?
 

micheal_can

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Actually we can look at these systems and look at where their ridership is built from:

Canada:
Ottawa - Bus
Montreal - Metro, Busses
Toronto - Metro, Busses, and Streetcar
Sydney - Regional Rail and a few busses (only recently they started to build some LRTs and Metros)
Calgary - LRT
Vancouver - Metro and Busses
Winnipeg - Busses
Brisbane - Regional Rail and Busses (they're basically like if you took Ottawa, added even more busways, and added an electrifies regional rail on top of that
Melbourne - Trams and Regional Rail
Perth - Regional Rail
Victoria - Busses
Edmonton - LRT
Adelaide - Regional Rail and Guided Busways
San Francisco - Metro and Light Rail
Washington DC - Metro
Boston - Metro and LRT
Seattle - LRT
The remainding US cities: Mostly LRT

As we go down the chart with fewer ridership numbers, the number of LRT increases substantially.
Honestly, Calgary and Edmonton are weird as they are basically the exception when it comes to LRT - every city that builds LRT primarily usually has poor ridership except those 2. Every other city has a strong bus network, or a strong bus network combined with some form of high speed regional rail or metro.

Let's look at the just buses and see why they are so busy.

The only 2 are Winnipeg and Victoria.

Winnipeg is where New Flyer is based out of. I am thinking the city council is very open to showing how good the bus can be. I'll bet that Winnipeg gets to over 1 million residents before they think of doing an LRT.

Victoria has a horrible traffic problem and very few routes that it funnels through. Their buses get stuck in the same congestion, but it is better than driving as the price of gas is one of the highest in the country. $1.65/l is a good reason to park the car.

The rest alllllllll have LRT or other rail transit.
 

kEiThZ

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Honestly, Calgary and Edmonton are weird as they are basically the exception when it comes to LRT - every city that builds LRT primarily usually has poor ridership except those 2.

And those two still have lower modal share on transit than Ottawa (outside COVID). I expect London to fare similarly if they deploy LRT.

A lot of this is moot. London is too cheap to even do what Kingston did to their bus services. In what universe, then, does that mean, they will be willing to fund a large LRT network? If they build LRT instead of BRT, they will probably build one stubline in one direction, declare the budget empty and not build any more rapid transit for another two decades. BRT at least offers the opportunity for some incremental development and self-funding in lean times, as Ottawa has amply demonstrated.
 

micheal_can

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This has less to do with the strategy (BRT first, LRT later) than their mismanagement of the LRT procurement. Badly written contracts and incompetent oversight can lead to problems on any project. Indeed, if Ottawa, a city of a million people can screw it up this badly, just imagine what London, a city of 400k might face. I doubt LTC has as much transit planning and contracting expertise as OC Transpo.

So, we want to risk that in the future? If we are going to see bad procurement and failures to follow the contracts, I'd rather risk it once.

The risk of incompetent execution of BRT is not justification for LRT. Indeed, the risk is probably compounding. Anybody who would deliver bad BRT, will probably deliver worse LRT at higher cost.

As Ottawa shows, this is not a waste. Three decades is about the useful life of most infrastructure. So they'd be pushing through a possible conversion to rail just as major recapitalization is required.

And again, you are ignoring opportunity costs here. It's not an equivalent choice between BRT and LRT. Rail would probably cost 50% more at least. And in a city that think bus lanes are too expensive, the likely result would not be a 50% increase in the RT construction budget, but a 30% cut in the km built to stay in the same fiscal envelope. Would you want to be in a neighborhood that gets no rapid transit service for the next two decades so somebody else can get rail?

Line 1 in Toronto was built in 1954. That is almost 70 years ago. None of the original stations have been gutted/torn down and completely rebuilt. Short of elevators for accessibility, not much has been done to them.So, if the stations built on the London LRT were to last 50+years before needing to be completely rebuilt,that would be good. Remember, the Transitway stations are not being renovated, but completely torn down and built from scratch.
 

micheal_can

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And those two still have lower modal share on transit than Ottawa (outside COVID). I expect London to fare similarly if they deploy LRT.

A lot of this is moot. London is too cheap to even do what Kingston did to their bus services. In what universe, then, does that mean, they will be willing to fund a large LRT network? If they build LRT instead of BRT, they will probably build one stubline in one direction, declare the budget empty and not build any more rapid transit for another two decades. BRT at least offers the opportunity for some incremental development and self-funding in lean times, as Ottawa has amply demonstrated.
I agree with that. This is why not doing anything and cancelling the LRT is not the end of the world. AFAIK it seems the goal is not a BRT system, but a reserved lane downtown where all the buses funnel through.
 

kEiThZ

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Remember, the Transitway stations are not being renovated, but completely torn down and built from scratch.

Some. Go to Blair or Saint Laurent and you will see plenty leftover from the Transitway. The real value comes from the ROW being repurposed. Imagine what the Scott St trench would cost today.

Also, a lot of what is being torn down were relatively low cost glorified bus shelters. Getting 40 years out of them is pretty decent value for money.

You seem to be struggling here with the idea of time value of money. London building LRT now is like a 20 yr old going out and buying a minivan in anticipation of having a wife , two kids and two dogs when he's 35.
 

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