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The station on campus is between Vanier Hall and Gendron Hall. Photo: Rame Abdulkader/Fulcrum

Confederation Line now open, with a station on U of O campus

Ottawa’s largest transportation project since the Rideau Canal is finally complete. After six years of construction and four major delays, the Confederation Line is “Ready for Rail.” Commuters can now get from Tunney’s Pasture to Blair in under 25 minutes. Families, students, and seniors filled the trains on Saturday afternoon to try out the final product themselves. 

“I was eagerly anticipating this day, it’s been a year that it’s been delayed but I’m glad it’s running well,” said Daniel Nikoula at the LRT’s University of Ottawa Station.“This makes my commute faster … and I won’t have to experience that -30 C weather.”

The Confederation Line’s grand opening was not your typical Saturday commute. As steady crowds boarded the trains leaving Tunney’s Pasture to be part of Ottawa’s history, a sense of enthusiasm and anticipation filled the air. It seemed like all anyone talked about was the new O-Train. 

Live music, cheerful voices, and screeching trains filled Tunney’s Pasture station as OC Transpo staff guided commuters to the platform for the momentous first ride. Pulling into the station and taking off, the double-car white and red trains fit perfectly into the station’s design. 

Boarding the first train felt like stepping onto a spaceship in your backyard. The entire experience was foreign, in Ottawa anyway. Though the trains resemble subways in other cities, comfort, cleanliness, and speed exceeded commuters’ expectations. Some described the ride as “smooth, fast, and comfortable.”  

The majority of the Confederation Line is above-ground, providing views of the capital. But from Lyon Station to Rideau Station it passes underground through a spacious and well-lit tunnel.

The trains were full of people, but the capacity was nowhere near maximum. 

“Monday will be our big day,” said Kanata South Counc. Allan Hubley, who is also chair of the transit commission.

As everyone heads to work or school on Monday morning, the trains will truly be put to the test. In the coming weeks, commuters will have to board Line 1 instead of taking busses directly downtown. 

Schedule changes won’t be initiated until Oct. 6, however, so there’s lots of time to adjust. Bussing will be centred around Tunney’s Pasture, Hurdman, and Blair stations as connections to the Confederation Line. In total, 86 bus routes will be changed. Major routes like the 94 and 95 won’t pass through downtown anymore. 

“It goes faster than the bus and it avoids a lot of traffic,” said Hazem Hamdo from inside an LRT car. 

The University of Ottawa Station is located between Vanier Hall and Gendron Hall, and is a five-minute walk to Morisset Library and the Minto Sports Complex. 

Amelia Thompson, a first-year student at the U of O, said the station gave off “Toronto vibes.”

“Going to work takes about 10 or 20 minutes less now,” Thompson added.

Saturday’s grand opening only represents the completion of Stage 1 in a series of changes to Ottawa’s infrastructure. After Stage 2 is complete, the Confederation Line will run from Baseline to Trim.  

The Confederation Line is scheduled to run Monday to Thursday from 5–1 a.m., Friday 5–2 a.m., Saturday 6–2 a.m. and Sundays and holidays 8 a.m.–11 p.m. OC Transpo says during peak hours trains will arrive every five minutes or less and every 15 minutes after midnight.

The modern atmosphere, from the open-concept glass interior to the shiny white and red train, brings a renewed sense of inspiration to downtown Ottawa. It seems to say, “Ottawa isn’t the smallest capital in the world after all…”