LRT construction needs to keep the positives in mind. Photo: Tristain Pollard.
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Park and ride facilities are a must for any new station

As construction continues on Ottawa’s new Light Rail Transit (LRT) system, it seems there are still a few kinks in the plan. The new Moodie LRT station has been the site of sustained debate, first over the lack of a park and ride facility and then over the location itself. In all of this debate, the key to success is remembering what the overall goal of the LRT is.

The major promise of the LRT is the rapid movement of people from the outskirts of Ottawa to the downtown core in a way that takes as many cars and buses as possible off the road. Not having a park and ride facility makes that difficult by adding extra steps before people can hop on the LRT.

All LRT stations should have a park and ride facility attached to them, and having the station on a regular bus route isn’t the same. The LRT system will only work if it is as easy as possible for people to use it, and it has to be designed so that it’s easier for people to get into the city using the LRT than by any other means. Making people wait for a bus in the middle of winter just so they can go wait for a train doesn’t do that, and instead makes the inside of a nice warm car seem like a preferable alternative, even if it will take hours and leave you stuck in traffic.

Some residents around the proposed Moodie LRT station want to see the location change as well, out of concerns for the local environment. While these environmental concerns are valid, moving the station to their proposed site will make for more difficult access, again disincentivizing people to make use of it.

In the long run the most environmentally sustainable option is to have efficient and effective mass transit that encourages residents of Ottawa to leave their cars at home. The City has already said that it plans on dismantling part of the platform when it will no longer be needed and allowing the site to revert back to greenspace.

Rapid mass transit is the future of Ottawa, a city notorious for its unreliable bus service. This LRT will bring people into downtown while also making it easier for people in downtown to get to other parts of the city, all of this while being better for the environment than the buses they would have used previously.

Debates around the LRT must always keep those positives in mind, while also ensuring they do whatever it takes to make it the most appealing option for the greatest number of people, and not building park and rides doesn’t make the system appealing.