STO tramway project receives favourable reviews from Ottawa
The Société de Transport de l’Outaouais (STO) unveiled results from a public consultation for its $2 billion tramway project to Gatineau and Ottawa residents last week, which showed that locals are largely ready for the project. Hoping to give people a chance to comment on the STO’s two proposed options to connect Gatineau’s future tramway with downtown Ottawa, the consultation saw 1,503 respondents between June 22 and July 19.
The connection options proposed by STO include an above-ground station on Wellington Street and an underground tunnel on Sparks Street. According to a press release issued by the STO on August 27, six out of 10 respondents – 56% of Gatineau participants and 67% of Ottawa participants – are in favour of running the tramway under Sparks Street. It added that half of the respondents believe integrating a tramway on Wellington Street can be done without compromising the area’s heritage value.
Most participants – 89% of Gatineau participants and 78% of Ottawa participants – noted that not all STO buses should be removed from downtown Ottawa with the implementation of a tramway. With 60% of participants from Gatineau, 38% from Ottawa, and 2% from surrounding municipalities, STO noted that approximately 85% of respondents believe adequately connecting both downtown transit systems is important.
Among people’s most important factors regarding the integration of the tramway and the O-Train, 84% of respondents valued its overall performance (commercial speed, reliability, and durability), 67% picked quality pedestrian environment and 65% promoted the importance of limiting transfer numbers. More information regarding the consultation’s findings is available on STO’s website. STO’s President and Pointe-Gatineau district councillor Myriam Nadeau was very encouraged by the consultation’s findings, stating that it showed the highest rate of agreement between both cities so far and that it provided an outline for residents’ priorities regarding the project. “Essentially, the idea is to get customers as close as possible to their destination to avoid the need for more transfers or a significant increase in the distance they have to walk,” Nadeau said. “For example, getting customers beyond the Lyon Street Station would encourage the use of public transit.”
Despite initially not being in favour of the project, Lucerne councillor Gilles Chagnon told the Aylmer Bulletin that he was optimistic about it following STO’s recent presentation. With a current lack of infrastructure to accommodate Gatineau and Ottawa’s commuters, Chagnon believes connecting the tramway with the O-Train is necessary and should have positive environmental impacts as well. “It responds to crying needs,” Chagnon said.
Deschênes councillor Mike Duggan – who has been very critical of the project and is still against implementing a tramway along chemin d’Aylmer – said the STO looks like it’s finally on the right track towards connecting the system with Ottawa. “They’ve elaborated the idea,” Duggan said. “It’s more complete with options and some of those options are reasonable and that’s going to attract national [funding] if it goes through.”
Going into the next phase of the study, the STO said it will take the consultation’s findings into consideration, noting that they were recently presented to Gatineau’s municipal council and Ottawa’s Transportation Committee.