Originally Posted by Dado
Blimey, we might have something approaching a consensus around here!
I agree completely with the above - you're dead on that if Carling gets the LRT line first, rapid transit service north of it would never improve. But I think things could actually get worse, and not just for people in Westboro.
Given that the TMP calls for the western LRT to go to Lincoln Fields (by whichever route) and then on to Baseline - but not Bayshore - there is going to be a big transferring problem at Lincoln Fields. People from Barrhaven will get first dibs on the train at Baseline, while their compatriots from Kanata will always be faced with fullish trains at Lincoln Fields (barring some kind of short-ending operating scenario along with infrastructure at Lincoln Fields to support it, namely a third track). Given that there are in fact more riders from Kanata than Barrhaven, this is a recipe for a lot of anger (Baseline apparently gets the LRT rather than Bayshore because *all day* ridership is higher to Baseline due to Algonquin College, whereas peak ridership is higher to Bayshore).
Now, imagine if you will a Carling LRT line, leaving the West Transitway from Dominion onwards still in place. All these Kanatans will be arriving at Lincoln Fields by bus and will be required to transfer to LRT going down Carling, all the while that the West Transitway - which they had been using up to the very day that LRT opened on Carling - remains available for use. How long do you suppose it would be before Kanatans and their politicians start demanding that their express buses be allowed to continue on as before? How long do you suppose that OC Transpo and Council could resist the political pressure? Before long we'd be back to a variant on the high cost system we have right now: BRT & LRT doing the same thing. Plans to rework Albert and Slater would also have to be shelved and chances are that buses from the Southeast Transitway and the abortive Hospital Link (whose riders would be facing a similar albeit less serious problem at Hurdman to those from Kanata at Lincoln Fields) would be through-routed with buses from Kanata to help "balance" things out downtown.
On the other hand, if you block off the West Transitway to buses by converting it to LRT, you instantly create pressure to do the right thing and extend a second LRT branch to Bayshore or Moodie, and with much of DND moving to the Moodie area, there would also be additional reverse flow ridership to justify the extension.
I definitely agree that an extension to Bayshore on a secondary branch is necessary at that stage, for the reasons mentioned.
1) Bayshore is a high-density residential area with significant all-day ridership. Forcing a transfer for the short distance (or a slow ride on Route 2) would be of little benefit given the high ridership. While all-day ridership is higher at Baseline on weekdays, it certainly is not on weekends - and even at midday, ridership is high at both locations.
2) Transfer issues at Lincoln Fields would be a major headache, especially in the morning rush hour when crowded trains would already be a problem for commuters coming from Kanata or Stittsville and forced to transfer into already packed trains (not to mention those originating at Bayshore). By locating their transfer at Bayshore, it would put them onto previously empty trains to start their trips, balancing crowds better. The only issue is in the westbound direction where some passengers may accidentally take the wrong train, but clear signage should minimize such.
3) It avoids having to build a Transitway at all from Pinecrest to Lincoln Fields, and allows use of bus lanes on Highway 417 until a train-specific tunnel can be built, resulting in cost savings for a short-term conversion.
4) It simplifies operations for Kanata and Stittsville-bound routes and eliminates a transfer to Bayshore for most passengers, and reduces transfers to other destinations. At all times of the day, the vast majority of passengers there are not internal, but are headed for Bayshore or beyond (mostly downtown) - interestingly, such is especially true outside peak periods due to local high schools and the Kanata North Business Park being the main service nodes there (terminating ridership at Terry Fox Station is very low due to the fact it is very pedestrian and transit-unfriendly in the area). The vast majority of passengers on local routes in Kanata are transferring, mostly to the 96 but some also to the 118, in order to get to in-town destinations.
5) It is true that extending to Moodie would help for DND passengers. However, until significant residential development takes place there (unlikely anytime soon), it would be of little benefit as it forces a transfer one stop from Kanata to Bayshore and the internal ridership would be extremely low at many times of day, especially evenings and weekends. Given the number of movements in the area, a separate, frequent (during peak periods) bus route would be more suitable until the LRT is extended to Kanata (long term).
IMO, Carling should not get any rail in the foreseeable future, but rather get bus lane treatment (i.e. in the 6-lane sections, convert the curb lane to bus-only and transit priority signals, and in the 4-lane sections, widen with a new bus-only lane), similar to, say, Baseline Road.
Median rail lanes on a surface street create a huge mess like the one created in Toronto on St. Clair Avenue, which was never designed for such. There are higher priorities (i.e. Bank Street, Montreal Road) for rail-based solutions which are necessitated due to the lack of any other suitable alternatives.