By Mike Foster
Ongoing construction to build the Light Rail Transit (LRT) system by 2018 means that the University of Ottawa will be enduring some medium-term pain for long-term gain.
The good news is that when the LRT is up-and-running in May 2018, the University be connected to the east and west ends of the city by high-speed transit, with two stops on the Confederation Line: at uOttawa (Campus) Station and Lees Station.
The downside is that some uOttawa students could see their bus travel times increase by up to four minutes, and could have further to walk to get to class.
Some 60% of University of Ottawa students rely on public transportation, and they are being advised to plan ahead if they are travelling to the main campus once the Transitway bus lane shuts down between Laurier Avenue and Lees Station on April 24, 2016.
Daniel Spence, uOttawa’s sustainable transportation manager, said a golden rule for uOttawa’s students will be to use the OC Transpo travel planner to plan their trips because regular routes, stop locations and timetables are likely to change. From mid-March on, students will be able to enter their start-points and end-points, along with the time and date of travel, to see the quickest way to get to classes on campus.
In the meantime, Facilities will be posting regular updates on its website, which currently includes the following key points:
- Campus Station will be closed from April 24, 2016 to spring 2018
- Students on buses will be able to access the main campus at Laurier Station, and at King Edward Avenue and Templeton Street
- Most buses travelling between Laurier Avenue and Lees Station will use Nicholas Street instead of the Transitway, and this could mean longer bus rides than normal, depending on traffic conditions
- Afternoon trips on west-end express routes will start at the Mackenzie King Station (Rideau Centre)
- Bus routes 95 and 98 will use King Edward Avenue to get to Lees Station
Spence said the University has been holding monthly meetings with various representatives from the rail line implementation office, which includes City of Ottawa officials and the Rideau Transit Group construction group. He said the university had raised major concerns about the changes coming before the end of exams on April 27, 2016, and that the City is working with the University to mitigate the impact of these changes on students.
So far, the University has had a “very collaborative, positive working relationship” with the City of Ottawa and OC Transpo, he said.
“OC Transpo considers students as important clients and they have been very proactive in responding when the University has raised concerns,” said Spence.