BRTs: Is Ottawa ahead of the curve?

With Ottawa’s LRT project still years away from completion, and often used as an example of how far behind Ottawa is when it comes to major urban infrastructure, a recent story in The Atlantic Cities suggests that while this may be true for light rail, Ottawa may, in fact, have been ahead of the curve when it comes to Bus-Rapid Transit (BRT). Known in Ottawa as the Transitway, this bus-only corridor provides mainly uninterrupted travel for many public transit users on a large number of the major bus routes throughout Ottawa.

According to OC Transpo, “Many other bus routes use parts of the Transitway or connect to a Transitway Station which are convenient transfer points and often located next to a major shopping centre or employment area. The Transitway also connects with the O-Train at Bayview and Greenboro Stations. Most rush hour routes use the Transitway to downtown in the morning and from downtown in the afternoon. Other rush hour routes operate on the Transitway to employment centres outside the downtown core, such as business parks in urban areas.”

The Transitway has also been an important part of OC Transpo advertising campaigns, with images often showing a bus speeding down an empty, dedicated, bus lane next to a highway of stopped cars. This image, and the Transitway’s ability to move more people further, and faster, than is possible if each rider used his or her own car, helps to visually explain the benefits of both public transit, as well as the importance of having BRTs.

So while we may be behind when it comes to LRTs, Ottawa can at least feel some pride in it is Transitway.

Image: Tsaiproject, via Flickr



  1. Does it need pointing out that the reason we’re “behind when it comes to LRT” is *because* we built the BRT Transitway rather than LRT in the 1980s?

  2. This is very very very old news. Like decades.

  3. Great reminder that we do have a great system in place already! I used to work in Albany New York during the late nineties – early 2000’s and yes, many cities were looking to Ottawa as a great model for BRT then! BRT was a great option for many cash strapped cities who couldn’t afford LRT at the time.

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