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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

VIDEO: Scott Street bus corridor


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With this week’s serious collision on the transitway still fresh in commuters’ memories, it was interesting to read OC Transpo chief Alain Mercier’s memo to the Transit Commision concerning the Tuesday afternoon accident.

Mercier rightly points out that with 60 million kimometers driven annually by OC drivers, such incidents are still very rare. That’s quite true, and something else that was very rare was the sight of an endless stream of articulated buses crawling west on Scott Street through Mechanicsville, Hintonburg, and all the way to Westboro.

The diverted buses are mentioned in Mercier’s memo as “detoured” but according the Hintonburg Community Association’s Jeff Leiper, the sight of them may well have been a preview of what Scott Street will look when a more long-lasting diversion is put in place.

That’s because Scott is the City’s preferred route for diverted Transitway buses, from Tunney’s Pasture eastwards, during the LRT construction scheduled to begin in 2013 — and lasting for four years.

What will those four years look like? Well, Leiper says that unless the City can be convinced to move some of the volume to Carling or the Parkway, Scott Street may look a lot like the 3 minutes of video above, captured by him on Tuesday night.

It will be interesting to see what measures the city takes to deal with automobile traffic along Scott for the duration; at about the 2:25 point there is a perfect illustration of how cars do not mix well with heavy bus volume. One prediction could be that unless automobile traffic is diverted away from Scott, rush-hour bus collisions won’t be such a rarity anymore – at least for the duration of the LRT build-out.



  1. The detour situation should be rather different from a planned diversion of buses onto Scott/Albert, in a number of ways:
    1. the long line up shown is largely due to the inadequate loading platform at Tunneys,when one bus stops it blocks all others. This would not be the case during the 2014-17 period, as there would be a large transfer station already built north of the Tunney’s station. 2) the city will eventually get rid of the express buses in favour hub and spoke, so there will be more 95’s and many fewer single express buses, which will also speed up traffic
    3) expect to see many more bus routes start and end at Tunney’s, 4) the city plans to widen Albert from Bayview to Empress to six lanes for the transition period, then supposedly reducing it again to four lanes, converting the outer lanes into a boulevard and segregated bike lanes. I fully expect that to also be in place west of Bayview, ie to Tunney’s or maybe even Westboro Station. Nonetheless the pic of buses lined up will make an excellent scare tactic / bargaining point when details about the diversion period start to come out in the fourth quarter of 2014.

  2. It doesn’t need to be like this.

    The issue of how to convert the Transitway to light rail without recourse to diverting buses to parallel surface streets has been solved. It is all laid out in my 2008 University of Calgary Master’s Degree Project in Planning, titled “Ottawa’s Transitway: From Busway to Light Rail”. That project happened to have won an award for the best master’s degree project from a student attending a planning program in a university in Alberta.

    Oddly though, there has been no interest from the powers-that-be at the City of Ottawa.

  3. @David James: Where can this project be found?

  4. @FQ:

    It used to be hosted on my homepage at the University of Calgary, but unfortunately that page was disbanded late last year since I am no longer a student.

    I have found a final draft version (September 2008) on a few document websites, but not the final version (November 2008).

  5. The final version is supposed to be in the University of Calgary library as well as the Library of Canada (since you probably signed something giving Her Majesty the Queen in right of the National Librarian the nonexclusive right to reproduce your thesis). However, I can’t figure out how to get it from them. The U of C search page doesn’t seem very good.

    FQ, if you have a university affiliation, it may be possible to inter-library loan the thesis (but not if it’s categorized as ‘rare books’ by U of C).

    Another alternative is to try the Web Archive, which may have David James’s now-defunct page. I don’t know the address, so it’s hard for me to search that.