My Master's Degree Project: Ottawa's Transitway: From Busway to Light Rail (2008)


Ottawa's Transitway is a well-known implementation of bus rapid transit (BRT). Its main feature is the use of busways or bus-only roadways that separate buses from all other traffic, often by grade separation, to allow buses to maintain reliable rapid transit service. The busways were originally conceived of as technology-neutral transitways and were designed to allow conversion to a rail-based technology should the need arise.

In recent years, the downtown portion of Ottawa's rapid transit system has become congested due to capacity constraints at stations arising from the throughput of upwards of 180 buses per hour in the peak hour, or one bus every 20 seconds. With dwell times exceeding this, the result is the long queues of buses frequently seen in downtown Ottawa.

Establishing a light rail line through downtown Ottawa would address the capacity issue, lower operating costs and improve the local environment. Converting the Transitway outside downtown Ottawa would avoid the need for large bus-rail transfer terminals and further lower operating costs.

While convertibility to rail has been designed into Ottawa's transitways, no consideration was given to undertaking it without shutting down rapid transit service. This Master's Degree Project proposes a solution to the conversion problem by employing the use of interim single track rail infrastructure during conversion.

Key Words: Ottawa, Transitway, Busway, Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, Light Rail, LRT, Conversion, Rapid Transit, Transportation Infrastructure.

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