Report to/Rapport au :


Transit Committee

Comité du transport en commun


and Council / et au Conseil


20 October 2009 / le 20 octobre 2009


Submitted by/Soumis par : Nancy Schepers, Deputy City Manager/Directrice municipale adjointe,

Infrastructure Services and Community Sustainability/Services d 'infrastructure et Viabilité des collectivités


Contact Person/Personne ressource : Alain Mercier, General Manager/Directeur général, Transit Services/ Services de Transport en commun

613-842-3636 x2271,


City Wide/à l'échelle de la Ville

Ref N°: ACS2009-ICS-TRA-0017



Rail System Selection









That Transit Committee recommend that Council approve that the Rail technology for the City’s Rapid Transit Plan be Light Rail Transit (LRT).




Que le Comité du transport en commun recommande au Conseil d’approuver que la technologie ferroviaire pour le Plan de transport en commun rapide de la Ville soit celle du transport en commun par train léger sur rail (TLR).





The selection of the appropriate rail system technology for the City of Ottawa is a major component of the 2008 Transportation Master Plan (TMP) process.


To select the appropriate transit system for the City of Ottawa a set of principles that reflect the goals of the Council approved TMP were applied. The recommended rail system technology must:


·         Accommodate the predicted passenger volumes: Ensuring that operational efficiency and running costs are optimized.

·         Provide conditions to easily implement the first increment and all subsequent phases of the system.

·         Fit into Ottawa’s urban environment: Ensuring that the vehicle and system design support achieving the City’s urban and environmental vision.

·         Minimize capital costs: To ensure that stakeholders and citizens have a good return on investment.

·         Minimize the lifetime operating and maintenance costs while maximizing ridership: Ensuring low fares and taxes.

·         Be able to respond to future land use changes within the City: Providing flexibility of operations to accommodate future city planning and operational changes.

·         Take advantage of the most current proven technologies: Providing operational efficiencies and high reliability.

·         Be proven in service: Minimizing implementation risk and increasing operational reliability.

·         Be suitable for the climate in Ottawa: Ensuring that the vehicle can withstand the weather extremes in Ottawa. 


June Technology Forum

On June 19 and 20, 2009 the City hosted a LRT Technology Forum to discuss light rail transit technology options in the development of the new transit vision. The Forum brought together representatives of manufacturers and transit agencies from across North America to discuss various types of transit systems, best practices and lessons learned, with the objective of identifying optimal rail technology solutions for Ottawa. This event was attended by a number of City Councillors, senior City staff, and a number of key stakeholders from various federal, provincial and municipal agencies (NCC, Transport Canada, Infrastructure Ontario, Société de transport de l’Outaouais, etc)

This forum also gave an opportunity for the public to participate in mini-workshops to help define the goals and requirements of the system that helped form the principles necessary for successful rail technology selection.

The result of this technology forum was the identification of the two rail technology options appropriate for City of Ottawa for further consideration: Light Rail Transit (LRT) and a Light Metro technology.


To determine which rail technology will best serve the City’s future transportation needs the City commissioned Delcan to undertake a study to examine the rail technology options – LRT and Light Metro – and also to consider whether the systems should incorporate a driverless or driver-based operational control technology.




The Delcan rail technology study compares the two rail technology options based on a set of criteria that reflected the above noted principles. The following table summarizes the comparison of the technology options:




Light Metro


Manual Driver

Automated Driverless

Maximum passenger capacity in the core

>20,000 pphpd





Low passenger capacity in the extensions

>5,000 pphpd





Ability to build a non-segregated system in low-density areas






Comparative total system capital cost

All Phase 1 network, infrastructure and vehicle fleet





Comparative life time operating and maintenance costs

All Phase 1 network, infrastructure and vehicle fleet





Proven in service

At least 5 years in revenue service





Suitable for the climate in Ottawa

Operated in a climate similar to Ottawa












The study reveals that the implementation of a high capacity Light Metro style system could, as LRT is implemented in suburban areas, divide Ottawa’s transportation network which would result in a fragmented network. This dual mode network is not desirable given the overall associated costs.


The choice of a Light Metro system would effectively increase overall lifecycle costs due to the higher capital costs of segregation in the western corridor, which would offset any operational efficiencies.


In contrast, an LRT system permits a more efficient capacity match for the ridership prediction throughout the main core and outlying regions maximizing the overall flexibility in continuing to grow the system up to and beyond 2031.


The LRT system provides capacity in the downtown core, but will necessitate the use of automatic operation to maintain operational efficiency with higher ridership in later years.


The rail systems technology recommendation also reflects Council’s direction in approving the North-South LRT EA and the Riverside South Community Design Plan (CDP). These documents identified the technology selection for the future North South Corridor as LRT. The integration of this technology to the Tunney’s Pasture to Baseline corridor was an important consideration in the development of a technology recommendation.


In conclusion, Light Rail (LRT) is recommended as the preferred technology choice for deployment in Ottawa as it:





Public consultation on the design principles was sought as part of the June 2009 LRT Technology Forum. At the same forum, representatives of manufacturers and transit agencies from across North America were consulted. Tabling this report will provide an opportunity for the public to comment on the recommendation as part of the October 26, 2009, DOTT Open House and at the November 18, 2009, Transit Committee meeting.




There are no legal/risk management impediments to the tabling of this report at the Transit Committee meeting of October 21, 2009.




Once implemented, as shown in the Transit Services 10-Year Tactical Plan, the implementation of the rapid transit plan will realize $25 Million annual operational saving.


The rapid transit plan, in concert with future Council decisions, will combine to realize the $100 Million in annual operating savings identified in the Transit Services 10-Year Tactical Plan and the goal set out in the City’s fiscal framework of moving to a 55 per cent revenue/cost ratio.




Document 1    October 2009 Rail System Selection Study prepared by Delcan




With Council approval, staff will continue the development of the City’s Rapid Transit Plan with LRT as the technology for implementation.

[1] In order to meet the 2031 core capacity requirement, the vehicles associated with the LRT

system will require operation with less distance between them. This requires a modern Automatic Train Control (ATC) system based on a Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) system.