Empty park and ride dubbed useless $8M ‘cement playground’

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A multimillion-dollar park and ride in Ottawa that OC Transpo marketed as “good for patrons” in south Orléans has largely sat empty since opening three years in the past, and residents close by say it is a waste of their tax {dollars} and are nonetheless scratching their heads as to why it is even there.

“We all really feel the identical. It’s not getting used. It’s a waste,” mentioned resident Rylee Batista.

The Chapel Hill South park and ride sits at Navan Road and Brian Coburn Boulevard — a significant artery in south Orléans. It opened on Oct. 27, 2019, and value the town about $8.2 million.

The lot has 263 free parking areas and was slated to develop to 427, in accordance with OC Transpo’s web site.

But the cease providers solely two common bus routes — the 32 and 34 which run about each 25 minutes many of the day — and in accordance with OC Transpo, two different buses run on weekday mornings to excessive colleges close by.

This is the place Chapel Hill South park and ride is situated in Ottawa. (Leah Hansen/CBC)

An OC Transpo on-line pamphlet concerning the park and ride touts it as “good for patrons travelling from south Orléans and close by communities,” and tells clients to “park your automobile and let OC Transpo take you the remainder of the best way — 35 minutes to downtown!” 

But that is removed from actuality.

According to Google Map’s transit planner, it takes about an hour to journey through transit from the park and ride to CBC Ottawa’s downtown workplace throughout peak morning rush hour. Driving to the park and ride from a random residential handle within the close by Avalon neighbourhood, the full commute is about an hour and quarter-hour. 

But it takes about 53 minutes from that very same handle on to CBC Ottawa by transit.

A sign reads Park & Ride, Chapel Hill. An empty cement lot with two cars in the distance.
An empty Chapel Hill South park and ride on a weekday afternoon in September 2022. (Reno Patry/CBC)

CBC has visited the park and ride 3 times between September and October for two-hour intervals, twice throughout rush hour. At most, it noticed 5 vehicles parked there, and typically none.

On every event, CBC noticed one transit rider getting off the bus and driving away of their automobile; a number of non-transit customers — like a skateboarder and canine walkers — parked there for leisure functions.

But the town maintains the placement “is strategic.”

Stanimir Cvetanov runs by the park and ride nearly every day. The resident of Chapel Hill South mentioned he was so baffled by the vacancy, he wrote a one-star Google evaluation.

“Textbook instance of losing tax payers’ cash. Barely anybody used it even earlier than the pandemic,” his evaluation reads.

Cvetanov informed CBC that as a transit rider pre-COVID, he was “initially excited” for the park and ride considering extra specific buses would run from it.

That enthusiasm was short-lived.

“That bought me upset, like, you constructed one thing so big for simply two bus traces?” mentioned Cvetanov.

A screenshot of several cheeky comments from frustrated residents on Facebook. One of them reads, 'Maybe there's another shoe to drop, but as of now, this has zero logic.'
Posts on social media concerning the park and ride present cheeky feedback relationship again two years utilizing phrases like ‘large incompetence’ and ‘big fail’ to explain the town’s determination to construct it. This is a snapshot of some feedback on OC Transpo’s Facebook web page. (OC Transpo/Facebook)

Concerns about racing, clearing forest

Batista, president of the Chapel Hill South Community Association, mentioned the lot was primarily used as an “$8 million cement playground” in the course of the pandemic.

“We’ve come right here with our Rollerblades to play hockey,” she mentioned. 

Batista has seen youngsters on bikes, motorized toy vehicles and skate boarders use the house.

WATCH | ‘No purpose’ anybody in Chapel Hill would use park and ride, says affiliation: 

Resident says Orléans park and ride sits principally empty as bus routes stay restricted

Rylee Batista, president of the Chapel Hill South Community Association, says it’s irritating that there haven’t been extra bus routes added to attach the Chapel Hill South Park and Ride with the LRT.

At evening, although, it was used as a automobile drifting and racing spot, so barricades have been put in to attempt to stop that, she mentioned.

“You can hear them spinning out or drifting,” recalled Batista, pointing to the fencing. “That’s what this has accomplished — it has minimize down that noise.”

A car is parked on an empty parking lot.
A automobile parked at Chapel Hill South park and ride in Orléans in September. This automobile was considered one of three parked on the lot on the time. (Reno Patry/CBC)

The park and ride additionally changed a forest, she mentioned, inflicting some residents to fret concerning the affect it might need on the inexperienced house and ravine close by.

Batista mentioned she’s spoken to councillors about its future, and different points with transportation in south Orléans.

“We’re not effectively serviced,” she mentioned. “But the place’s the following step? Where’s Plan B? There would not appear to be [one].”

A yellow sign posted on a metal gate in an empty cement lot reads 'Spaces temporarily closed while use of the Park & Ride is low.'
Several of those yellow notices are posted on the barricade blocking a majority of parking spots on the park and ride. It reads: ‘Spaces quickly closed whereas use of the Park & Ride is low.’ (Reno Patry/CBC)

‘Cart earlier than the horse’ state of affairs: resident

Heather Buchanan, a resident of the close by Bradley Estates neighbourhood, calls the park and ride a “glorified transit cease.”

Buchanan sits on the event committee for her group affiliation and defined that the lot was inbuilt anticipation of a future Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) hall — bus-only roadways — within the space, a undertaking which has not materialized for the reason that Nineties.

Most just lately this March after years of research, planning and consultations, metropolis council voted to maneuver forward with one of many handful of short-listed choices — Option 7 — to increase Brian Coburn Boulevard, and to create a Cumberland Transitway via the Greenbelt which might hyperlink the park and ride to Blair Road.

But the town hasn’t put aside cash for its $300-million projected value, and it is operating into points with NCC which owns the Greenbelt however refuses to launch it. Some paperwork forecast it might not occur till effectively previous 2030.

“We have been all fairly enraged that we have been going to have this ‘cart earlier than the horse’ parking zone,” she mentioned. “This is all predicated on a BRT … that doesn’t exist.”

WATCH | Buchanan explains why park and ride would not make sense proper now: 

Underused Orléans park and ride a case of placing ‘the cart before the horse,’ resident says

Resident Heather Buchanan says the Chapel Hill South Park and Ride was meant to serve a bus fast transit system that doesn’t presently exist.

If the town needs south Orléans residents to make use of the park and ride now, she mentioned it must first enhance the roads that get them there. 

Buchanan mentioned the cash would have been higher spent constructing a bigger park and ride at Blair LRT Station, which presently has solely 21 areas for allow holders.

A map shows a future proposed Bus Rapid Transit route.
A screenshot of a City of Ottawa presentation on the Brian Coburn Extension/Cumberland Transitway environmental evaluation research. This really useful design exhibits a proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) subsequent to the Chapel Hill South park and ride. (City of Ottawa)

“That park and ride is principally a white elephant,” mentioned Rachelle Lecours, president of the Greater Avalon Community Association, which represents communities east of the lot. 

“People are upset as a result of that cash might have gone to supply higher … bus service.”

  • Do you might have a narrative to share from Orléans? Email priscilla.hwang@cbc.ca

Lecours mentioned the 2 buses that run via it do “milk runs” in close by communities, so it is simpler for residents to hop on the bus close to their properties anyway.

As an interim resolution whereas ready for the long run BRT, she suggests implementing specific buses taking folks immediately from the park and ride to downtown or LRT stations — both Blair or Cyrville station, which isn’t as busy.

A person gets on a red bus at a station.
An individual will get on an OC Transpo bus on the park and ride in September 2022. The transit rider informed CBC they stroll over from their dwelling close by to make use of the bus station, however have by no means used it as a park and ride. (Reno Patry/CBC)

City says location ‘strategic’

CBC requested the town for an interview with OC Transpo, however it mentioned nobody is accessible.

Instead, it supplied an emailed assertion from its transportation planning director who mentioned the placement “is strategic,” primarily based on the long run BRT and inhabitants progress in southeast Orléans. 

Vivi Chi wrote the fast transitway undertaking is focused to open put up 2031.

Meanwhile, a press release attributed to Pat Scrimgeour, director of buyer techniques and planning, blames the pandemic, citing utilization “has nonetheless not but reached ranges seen earlier than the pandemic.” Several residents have informed CBC the park and ride was underutilized within the 5 months it was open previous to the pandemic.

“Staff will proceed to watch utilization, acquire suggestions, and make changes,” Scrimgeour wrote.

He mentioned the town would not hold monitor of how a lot it spends on upkeep of that park and ride.

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