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He Took the O-Train Going Anywhere

On Friday, I did something novel. I took public transit straight from a major airport to a city’s downtown. Taking advantage of Ottawa’s Rapid Transit Network, I had a simple, convenient, and enjoyable time getting to my destination.

I had to get from the Ottawa International Airport to central Ottawa, and my trip was very simple. From the terminal, I walked about 100 ft. to a bus stop, where the 97 arrived within a few minutes. I paid my $3 fare, got my transfer, and settled in. Once the bus arrived at the first station on its route, it started traveling on a dedicated busway. A stop later, I got off at the Greenboro station. I then walked up the stairwell and across the overpass to reach the O-Train platform. 5-10 minutes later, the train arrived. Greenboro is the end of the line, four stops later it reaches the Bayview station at the end of the line, not far from downtown. All told, it took roughly 25 minutes from the time my bus left the airport until I arrived at Bayview. Most of the time I might have saved by taking a cab – which might have been 10 minutes – was on account of having to wait about that long for the bus to arrive. However, the fact that I would have likely been billed at least $3 by the time the cab left the airport terminal, and a lot more by the end of my trip, makes taking public transit from the Ottawa airport an incredible deal.

I write about this because today, Edmonton’s City Council is conducting a public hearing on its LRT Network Plans. LRT to the Edmonton International Airport is unlikely to happen, due to the distance between the airport to the city, and the low-density development – where development does exist – along the route. What might make sense is a system like Ottawa’s. By this time next year, Edmonton’s LRT will reach Century Park at 111th St and 23rd Ave NW. Bus service connecting the airport to the LRT line and transit hub at that station could be established – the presence of a regional government structure should make this easier than it otherwise would be. Assuming a 15-20 minute bus ride to Century Park, public transit would be competitive time-wise with driving from the airport to central Edmonton. It would be a much more convenient and economical travel choice than the existing shuttle service – the alternative to taxi and car travel.

Edmonton’s transit system continues to take great strides forward. Bus service reaching the Edmonton International Airport would be yet another positive development.

The O-Train stops at the Bayview station. Above to the right, a bus traveling along a dedicated busway arrives at the adjacent transit centre.

The O-Train stops at the Bayview station. Above to the right, a bus traveling along a dedicated busway arrives at the adjacent transit centre.


Blogging Again

Written May 29, 2009, somewhere over the Canadian prairies.

I’ve decided to start blogging again. I made this decision over the Christmas holidays, but only now, five months later, 40,000 feet over the Canadian prairies, have I made the time for it.

This is my fourth attempt at blogging. The first lasted several months, and was a sporadic effort at best. The second remains by far the most successful. I posted fairly frequently for 12-18 months, and sporadically for a year afterward. The third can be seen when you scroll down on this blog. I posted on and off for 2 months last year; on the whole I count 3-4 substantive posts interspersed with links and baseball playoff predictions.

My challenge has always been making the time to think through and write out blog posts. It’s a symptom of my life right now. Like many, I am always lacking for time; ny days tend to fill up pretty easily and quickly. I still read about and follow issues, but I find myself missing the time to really contemplate them, and to subsequently express my thoughts.

It makes sense that I find myself writing when I’m on an airplane. For a change, there isn’t much going on, or much else to do. I didn’t bring any work with me; I’ve read all the documents I have for my conference this weekend. I’ve already been through the CTV News loop and The Score’s highlight reel, and I have no internet access. Surrounded only by strangers, smiling flight attendants, and the music of Joel Plaskett on my iPod, I have four hours to myself to think, reflect, and write.

My goals with this blog are simple:

•    To structure time for myself to think about the issues on my mind, and to express my thoughts through written form.
•    To focus on longer pieces. I may occasionally throw up a collection of links, but that’s primarily what I use Twitter for. It won’t be entirely a blog that keeps you up to speed on my life – that’s what I use Facebook for. And it won’t be a photo blog. I’m setting up a Flickr page for that.
•    To have something interesting to say. As much as this blog is about expressing my thoughts and ideas, I also want to create a dialogue with anyone who chooses to read it. Therefore, I want to write about things that readers will find thought provoking and interesting. I suspect anyone reading at this point knows me reasonably well; feel free to suggest a topic.

For the time being, I’m setting the goal of two substantive posts per week. They will most likely focus on politics, policy, sports, community, or culture, with some book/music reviews thrown in. I hope you enjoy it.