Algonquin’s access to public transit is catching up with Ottawa’s other academic institutions, but not all students will benefit in the short term.
In July the City of Ottawa made its funding pitch for Stage 2 of the light rail transit plan, which aims to connect Baseline Station with the rest of the city by 2023.
The City of Ottawa chose the transitway tunnel under the Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence as the site of Mayor Jim Watson’s announcement.
This followed a March announcement that OC Transpo’s U-Pass will finally be offered to Algonquin students in 2015-2016.
Both developments are part of a wider initiative to bring the college into the larger sphere of public transit.
“Through the U-Pass program and investments like light rail transit, student transit will continue to improve in the years ahead,” Mayor Jim Watson said in a municipal press release.
But students are skeptical given the time it will take for these initiatives to be realized. Construction of Stage 2 of the LRT won’t begin until 2018. Most students will have completed their programs by then.
The U-Pass and the LRT expansion are closely linked, say students.
“The U-Pass has potential, but it won’t feel like a real asset until we get the LRT,” said Braden Foulkes, first-year radio broadcasting student.
According to the City of Ottawa, 16,000 eligible Algonquin students pay $192.70 per semester for the U-Pass.
“When I was an undergrad, I always used the O-Train,” said Marc Shaw, former Carleton student. “I would actually go out of my way to find an LRT station, because the commute was so efficient. I wish I had the option here at Algonquin.”
The current O-Train line, which opened in 2001, has 12,000 riders per day, with a total of 3 million passengers in 2014. Carleton students make up a significant portion of this ridership.
Progress is, however, being made with west end LRT development. On Sept. 21 a community meeting was held at Ben Franklin Place concerning a future maintenance and storage facility that will service Baseline station.
The new Confederation Line is expected to complete by 2018, with Stage 2 development beginning thereafter. It will eventually connect Algonquin to the other post-secondary schools in the city.