So, last night I dropped by one of the City of Ottawa's East-West LRT openhouses, and wow, was I ever not impressed.
From what I saw:
the east-west LRT will be built too far south to be useful to existing populations. The answer from the Delcan representative says that the plan is to plan for the city's future expansion. Sure, this would be a great idea... if the city were willing to plan expansion around it. However, the official plan has been tweaked and amended to developers' whims so much that this won't happen.
The LRT won't be much faster than existing Transitway commutes, and may even be slower if the chosen route ends up sharing roadway right-of-way, since buses/trains will need to contend with existing traffic.
Connection with other, existing transit seems to be considered an externality. When asked, the Delcan rep I spoke with admitted that the rough placement of the LRT was chosen first, without regard to existing or future transit ridership or ease of connecting to existing infrastructure, because of the availability of land (primarily rail ROW and hydro corridors). Then, after the final route is chosen, only then will connections with existing and future neighbourhoods be planned. This seems completely backwards to me -- it's building a train to nowhere because that's where the land is, rather than building a train that can be used. And considering it as a separate entity unto itself rather than an integrated part of the transit infrastructure seems to be a huge mistake.
Further to that point, the integration with existing transit will be limited to adjusting existing to routes connect with the LRT, rather than reworking the routes in those areas of the city. This seems to be a huge oversight.
The system may or may not actually be rail. Hybrid and biofuel buses are also being considered. If so... why not just extend the transitway instead of building a new system?
So, basically, it appears that this will be a train to nowhere, planned for future development that because of the city's failure to stick to the official plan's zoning, won't actually take place where it's expected by the LRT planners. Even when built, the train won't be a fully integrated part of the transit infrastructure for years and years, because it will just be tacked on the back end of existing routes that weren't designed to feed it.
I need to do a bit more research on this and compose my thoughts for a nice letter to my councillor, the mayor, and the up-and-coming candidates in this election -- I can't see how it makes sense to spend money on this project as it's currently designed.