Watching the city grow: First day riders happy to see long-awaited LRT launch – OttawaMatters.com

\Watching the city grow:\ First day riders happy to see long-awaited LRT launch - OttawaMatters.com
LRT up and running in Ottawa
People attending the official opening of the LRT Saturday morning at Tunney’s Pasture were greeted with images of streetcars rolling through the city’s streets more than half a century ago, a reminder that this was not Ottawa’s first ride on the rails.

Trams, first pulled by horses and later electric streetcars — as well as trains — moved people around the streets of Ottawa and beyond for decades until the popularity of automobiles bumped Ottawa’s streetcars into the history books in the late 1950s. The first streetcars began in Ottawa in 1870.

Before the public began pouring through the gates, however, Mayor Jim Watson was joined by representatives from the provincial and federal governments, as well as current — and former — members of council at Tunney's Pasture station for the official launch.

Confederation Line testimonies: Day 1 LRT riders hopes and reviews

The trams that took Ottawa residents to places of work and leisure, including Britannia Beach for swimming and picnics, were made in Ottawa and sold across the country. The fleet was eventually decommissioned in 1959.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

First riders use Ottawas new LRT system

In 2017, as a Canada 150 project, a group of local enthusiasts restored a rusted, century old streetcar.

"I know that it hasn't always been easy for our residents during this construction period, and I want to take this opportunity to thank the people of Ottawa for your patience and understanding."

Many Ottawa residents still remember life with streetcars, but it would be years of debate and discussion before a working plan to build a new rail-based transit system was in place.

"Some of the issues experienced today may be attributed to customers jumping or bouncing on them, as they are excited to ride the [Confederation Line] for the first time," Charter said in an email.

OC Transpo’s Transitway, a rapid transit network that separated some buses from regular traffic, began in 1983. But, as the city grew, the crowding of buses downtown during rush hour, especially, became increasingly unworkable.

Ottawa’s new 12.5-kilometre LRT includes a 2.5-kilometre tunnel under downtown Ottawa, the most difficult and costly section of the light rail system.

"I have to try it out. I'm going to go sit at every station and check out the artwork — I've heard a lot about the artwork. I'm just really excited now," Param said.

That tunnel has opened after more than a century of proposals to move traffic in a subway under the city, beginning in 1915 with a report to Parliament from the Holt Commission that recommended streetcars be placed in a subway between Bronson and Rideau streets. The report, which was never implemented, noted the severe congestion of Sparks Street and arteries leading up to it, including Bank and Elgin streets.

"Ottawa residents deserve a world-class transportation system that gets both them and the economy moving," she said. "Today, that's exactly what they are getting."

A photo taken during the LRT construction process shows trackwork in the tunnel between Parliament and Rideau station. City of Ottawa

When serious planning began about an east-west LRT line in 2008, a 3.2-kilometre tunnel with four underground LRT stations was initially proposed. Plans were eventually agreed on for a 2.5-kilometre tunnel from just before Bronson Avenue to the University of Ottawa.

"It's really nice! The inside has this new train smell," said Enyonam Donkor, who'd successfully planned to be on board for the inaugural trip down the line.

The LRT is more than a tunnel, however. Its construction, marked by a sinkhole on Rideau Street and 16 months of delay, represents one of the biggest city-building project in the capital’s history and marks a return to the city’s roots at a time when Ottawa’s population has surpassed one million people.

Passengers use the Lyon Station gateways as the LRT officially opens on September 14, 2019 complete with ceremonies at Tunney's Pasture. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia   Wayne Cuddington /jpg

A man boards the train with his bike at the Pimisi Station as the LRT officially opens on September 14, 2019 complete with ceremonies at Tunney's Pasture. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia   Wayne Cuddington /jpg

Passengers ride the train as the LRT officially opens on September 14, 2019 complete with ceremonies at Tunney's Pasture. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia   Wayne Cuddington /jpg

Ashwath Param said he'd been waiting anxiously for the opening of LRT, as it would slash his hour-long commute to the University of Ottawa by 15 minutes.

A train pulls into the Lyon Station as the LRT officially opens on September 14, 2019 complete with ceremonies at Tunney's Pasture. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia   Wayne Cuddington /jpg

It is a priority for CBC to create a website that is accessible to all Canadians including people with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive challenges.

A woman looks out the window as the train pulls into the Lyon Station as the LRT officially opens on September 14, 2019 complete with ceremonies at Tunney's Pasture. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia   Wayne Cuddington /jpg

"The future of transit in Ottawa starts now," Watson said. "Today really is the result of years of planning and extremely hard work.

Performer known as Lucky Ron belts out a tune in the Lyon Station as the LRT officially opens on September 14, 2019 complete with ceremonies at Tunney's Pasture. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia   Wayne Cuddington /jpg

Jim Watson meets Tay Reeves,8, who wore a conductors cap to the ceremonies this am at Tunney's Pasture LRT Station.   Wayne Cuddington /Postmedia

“I just kind of wanted to see how it would work out for downtown, especially since my parents live on the east end, it might make it easier for me to get to them – if anything, maybe faster hopefully. But I do look forward for Stage 2 because we did get the notice about how it’s going to go to Moodie and that might be very helpful for me to get to work.”

Former Mayor Larry O'Brien (L) and Councillor Eli El-Chantiry catch up as the LRT officially opens with ceremonies at Tunney's Pasture.   Wayne Cuddington /jpg

Sally Plant: It’s been good. You know like I said there’s there’s been some changes made and I think the signage maybe could be … more accessible with larger print. The Braille needs a little work on the signage, but it’s nice that they’re putting Braille. So it’s a step in the right direction.”

Passengers walk under a colourful ceiling as they head for a train at the Parliament Station as the LRT officially opens on September 14, 2019 complete with ceremonies at Tunney's Pasture. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia   Wayne Cuddington /jpg

Future customers wait outside the Tunney's station as the LRT officially opens with ceremonies at Tunney's Pasture. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia   Wayne Cuddington /jpg

Caroline Mulroney, Ontario Minister of Transportation and Mayor Jim Watson unveil the official plaque as the LRT officially opens with ceremonies at Tunney's Pasture. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia   Wayne Cuddington /jpg

James Casselman: My main concern is, is it better than the original system? Because if it’s not, then what’s the point. Isn’t it two-billion dollars that was spent on this? If it’s not faster, it’s a complete waste.”

A phone booth in the Lyon Station as the LRT officially opens on September 14, 2019 complete with ceremonies at Tunney's Pasture. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia   Wayne Cuddington /jpg

Sherley Bien-Aimé: “I’ve been riding public transit my whole life, so I kind of wanted to see if this would compare to other cities like Toronto and Montreal. But so far it looks really nice and kind of cool, and kind of what I expected.

A train pulls into the Pimisi Station as the LRT officially opens on September 14, 2019 complete with ceremonies at Tunney's Pasture. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia   Wayne Cuddington /jpg

Ottawa's new LRT system was up and running for the public for the first time in Ottawa Saturday Sept 14, 2019. Waiting for a train at Tremblay Station Saturday. Tony Caldwell,   Tony Caldwell /Postmedia

Graham Thomas (left) and his family boarded the new Confederation Line at Bayview Station, rode it to Blair and hopped off at Rideau Station downtown. “It was easy at Bayview to get in with the stroller,” he said.

Ottawa's new LRT system was up and running for the public for the first time in Ottawa Saturday Sept 14, 2019. Waiting for a train at St. Laurent Station Saturday. Tony Caldwell,   Tony Caldwell /Postmedia

Ottawa's new LRT system was up and running for the public for the first time in Ottawa Saturday Sept 14, 2019. Hundreds of people waiting to get onto the new LRT at Blair Station Saturday. Tony Caldwell,   Tony Caldwell /Postmedia

“I could hear the announcements wonderfully in both languages. On the buses … if the bus is too loud, you can’t hear and then you have to ask the person beside you but this one, it was perfect.”

Ottawa's new LRT system was up and running for the public for the first time in Ottawa Saturday Sept 14, 2019. Waiting for a train at St. Laurent Station Saturday. Tony Caldwell,   Tony Caldwell /Postmedia

Ottawa's new LRT system was up and running for the public for the first time in Ottawa Saturday Sept 14, 2019. A train arrives at Cyrville Station Saturday. Tony Caldwell,   Tony Caldwell /Postmedia

Ottawa's new LRT system was up and running for the public for the first time in Ottawa Saturday Sept 14, 2019. Hundreds of people waiting to get onto the new LRT at Blair Station Saturday. Tony Caldwell,   Tony Caldwell /Postmedia

Ottawa's new LRT system was up and running for the public for the first time in Ottawa Saturday Sept 14, 2019. People waiting to get on the new LRT at Blair Station Saturday. Tony Caldwell,   Tony Caldwell /Postmedia

George Thorne, who lives in the Civic hospital area, said his experience getting a ticket for the LRT was “smooth” and the fare machines were “pretty self-explanatory.”

Ottawa's new LRT system was up and running for the public for the first time in Ottawa Saturday Sept 14, 2019. A train comes into Blair Station Saturday. Tony Caldwell,   Tony Caldwell /Postmedia

Barrhaven resident Dee Dava (centre) rode Ottawa’s Confederation Line from Tunney’s Pasture to Rideau station with her family on the LRT system’s first day in operation.

Ottawa's new LRT system was up and running for the public for the first time in Ottawa Saturday Sept 14, 2019. Blair Station Saturday. Tony Caldwell,   Tony Caldwell /Postmedia

“We live in Barrhaven now, so they need to bring it out there. Honestly, it’s not really going to benefit us that much … because we still have to bus to it.

Ottawa's new LRT system was up and running for the public for the first time in Ottawa Saturday Sept 14, 2019. Security at Blair Station Saturday. Tony Caldwell,   Tony Caldwell /Postmedia

Ottawa's new LRT system was up and running for the public for the first time in Ottawa Saturday Sept 14, 2019. People waiting to get onto the new LRT at Blair Station Saturday. Tony Caldwell,   Tony Caldwell /Postmedia

The LRT system will run at all 13 stations from Monday to Thursday from 5 a.m. until 1 a.m. It will run until 2 a.m. on Friday and open from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m. on Saturday. On both Sunday and holidays, the trains will have reduced hours from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m.  

Ottawa's new LRT system was up and running for the public for the first time in Ottawa Saturday Sept 14, 2019. Tony Caldwell,   Tony Caldwell /Postmedia

My head is swimming. So many people out here today. I think a 1000 must have come through the Tunneys gate in the first half-hour. Glad to be there with @JimWatsonOttawa to greet them! pic.twitter.com/wOfmNYYONK

Ottawa's new LRT system was up and running for the public for the first time in Ottawa Saturday Sept 14, 2019. Tony Caldwell,   Tony Caldwell /Postmedia

LRT officially opened to the public at 2 p.m.Saturday. The first train took off from Tunneys Pasture station on Scott Street where dozens of people showed up for the first official ride.

Artwork on the walls of Lyon Station as the LRT officially opens on September 14, 2019 complete with ceremonies at Tunney's Pasture. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia   Wayne Cuddington /jpg

Passengers check the route as the LRT officially opens on September 14, 2019 complete with ceremonies at Tunney's Pasture. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia   Wayne Cuddington /jpg

Were really excited to be here today and see the crowds and were so happy to be for our friends and family in Ottawa, said Chris Drew.

The entrance to the Lyon Station as the LRT officially opens on September 14, 2019 complete with ceremonies at Tunney's Pasture. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia   Wayne Cuddington /jpg

When the Confederation Line is not running overnight, there will be select Rapid bus routes extended into downtown from the east, west and south.

Artwork in the Lyon Station as the LRT officially opens on September 14, 2019 complete with ceremonies at Tunney's Pasture. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia   Wayne Cuddington /jpg

When the train doors closed to take iders for the first time, many cheered. One of the drivers thanked the public for attending the first ride.

Passengers on the train as the LRT officially opens on September 14, 2019 complete with ceremonies at Tunney's Pasture. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia   Wayne Cuddington /jpg

From Sept. 14 to Sept. 30, regular fares will be $3.50 for a single ticket, or $3.45 if you use a Presto card.

Directions on the sidewalk along Queen St near the World Exchange as the LRT officially opens on September 14, 2019 complete with ceremonies at Tunney's Pasture. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia   Wayne Cuddington /jpg

One rider who spoke to CTV News came to the capital from Toronto to be one of the first to use Ottawas LRT.

A historic day in the capital Saturday as the public finally got to ride the LRT system. Ashley Fraser/Postmedia   Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

Its fantastic – its definitely a dream Ottawa always wanted and now we have it, Loyer said.

A historic day in the capital Saturday as the public finally got to ride the LRT system. Ashley Fraser/Postmedia   Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

The doors close as a train is set to leave Pimisi Station as the LRT officially opens on September 14, 2019 complete with ceremonies at Tunney's Pasture. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia   Wayne Cuddington /jpg

LRT launch, September 14, 2019. Photo by Jean Levac/Postmedia News assignment 132258   Jean Levac /Postmedia News

A historic day in the capital Saturday as the public finally got to ride the LRT system.   Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

Jim Watson enjoys the first LRT ride during the LRT launch, September 14, 2019. Photo by Jean Levac/Postmedia News assignment 132258

Sylvie Béland goes through the gates at the Lyon Station as the LRT officially opens on September 14, 2019 complete with ceremonies at Tunney's Pasture. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia

Andrew Maffrey and Daphne Lessard with their daughter Sabine come through the gates at Parliament Station as the LRT officially opens on September 14, 2019 complete with ceremonies at Tunney's Pasture.   Wayne Cuddington /Postmedia

Jim Watson and Caroline Mulroney (R) enjoy the LRT launch, September 14, 2019. Photo by Jean Levac/Postmedia News assignment 132258

John Manconi (L), Allan Hubley and Jim Watson enjoy the LRT launch, September 14, 2019. Photo by Jean Levac/Postmedia News assignment 132258

A historic day in the capital Saturday as the public finally got to ride the LRT system. People check everything out at the Lees Station between trains coming and going. Ashley Fraser/Postmedia

A historic day in the capital Saturday as the public finally got to ride the LRT system. A young child takes time on the Hurdman Station stairs. Ashley Fraser/Postmedia

A historic day in the capital Saturday as the public finally got to ride the LRT system. Ashley Fraser/Postmedia

A historic day in the capital Saturday as the public finally got to ride the LRT system. 20-week-old Theo Eisener enjoyed his ride on the train Saturday. Ashley Fraser/Postmedia

OC Transpo Special Constable agents walk through Lees Station on Saturday.   Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

A card reader for the LRT system, which opened to passengers on Saturday.   Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

A view of Hurdman Station on Saturday afternoon as trains come and go.   Ashley Fraser /Postmedia