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  • Writer's pictureMatthieu Gagnon

Public Transportation in Convent Glen

Picture of the Jeanne D'Arc Overpass showing a four lane road with very limited public transportation infrastructure.
Jeanne d'Arc Overpass

All the discussions about the OC Transpo route review this week has me thinking about public transportation in Convent Glen. I wanted to formulate an opinion on the current purpose of transit in the community and what it should be. 

To evaluate the current state of transportation, I decided to create a number of scenarios that I think would be valid use cases and evaluate how useful public transportation is compared to the car and active transportation. 

The obvious first scenario is the commute to downtown which is often the focus of such discussions. For this scenario, I decided to choose a route from Convent Glen Public School, located in the middle of a residential neighbourhood, to City Hall with a plan to arrive at 9h on a Monday. Google Maps evaluates the time to drive at 20 minutes, transit at about 45-50 minutes and 1h9 by bike using the pathway or 53 minutes if you are ok with riding in traffic most of the way. The evening times are similar but a bit longer for transit and driving. Transit is definitely more time consuming than driving and costs $7.40 round trip. Driving, if you have a car available, cost gas, maintenance and $20 of parking. If you don't have a car, acquiring one for the commute is about $1000 per month. Since transit won't save you time, I would say that for commuting, the purpose of transit is to save you money. You could save more money by riding a bike if you are able and comfortable doing so especially if you opt for an ebike. Bike times on Google Maps are based on a 16km/h average speed which some people can exceed especially with an ebike where 30 km/h is easily achievable (I know the speed limit on MUPs is 20 km/h but that's a topic for another time). Based on this analysis, my conclusion is that transit for commuting is only useful for those who can't afford or don't want to pay for a car and do not want to bike or are unable to do so. 

Another use case that I want to examine is the errands trip. For this scenario, we're going to Des Voyageurs as our neighbourhood starting destination and we are going to go get groceries for a couple of days, buy a bottle of wine and get a prescription filled. Luckily, all those needs can be met at the Convent Glen Mall. Driving would take 3 minutes, bike 5 minutes and walking 22 minutes. Evaluating transit is more complex since a lot depends on the schedule alignment between when the bus there arrives and the bus to come back arrives. I leave Des Voyageurs now at 13h30 on a Sunday afternoon, I can get there by 13h50 with the bus departing Jeanne D’Arc and Vorlage at 13h42. The bus runs every 15 minutes which is not too bad in terms of scheduling. Say my errands take me 40 minutes, I would be leaving the mall at 14h30. At that time, I would have to take the 38 at 14h54 which gets me home at 15h06. Walking would have taken me 45 minutes for the round trip which with 40 minutes of shopping would have me home at 15h05. The bus is not competitive with any other form of transportation on time and would cost fare to boot. OC Transpo makes it theoretically possible to use the bus to do errands but it is definitely not useful to most people who can drive, bike or walk.

One trip that I think is important is to give residents of retirement residences such as St-Louis access to important amenities since they are more likely to not be able to drive, walk or bike to their destination. Bob MacQuarrie is a 21 minute trip on the 138. Place d’Orléans is about 20 minutes on the 138. These trips are important to maintain. I would like to see OC Transpo identify all those residences and map out where the residents need to go so routes can be improved and maintained. 

In conclusion, public transportation in Convent Glen is not competitive with other modes of transportation for those able to use those other modes. For it to become useful, it would need to be sped up with frequency increased. Focusing on services on major roads such as St-Joseph, Orléans and Jeanne d'Arc instead of meandering routes through residential neighbourhood may be a good option especially given that it is where we have some higher density along those routes and where additional density is planned. Most of these roads are four lanes so there would be room to transform some lanes into bus lanes which could speed up service and reduce variability. Bus priority at intersections would also help. 

The problem of the last km would remain. This could be addressed with active transportation. Making sure that people can comfortably and directly get from their home to the more frequent and faster bus routes by bike or walking could improve the experience. Good bike parking at bus stops would also be needed to make multimodal trips possible.

As a final note, we should also properly fund ParaTranspo to accommodate people for whom the bus is not a viable option because of physical disabilities.

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