Thursday, October 1, 2009

Baseline Station has been made redundant.

If you aren't familiar with Ottawa, you won't realize that Baseline Station, a major bus station, is named after the major east/west arterial road, which is a road, not a form of musical notation. The big giveaway is the 'base,' not 'bass.'

I really don't know why they named it that. Maybe because, at the time, Baseline Road was so far away from Ottawa when it was constructed it was considered the town limit or 'baseline.' I don't know.

But here's the real plotline (not baseline): They've moved the bus station over. Baseline Station was the very first transit station to be constructed for the transitway in 1980. Now they've moved it immediately west of the current station, to make way for a new Algonquin College building.

I don't like it.

They've officially moved operations to the new station today. And while it's cool and brand new and fancy and actually clean, it's so not as good as the original station.

The old station was better shelter-wise. One long structure ran across the whole station. It was a large, covered, sealed structure that had heat radiators and maps and schedules. In some sections it was a concrete building, with doors. It was more user-compliant. It was nice and big and well-built.

For the new station, there's about four or five little bus shelters clustered at one end of a long long pavement. Normal bus shelters you'd find at any bus stop that can only fit about maybe four or five people.

They're small, open, and redundant. I understand they've probably not finished the station yet (there were no schedules or maps) but they should at least build bigger, proper shelters with doors that are solidly built. The average bus shelters in use now aren't for holding many people nor are they very hospitable.

Another thing was the length. Geez. I entered at the north end, a big mistake. I walked about half a kilometre across pavement to the very end of the station to the stop the 95 stops at, which didn't even have a shelter. Just a wheel rim that supported the flag with the route numbers on it. About twenty people clustered around the barren sidewalk waiting for the bus in the cold wind.

Now this is not what I think you'd find at one of the biggest, most busy bus transit stations in the city. It's not very habitable at all, whereas the old one was very habitable. I thought of it as a big long, solid building really, not as a thin red structure that sat in between the two roadways. Even Fallowfield Station, which is really just a large park and ride, is better. The shelters are bigger, sealed and heated in the winter. They have lights.

I sure hope they still have many things to do and add-on to the new station. The one way it's better than the old station is the position of the roadway - instead of having a station in between two roads going north/south, you have one two-lane road going both directions with the station on either sides (or rather, the little shelters). It's more convienient for the buses to drive straight through the station instead of around it.

So I hope it becomes better over a short time. I don't want to stand out in the wintry winds at a bus station, I want to stand inside a big warm shelter that's well-connected with the rest of them. Right now it's just a large expanse of concrete with a few little glass-walled structures.

Oh yeah. How interesting is it that the year I start college is the year it expands? Algonquin's renovations aren't routine, the most recent thing they've done previously is add a large residence building behind it. Now they're going across the road and doing a whole new wing, complete with a crossover link over Woodroffe so students don't have to wait for a light just to go to class in the other building. They haven't started construction yet. Hell, they haven't started de-construction on the great old solid station. They've just ground up the road leading into it from the transitway. And put a fence around it.

-Justin C.

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