The Canadian city sits on the Quebec-Ontario border and 40% of its labour force commutes into Ottawa daily. Should the project come to fruition, officials believe it would reduce the number of buses in downtown Ottawa by 60%.
Gatineau officials say the light-rail project is needed to meet the demands of a growing city with a congested road network that has little opportunity to increase capacity. The city says light rail will establish a modern public transit network that will support future development and better respond to transport issues in the west sector of the city.
“Today, we are introducing a public transit project, but it’s a lot more,” says Gatineau mayor Ms Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin. “The project we are putting before you is ambitious, it will give us economic strength, structure our urban development, in fact, [it] will redefine Gatineau’s development model and help us protect our environment. It is a project in the image of our city: green, modern, ambitious.”
The network would comprise two lines with a shared central section. In the north, trams would run from Vanier to boulevard du Plateau to boulevard Saint-Raymond, while in the south the line would link Eardley with rue Principale, chemin d’Aylmer, boulevard Alexandré-Taché and to rue Laurier. The system would create a loop with Ottawa’s O-Train by running on two bridges over the Ottawa River. The eastern portion of the system would run on the Alexandra Bridge and link downtown Gatineau and downtown Ottawa and the Prince of Wales Bridge would link the systems in the west.
Gatineau officials say the light-rail system will be 100% electric and services will operate at five-minute headway during peak service and every 15 minutes during nights and weekends. Project costs are estimated at $CA 80m (US$60.14m) per-kilometre, including rolling stock and related investments (maintenance centre and other technical elements), which brings the total estimated cost to $CA 2.1bn. Officials say the estimate is derived from an analysis of 20 similar projects completed or underway across Canada.
Services could begin in 2028.