It's been 10 years in the making, but the wait is finally over as thousands of east end commuters enjoyed taking the LRT to and from work for the first time this week.
|Commuters scramble to be the first members of the public to ride on the LRT during its inaugural run on Saturday. FRED SHERWIN PHOTO
After passing its inaugural weekend with flying colours, the train was ready to welcome commuters at the Blair Station on Monday morning and zip them downtown in quiet efficiency.
After the morning rush hour went off with barely a hiccup, the afternoon commute went much the same way.
Commuters who boarded the train downtown were greeted by a phalanx of buses at the Blair Station which took them to all points further east along routes 95, 93, 31, 32, 33, 34, 37 and 38.
A number of people interviewed by the Orléans Star on Monday said having to transfer from the bus to the train in the morning and vice versa in the afternoon added 10 to 15 minutes to their commute in each direction, but they weren't complaining as the ride on the spacious, clean and extremely quiet train was well worth it.
"I'd much rather take the train than the bus,” said Orléans resident Ken MacDonald. "It's just too bad it ends here and you have to get on a bus again.”
The only beef that a few people had was the layout of the platform and the distance they had to walk from the train to the bus. But the complaints were few and far between as most people enjoyed the novelty of getting to ride the train.
The LRT was officially launched on
Saturday during a ceremony at Tunney's Pasture that was attended by former mayors Bob Chiarelli and Larry O'Brien.
After the prerequisite speeches by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and Ontario
Minister of Transportation Caroline
Mulroney, the assembled dignitaries boarded the train with a throng of journalists, current and former city staff members and the entire city council for a trip to Blair Station and back.
Following the return trip to Tunney's Pasture, Beacon Hill, Cyrville councillor Tim Tierney drove back to Blair Station to welcome the dozens of people who had lined up to catch a ride on the first train which was scheduled to leave the station at 2 p.m.
When he arrived at the station, he was still giddy from his trip on the train.
"When you're on the train and see how easy it's going to be from the users' perspective, you really realize what a game changer this is going to be for the city,” said Tierney who plans to be a regular rider. "Why would you ever drive again?”
Orléans resident Pierre Rondeau
arrived at Blair Station at 8:30 a.m. to make sure he was able to get on the very first train at 2 p.m.
"I am so glad to be here on the first day. This is a historic moment,” said Rondeau. "I've been waiting 10 years for this. I've been excited since the day they said they were thinking about it. I only wish it came to Orléans already.”
Work on the second phase of LRT, which will see it extended all the way to Trim Road, has already begun. It will take five years to complete. In the meantime commuters will be able to enjoy traveling along the existing line in quiet comfort.
story was made possible thanks to the generous support of
our local business partners.)