Turning transit stations into profit centres: Ottawa Business Journal

(March 4, 2011) Ottawa Business Journal discusses URI executive director Lawrence Solomon’s proposal to sell transit stations to the private sector.

Peter Kovessy
Ottawa Business Journal

Transferring at Hurdman station can be a soul-wrenching experience. Bus passengers are abandoned on a concrete island, cut off from the city by a moat of asphalt patrolled by loud, diesel exhaust-belching buses.

The station itself is surrounded by vacant land, a bus staging area and the back side of a clutch of condominium towers.

For those trying to kill time between connections, distractions include reading and re-reading OC Transpo’s system map, shuffling from shelter to shelter, or visiting the Gateway convenience store.

Lawrence Solomon believes cities building rail lines, like Ottawa, should be rethinking this last amenity. Making retail development a priority, he argues, can make transit stations more pleasant and efficient for passengers, and less costly to operate.

“I’d sell the stations,” the writer and founder of Energy Probe, an environmental agency, said in a recent interview.

“I’d put them up for auction and allow retailers to bid on them … Mall developers would be very interested (and) would figure out the best way to get people in and facilitate passenger (movement).”

Read the full story here.

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