News / Ottawa

Sneak peek: five things you’ll find in the new light rail stations

From cafes and kiosks to digital schedule boards, the new light rail stations are far from your basic O-Train platform.

Big red Os will mark all station entrances.

OC Transpo

Big red Os will mark all station entrances.

The 13 light rail stations opening in 2018 aren’t your regular O-Train platforms. Far from it: these state-of-the-art buildings will be packed with all-new integrated signage, ticket booths, digital schedules and, if you’re lucky, cafes and convenience stores. Check out the coolest features transit commission approved at its meeting Wednesday.

On the run

Grab a fresh muffin on your way to work, or pick up your dry cleaning on the way home: these are the kinds of services that will keep customers riding the rails, OC Transpo staff said Wednesday. There’s retail space planned at Tunney’s Pasture, Rideau, Hurdman and Blair stations, and staff want them filled with bright, open-concept cafes, convenience stores and services. Kiosks, vending machines and ATMs could also make an appearance. But the city doesn’t stand to make much money from the deals: securing the right services for customers – regardless of what the owner can pay in rent – is as important as making money, staff said.

The O Dot

Like London’s infamous tube signs, staff want the O-Train’s “big, red O” to become a universally recognizable symbol that transit is ready and waiting nearby. The illuminated Os will be posted outside all train station entrances, and the same theme will be incorporated into major station signs. Staff are working with tourist agencies to make sure visitors get the message, too.

Get with the times

Real-time digital schedules will tell passengers when the next two trains are expected, and audio messages will announce their arrival. With trains arriving every few minutes during rush hour, the signs will keep passengers in the loop without having to check the schedule, staff said. Digital bus schedules with real-time updates will also be installed for passengers transferring to local routes.

Take a walk

Using transit can be disorienting if you don’t know where you’re going, so staff have developed localized maps for each station that show passengers what’s within five minutes walking distance of the exit. Particularly in the downtown core, this will help tourists (and inexperienced residents) figure out which way is up and how to access major landmarks, staff said.

Seeing red (and green)

System maps will look a lot like Christmas – even in July – since the system will use red and green markers to differentiate lines one and two. Staff dismissed concerns this choice could impact people with colour blindness: they said particular red and green hues will create contrast between the two colours, and they’ll be tested to make sure they’re legible to everyone.

Metro Savers