Turning transit stations into profit centres: Ottawa Business Journal

(March 4, 2011) Ottawa Business Journal discusses Energy Probe 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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About Lawrence Solomon

Lawrence Solomon is one of Canada's leading environmentalists. His book, The Conserver Solution (Doubleday) popularized the Conserver Society concept in the late 1970s and became the manual for those interested in incorporating environmental factors into economic life. An advisor to President Jimmy Carter's Task Force on the Global Environment (the Global 2000 Report) in the late 1970's, he has since been at the forefront of movements to reform foreign aid, stop nuclear power expansion and adopt toll roads. Mr. Solomon is a founder and managing director of Energy Probe Research Foundation and the executive director of its Energy Probe and Urban Renaissance Institute divisions. He has been a columnist for The Globe and Mail, a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, the editor and publisher of the award-winning The Next City magazine, and the author or co-author of seven books, most recently The Deniers, a #1 environmental best-seller in both Canada and the U.S. .
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