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The countdown is on to a historic day in the city of Ottawa.  The city’s light rail is expected to launch on Saturday.

“I think it’s going to be exciting to see how it’s going to work,” says Gatineau resident and uOttawa student Emmenuel Kazadi. 

Kazadi, like many riders, has been waiting years to finally ride the rails.  While he won’t need to commute on Saturday, he’s considering a special trip, just to be one of the first. 

As riders look forward to the launch, city and transit crews are busy putting the final touches on transit stations.  It’s not known yet what conveniences, if any, will be underground for riders.

“To be honest all I need is my french vanilla in the winter time,” laughs Kazaki, “I would love to see a Tim Hortons.”

The city won’t say what retailers, if any, are already on board to set up shop along the transitway.   There are four retail spaces for lease in all, at Tunney’s Pasture, Hurdman, Blair and Rideau Stations.

The spaces won’t be retail stores, more like kiosks, with small footprints from 161 to 366 square feet.

Businesses already established along the transitway plan to capitalize on the LRT opening.

“We’re anticipating lots of new faces,” says Rideau Centre Farm Boy Store Manager Doug Hatoum.

The Farm Boy is just steps from the escalators to the Rideau LRT Station inside the Rideau Centre, Hatoum says he plans to add more staff and more grab-and-go options to deal with what he hopes will be an increase in commuter traffic.

“Breakfast and coffee ready to go and you can be in and out in minutes,” says Hatoum,

“We’re getting prepared to for the incoming traffic with some staff and more convenient options.”

Rail riders won’t just be looking for where to grab a cup of coffee but they’ll also need to know where to find a washroom.

There will be washrooms at just four of the 13 transit stations, Tunney’s Pasture, Bayview, Hurdman and Blair.

Even with all the hype around the LRT opening, rider Dan Edwards say he won’t get excited until he actually rides the train,

“It hasn’t started yet so I’m holding the anticipation.”

What Edwards is looking forward to is a reliable and safe service,

“I think the most important thing is having a place where people feel comfortable no matter what time it is.”

Ottawa’s LRT is expected to launch at 2pm Saturday, September 14th.