It could be three months before public transit in the nation's capital returns to full service, even if an OC Transpo strike ends soon.

According to city estimates, it could be up to 12 weeks before local buses return to Ottawa streets.

"They have to be certified on a regular basis and approximately 300 buses will have to be certified by the end of January. That work simply can't get done even if we were to go back tomorrow," said Coun. Peggy Feltmate.

Although main routes will be up and running far before all local buses are on the road, the possibility of waiting months before transit users are able to complete their entire commute on OC Transpo is something many residents call frustrating.

"I guess I will walk, or my girlfriend might have to come pick me up," one transit user told CTV Ottawa.

Media blackout on negotiations

Although both the city and the transit union traded counter-offers over the weekend, no agreement was made.

The city has now issued a media blackout on negotiations until a settlement is reached. Currently, it's not known if the two sides are back at the bargaining table, or if they will return to negotiations anytime soon.

"It's very important at this point and moving forward," said city manager Kent Kirkpatrick.

"As I said, proposals, discussions, those are going to take place between the parties and not through the media."

Help for post-secondary students

In the meantime, Ottawa's colleges and universities are stepping up efforts to get students to class.

The University of Ottawa has created a free temporary housing program that puts stranded students in touch with university employees and other Ottawa residents who live within walking distance of the school's two campuses.

University of Ottawa President Allan Rock has already signed up to open his home to two students who rely on public transportation.

"The strike has been difficult, especially during extreme cold. Debby and I thought we have the room, two bedrooms," he said.

"We hope not just employees of the university, but residents of Ottawa-Centre, within walking distance to the university, will do the same."

The program also puts students in touch with volunteers who don't live near the school, but are willing to drive students to campus or shuttle pick-up locations.

Students interested in applying for the program can contact the off-campus housing department at 613-562-5800, ext. 5057. Anyone willing to volunteer their home or offer rides to students can call 613-564-5400, ext. 5057.

Carleton adds shuttle to Kanata

Carleton University, meanwhile, is spending about $5,000 per day to operate shuttle buses to help about 2,500 students get to and from campus.

The school's associate vice president says even one stranded student is too many.

"As many as we can get to campus, that's what we want to do. We have contacts from students in different areas, that's why we added the Kanata shuttle," said Suzanne Blanchard.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Vanessa Lee