Parents anger at OC Transpo boils over: daughter's commute to school more than doubles to 1 hour 35 minutes
Parents in Ottawa's east end say changes to bus routes have created a major challenge for their children.
An Ottawa mother says her two daughters have to leave home before 6:30 a.m. and walk 15 minutes on Blair Road to Montreal Road in the dark to catch a bus in order to be on time for school.
Katerine Ethier-Boyer says her daughters used be able to catch the 23 bus beside their house, but that route was changed as of Oct. 6 in the LRT changeover.
“It doesn't make sense - it just doesn't make sense,” said Etiene-Boyer.
“If they do take the bus then they’re going to be half an hour late every morning to school.”
The bus no longer comes to their neighbourhood early enough to get the girls to school on time. The option is to wait for the bus, and be late for school, or walk to Montreal Road.
“The first bus comes into our neighbourhood at 6:40 so it doesn’t provide them enough time to get Blair Station.”
Their commute to school has more than doubled from 45 minutes, to more than an hour and a half, if the bus is on time.
According OC Transpo’s online travel planner, if the girls left at 6:07 a.m., they would need to walk to Montreal Road to catch one of three buses, in order to arrive at their school for its 8 a.m. start. The total commute amounts to 1 hour and 35 minutes.
The Boyers are also raising concerns about the walk in the dark, and even more so, with winter just around the corner.
“It’s scary,” said Ethier-Boyer.
I don’t think it’s safe.”
His daughters are students in the IB program at Collége Catholique Mer Bleu in Orléans.
Sylvain Boyer says The French Catholic School Board offers transportation to students in the IB program. The daughters were given Presto cards last year and again this year.
“OC Transpo does not meet the need,” said Boyer.
“To get the Presto card, you got to have the service, and there’s no service.”
According to the Boyer family, OC Transpo said it would not add more buses because of low ridership numbers in that area.
In a statement early Tuesday, the board for the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est wrote that it 'is very concerned' about the experiences of Boyer's two daughters.
"In addition, the administration is aware that recent changes made by OC Transpo to some of its routes are impacting some families. In fact, to reduce the length of some OC Transpo trips, the Ottawa School Transportation Consortium is currently in discussion with OC Transpo to find a solution that would allow Mr. Boyer's two daughters to travel to Collège catholique Mer Bleue in a safe manner and within a reasonable time," the statement continued.
CECCE says students within the school boundaries receive regular bus service provided by Ottawa School Transporation Consortium.
“With regards to the many students who have chosen to enroll in a school outside their area of their normal boundaries, as in the case of the Boyer family, the CECCE's policy is to offer students a OC Transpo Presto bus pass. The majority of OC Transpo trips to our out of boundary schools average around 60 minutes. This policy allows access to specialized high school programs for many families.”