Thirty-two new operators will hit the road to drive buses across the city of Ottawa starting on Monday, helping OC Transpo address a staffing shortage that has resulted in hundreds of bus cancellations a day this month.

The transit service cancelled 4.5 per cent of bus trips across the city of Ottawa this week due to the shortage of operators. According to the OCTranspoLive Twitter account, 125 bus trips were cancelled on Friday between 5 a.m. and 6 p.m.

"OC Transpo continues to work to improve the delivery of scheduled trips and we sincerely apologize to our customers for the inconvenience they may have experienced recently," Director of Transit Service Delivery and Rail Operations Troy Charter said in a statement to CTV News Ottawa.

 "In the last week of July and first week of August, the average of scheduled bus service delivery was 94.1 per cent on weekdays, 93 per cent on Saturdays, and 97.2 per cent on Sundays. Overall, 4.5 per cent of trips were not delivered this week."

OC Transpo schedules approximately 7,900 trips on a typical day during the summer.

The transit service has blamed a "few short-term factors" for bus trip cancellations through the month in August, including higher-than usual sick leave absences and normal seasonal vacations.

Charter says OC Transpo has implemented a "robust recruitment campaign" to increase the number of bus operators available for service "as quickly as possible, and, in turn, provide more reliable bus service."

"Fifty-eight bus operators started with us earlier this year and another 32 are starting on Monday," Charter said.

This weekend, OC Transpo will be implementing R1 replacement bus service after 8 p.m. each evening while the O-Train remains closed for maintenance.  Charter says OC Transpo will adjust service as required to optimize resources available and move customers.

"OC Transpo has taken several proactive steps to ensure continued service and minimize customer disruptions during the upcoming maintenance work on O-Train Line 1," Charter said.

According to a memo from OC Transpo general manager Renee Amilcar, the proactive steps to ensure continued service and "minimize customer disruptions" include:

  • OC Transpo Red Vest staff will be present across the system and stationed at key areas to assist customers during the temporary service adjustments
  • Increased Transit Supervisor staffing levels over the weekend during R1 service to manage service in both directions and ensure operators have a clear understanding of routes.
  • An alternative R1 routing plan created should there be significant delays due to the Hwy. 417 closure between Carling and Metcalfe.