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OC Transpo cancels dozens of bus trips to accommodate R1 service during O-Train shut down

An R1 replacement bus travels along Rideau Street on Thursday. (Josh Pringle/CTV News Ottawa) An R1 replacement bus travels along Rideau Street on Thursday. (Josh Pringle/CTV News Ottawa)

OC Transpo cancelled more than 200 planned bus trips during the first two days of the O-Train shut down to provide extra buses for the R1 replacement bus service.

The light-rail transit system has been out of service since Monday afternoon after an issue with an axle bearing was discovered on one train during a 50,000 km inspection. During the O-Train closure, OC Transpo has been operating R1 replacement bus service along the LRT route between Blair and Tunney's Pasture stations.

New statistics provided to CTV News Ottawa shows OC Transpo cancelled 116 trips on Tuesday and 154 trips on Wednesday to reallocate the buses to the R1 replacement bus service.

As of Thursday, OC Transpo is running 36 buses during peak periods to accommodate passenger volumes. OC Transpo had 28 buses providing service during peak periods on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"The Transit Operations Control Centre monitors the transit network in real time and balances resources to minimize impacts of disruptions and deliver the best possible experience to our customers," Troy Charter, Director of Transit Service Delivery and Rail Operations, said in a statement.

"The decision to not deliver a trip is based on the possible impact to customers, for example trips with high frequency are more likely to have trips that are not delivered than school routes, first and last trips on a route, and on less frequent routes. 

"Staff are closely monitoring the performance of R1 bus replacement service and is adding capacity where possible while balancing the resource impacts across our system."

OC Transpo says 339 trips were not delivered out of 7,725 planned trips on Tuesday, with 116 trips reallocated to R1 replacement bus service. On Wednesday, 340 trips were not delivered out of 7,725 planned trips, with 154 trips reallocated to R1 service.

Charter did not say why the other trips were cancelled.

An average of 134 bus trips were not delivered during the week of July 3 to 7.

OC Transpo has not said when O-Train service will resume as inspections continue on all 45 LRT vehicles. As of Friday afternoon, 24 of the 45 trains have been inspected.

Charter says the R1 replacement bus service means extra staff are not available to cover cancelled trips.

"During a regular week, the Transit Operations Control Centre works to identify supplemental resources that could be used to minimize unfiled trips," Charter said.

"However, during R1 service all available resources are being directed to supplement R1 service."

Coun. Steve Desroches, the chair of Ottawa's LRT subcommittee, says OC Transpo faces a "balancing act" to supply buses to the R1 fleet.

"I think they're trying to do the best they can in looking at options in terms of trying to get more vehicles on the road," Desroches told Newstalk 580 CFRA's Ottawa at Work with Patricia Boal.

"You have to be cognisant of the fact that we have a limited fleet and even with the current R1 service that you are sort of poaching and taking service out of other parts of the city. It's always a balancing act, I think, for OC Transpo to provide a reliable R1 system."

Statistics presented to the Transit Commission in June showed an average of 130 out of 8,217 scheduled trips were not delivered on an average weekday in May.

Staff said 58 per cent of cancelled trips were due to on-street service adjustments, 25 per cent due to mechanical breakdowns and 16 per cent due to driver absenteeism.

The 2023 transit budget included $46 million in savings at OC Transpo, including retiring 117 buses that are beyond their useful life or are too expensive to maintain.

OC Transpo plans to hire 300 new bus drivers this year to address bus trip cancellations. Top Stories

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