OC Transpo offering free rides on Canada Day
Nearing the end of the line at Cyrville station. A small utilitarian station with not much happening except trains. (Graham Richardson/CTV Ottawa)
OTTAWA -- OC Transpo is celebrating Canada Day with free rides on buses and the O-Train.
Transportation Services general manager John Manconi told the Transit Commission about no charge transit on July 1 when asked if OC Transpo is looking at free transit to lure customers back to transit as COVID-19 vaccines continue to rollout.
"Everything's on the table," said Manconi. "For example, July 1 is no fare, even though there's no Canada Day we're going to continue with that."
Canadian Heritage has announced Canada Day festivities in Ottawa will be virtual for a second straight year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ontario's COVID-19 restrictions won't allow for large gatherings for Canada Day festivities in the capital.
Coun. Shawn Menard asked staff if OC Transpo was looking at fare free transit to attract customers back to OC Transpo in the fall.
"We started work about two weeks ago, especially when we started to see the acceleration on the vaccination. We're looking what other jurisdictions have done," said Manconi, noting Washington changed its fare structure to bring customers back.
"Everything is on the table, and if you have ideas or suggestions we'd welcome them."
Manconi says OC Transpo is looking at options to bring riders back as the restrictions ease and people return to work, grow ridership and sustain riders.
A report will be presented to the Transit Commission at a later date.
In May, OC Transpo ridership was at 20 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
"As anticipated, there was lower ridership in May compared to other months due to the stay-at-home order," said a report for the Transit Commission.
Director of Transit Customer Systems and Planning Pat Scrimgeour told the commission that ridership has been between 17 and 21 per cent of pre-pandemic levels each month so far in 2021.