OC Transpo trimming routes, cutting 70 jobs
An OC Transpo bus rolls through downtown Ottawa, Thursday April 16, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
OTTAWA -- After a year of low ridership, OC Transpo staff are considering service and job cuts in a bid to save money.
A report prepared for the transit commission meeting next week outlines steps the transit service plans to take to find cost savings as fare revenue continues to be low.
"A set of COVID-19 service adjustments are being made in mid-2021, which will better match the connectivity and capacity of the OC Transpo system to the current travel needs in Ottawa," the report says. "These service adjustments are based on current ridership counts and on suggestions from customers, employers, Councillors, and staff."
Temporary service reductions have already been made on the Confederation Line LRT.
OC Transpo expects the changes would save $5.5 million in 2021 and $11 million in 2022.
Among the changes are 70 job cuts, which staff say will be attained through attrition and reassignment.
For riders, a number of routes will be shortened or temporarily cut starting in June. Other routes will have fewer buses per hour.
For all of 2020, OC Transpo General Manager John Manconi insisted that route cuts were a last resort. OC Transpo deferred several infrastructure projects into 2022 or beyond in a bid to save cash, but ridership has remained well below pre-pandemic levels.
During the last transit commission meeting, commissioners heard that ridership had grown in February with the return of in-person learning to about 27 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
All of the changes will be discussed at the transit commission meeting on March 31.
OC Transpo says the following nine routes will be temporarily suspended starting in June 2021. Their last day of operation will be Friday, June 18, 2021.
- Route 17 from Wateridge – Customers can use Routes 7 and 27
- Route 224 from Beacon Hill – Customers can use Route 24 to connect to Blair Station
- Route 225 from Orléans and Chapel Hill South – Customers can use Route 34 and adjusted Route 32 to connect to Blair Station
- Route 233 from Orléans – Customers can use Route 33 to connect to Blair Station
- Route 235 from Orléans – Customers can use Route 35 to connect to Blair Station
- Route 251 from Bells Corners – Customers can use Route 57 to connect to Tunney’s Pasture Station
- Route 266 from Kanata – Customers can use Routes 63 and 64 to connect to Tunney’s Pasture Station
- Route 275 from Barrhaven – Customers can use Route 75 to connect to Tunney’s Pasture Station
- Route 284 from Manordale – Customers can use adjusted Route 82 to connect to Tunney’s Pasture Station
"These routes will be temporarily suspended until system ridership recovers to closer to normal levels," staff said.
Service on many 200-series "Connexion" routes will be reduced to every 30 minutes, while several other routes will see frequency reductions during peak periods Monday to Friday.
Some routes are to be shortened while others will be extended, staff say, noting that service to downtown has declined significantly but routes serving hospitals, shopping areas, and some employment locations have remained up to 80 per cent of normal levels.
- Route 15 – Midday service from Monday to Friday to the Museum of History in Gatineau will be removed. Customers who use this service can instead use STO Route 67.
- Route 37 – All trips will start and end at Place d’Orléans Station. Customers can transfer to Route 39 and other routes to continue to or from Blair Station.
- Route 40 – All trips which currently extend via the Transitway will start and end at Greenboro Station. Customers can transfer to Routes 97, 98, and other routes to continue to or from Hurdman Station.
- Route 55 – All trips will start and end at Westgate Shopping Centre. Customers can transfer to Route 85 to continue to or from Bayshore Station.
- Route 58 – All trips will start and end at Lincoln Fields Station. Customers can transfer to Routes 57, 61, 62, 63, 64, 74, 75, and other routes to continue to or from Tunney’s Pasture Station.
- Route 74 – All trips which currently extend via the Vimy Memorial Bridge will start and end at Nepean Woods Station. Customers can transfer to Route 99 to continue to or from Riverview Station.
- Route 83 – All trips will start or end at Baseline Station. Customers can transfer to Routes 74, 75, and other routes to continue to or from Tunney’s Pasture Station.
- Route 84 – All trips will start or end at Baseline Station. Customers can transfer to Routes 74, 75, and other routes to continue to or from Tunney’s Pasture Station.
- Route 11 – Route extended to Mackenzie King Bridge to provide improved connections to the Rideau Centre and uOttawa.
- Route 19 – Route extended during shopping hours to Hurdman Station via St-Laurent, Belfast, and Terminal, to provide a new connection to the Trainyards shopping area.
- Route 32 – Route extended to Chapel Hill Station, to continue peak period service to Willow Aster Circle and new midday service to bus stops along Fern Casey Street and Renaud Road.
- Route 33 – Increased service from Monday to Friday, to provide service every 30 minutes through the middle of the day. These midday trips will start and end at Place d’Orléans Station.
- Route 53 – Revised route to operate on Holland Avenue instead of Parkdale Avenue, to reduce travel times and improve reliability.
- Route 55 – Sunday service extended to Westgate Shopping Centre, serving The Ottawa Hospital’s General, Riverside, and Civic campuses, the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, and Catherine and Chamberlain/Isabella south of downtown, and connecting with O-Train Line 1 at Lees Station.
- Route 56 – Increased service seven days a week on Parkdale Avenue between Tunney’s Pasture Station and The Ottawa Hospital’s Civic Campus, to replace the current service provided by Route 53.
- Route 62 – More frequent and later evening service and new Saturday and Sunday service to Kanata and Stittsville. This improved service will replace some current trips to and from Tanger Outlets on Route 162.
- Route 82 – Revised route to operate via Majestic in peak periods, as it does at other times of the week.
- Route 88 – Increased service on Saturdays, so that buses run every 15 minutes through more of the day.
- Route 98 – Increased service on Sundays, so that buses run every 30 minutes in the morning and evening and every 15 minutes in the afternoon.
- Route 99 – Selected trips extended to Citigate in Barrhaven to match shift times at the new Amazon building, which is expected to be operational this fall. (This change will begin on Sunday, September 5.)
- New Route 110 – New service between Kanata North, Kanata South, and Barrhaven, serving the Kanata North business area, Hazeldean Mall, and Citigate, and connecting with Rapid routes at Innovation, Teron, Eagleson, and Fallowfield Stations. The new route will operate every 30 minutes from Monday to Friday and at selected times on weekends to match shift times at the new Amazon building. (Saturday and Sunday service will begin on Sunday, September 5.) The route will replace current Route 179 which provides limited service between Citigate and Fallowfield Station.
- Route 170 – Adjusted route at Citigate to operate on newly-constructed streets, to remove temporary service from private internal roadways, and to bring service closer to employment locations.
- Route 294 – Realigned route in the Leitrim (Findlay Creek) area to operate on Kelly Farm Drive between Dun Skipper Drive and Leitrim Road. Service on Findlay Creek Drive will continue to be provided by Route 93.