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OC Transpo redirecting buses off residential streets



In a strategic move to adapt its services to the evolving transit landscape and address budget shortfalls, OC Transpo has unveiled a comprehensive plan that will redirect buses off residential streets with low ridership. This major overhaul of Ottawa's public transit network, part of the OC Transpo Bus Route Review, aims to optimize service levels in response to post-pandemic travel patterns while preparing for the imminent launch of the O-Train Trillium Line in 2024.


The need for these changes is underscored by the stark financial challenges facing OC Transpo, with a projected $40.8 million deficit in 2023 and an expected $35 million revenue shortfall for 2024. To ensure a sustainable and efficient transit system, OC Transpo is realigning its routes to meet the current demand.


Renee Amilcar, the General Manager of Transit Services, emphasized the importance of these changes, stating, "Changes help ensure that a sustainable bus route network is available, with a reliable target of 99.5 percent." The modifications to the bus routes will entail a range of impacts on customers' transit experiences, and while some individuals will notice minimal changes to their daily trips, the overall reliability of the system is expected to improve significantly.


OC Transpo has not specified when these changes will be implemented but has committed to a gradual and comprehensive communication plan over several months to keep customers informed and prepared for the transition.


Key highlights of the upcoming changes in the OC Transpo bus route network include:


- Replacement of many Connexion routes (200-series) with other routes.

- Increased frequency on essential routes across the city, offering 15-minute service at most times.

- Enhanced connections to the O-Train Line 2 and Line 4 (The Trillium Line).

- Improved connections between and to community hubs, such as commercial and employment areas.

- Redirection of service away from streets with low ridership or those in close proximity to other well-serviced streets.


The adjustments to the bus routes aim to provide customers with more frequent service on major routes and improved 15-minute service, resulting in faster, more reliable trips, taking advantage of the O-Train Line 2.


One significant aspect of this transition involves the removal of several Connexion Routes, specifically routes 232, 236, 252, 257, 258, 265, 267, 268, 270, 271, 273, 278, 282, 290, and 291, which will be replaced by nearby service routes. OC Transpo will also reallocate surplus capacity from downtown-oriented Connexion routes to enhance frequency on major bus routes.


The comprehensive route review extends to dozens of other routes, including the removal of limited service on select routes and the introduction of new weekday peak period routes.


Mayor Mark Sutcliffe emphasized the necessity of these changes, acknowledging the importance of public transit for Ottawa residents. "Change is coming, and change is never easy," he stated. He further emphasized that these adjustments are not driven by cost-cutting but rather by reallocating resources to areas with higher demand, resulting in more frequent and reliable service.


The OC Transpo Bus Route Review is a crucial component of the five-year OC Transpo roadmap, focusing on stabilizing service delivery and increasing reliability. To achieve this, OC Transpo collaborated with Dillion Consulting to meet the following goals:


- Promote sustainable transit by prioritizing a mode shift to sustainable options with all-day service.

- Enhance access to transit through fast and frequent service on main transit corridors.

- Foster connected transit networks to encourage a shift away from driving, with a focus on active transportation.

- Enable equitable transit by simplifying trip chains between multiple destinations and providing access to local amenities.

- Support the development of 15-minute neighborhoods, where daily amenities are easily accessible without the need for a car.


The timeline for implementing these route changes remains uncertain, but OC Transpo assures that adjustments will be made in response to operational needs and requirements. As Ottawa's public transit system adapts to the new normal, these changes aim to provide a more efficient and responsive service to its residents.


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