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City reveals where OC Transpo has deployed 40 extra buses amid LRT issues

An OC Transpo bus is pictured during a snowstorm in Ottawa on February 2, 2011.
An OC Transpo bus is pictured during a snowstorm in Ottawa on February 2, 2011. The Canadian Press Images / Nathalie Madore

OC Transpo has shared where the agency has deployed 40 buses it took out of retirement and placed back on the roads to bolster service amid repeated service disruptions and delays on the new light-rail (LRT) system.

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“All of the bus assignments are based on feedback from customers, both through councillors’ offices and directly to OC Transpo, and on operational data and observations,” John Manconi, the city’s general manager of transportation services, wrote in a memo sent to city council members and the media on Friday.

“Supervisory staff have been making adjustments to the assignments over the last two weeks to be sure that we are using them so as to provide the greatest benefit to customers.”

This is a list of where 40 extra buses have been deployed to alleviate Ottawa’s stressed bus system, according to OC Transpo.
This is a list of where 40 extra buses have been deployed to alleviate Ottawa’s stressed bus system, according to OC Transpo. City of Ottawa

A memo detailing where the buses have been put into service followed word from Mayor Jim Watson and transit commission chair Allan Hubley two weeks ago that the buses would be directed to routes “that have faced chronic issues” since a major service change on Oct. 6 that altered a number of bus routes and took 180 buses off the roads.

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Riders have since reported late or missed trips, overloaded buses and problematic connections with the Confederation Line and persistent problems with the train service have further stressed the bus network.

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On Friday, Manconi wrote that OC Transpo is assigning some buses “to stand by at key locations” so they can be dispatched to routes where regularly scheduled trips are missing or late.

According to the memo, other buses are providing “supplementary trips on routes that have had consistent reliability issues or that have had consistent reports or observations of crowding.” Another batch will offer extra trips from Tunney’s Pasture Station, a major transfer point at the western end of the Confederation Line, to the park-and-ride lots at Eagleson Station in Kanata and Fallowfield Station near Barrhaven, Manconi advised.

“We are continuing to monitor the use of these buses and their success in reducing waiting times and crowding,” he wrote. “Further adjustments may be made to these assignments through the remainder of the year.”

Politicians, media ride LRT trains ahead of Confederation Line’s handover to city
Politicians, media ride LRT trains ahead of Confederation Line’s handover to city

Manconi added that OC Transpo is also preparing new bus schedules for many routes ahead of another service change in January 2020, “also based on reports from customers and on operational data and observations.”

Details of those changes will be shared once staff have finished the schedules, Manconi said.

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READ MORE: OC Transpo can’t say when Ottawa’s LRT will be stable — ‘The system isn’t good enough yet’

The city’s draft budget for 2020 has earmarked $7.5 million in extra transit spending to improve bus service and reliability, which includes the cost of sustaining the extra 40 buses into next year.

But many councillors and public transit users have argued more needs to be done. Watson said he’s working with city staff to explore “all possible options” to improve transit service, including “the reinstatement of certain bus routes.”

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