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OC Transpo cutting some 200-series routes, redirecting buses off residential streets

OC Transpo is cutting many 200-series routes between residential neighbourhoods and O-Train stations and redirecting buses off residential streets with low ridership as part of a move to adjust service to current ridership levels and boost service to 15 minutes on “many important routes” across the city of Ottawa.

In January, the transit service launched a Bus Route Review to address changes to transit use and travel patterns since the COVID-19 pandemic and to prepare for the launch of the O-Train Trillium Line in 2024. The review comes as OC Transpo is projecting a $40.8 million deficit in 2023 and a $35 million revenue shortfall for 2024.

The OC Transpo Bus Route Review report for the Nov. 14 Transit Commission meeting outlines several changes that will be made in the months ahead, including replacing many of the Connexion routes (200 series), redirecting service away from streets with low ridership, increasing service to 15 minutes “at most times” on many “important routes” and improved connections to the Trillium Line.

“Changes help ensure that a sustainable bus route network is available, with a reliable target of 99.5 per cent,” says the report from Transit Services General Manager Renee Amilcar.

However, Amilcar warns that once the changes from the bus route review are implemented, “it is anticipated that some customers will experience a range of impacts to their transit trips.”

“Many customers will have no substantial change to the trips they make day to day and the overall reliability of the system will see improvements.”

OC Transpo does not say when the changes to routes will be implemented, but staff say it will communicate changes to the bus route network “over several months to increase customer understanding and awareness.”

The report says once the new bus route network is implemented, customers will see:

  • Many Connexion routes (200-series) replaced by other routes. Rapid transit routes on the Transitway will continue
  • More frequent service on many important routes in all parts of the city, with 15-minute service at most times.
  • Improved connections to O-Train Line 2 and Line 4 (The Trillium Line)
  • Improved connections between and to community hubs: More connections to commercial and employment areas, especially newer shopping areas.
  • Redirecting service away from some streets. “Streets with low ridership or that are close to other streets where service will continue,” the report says.

Amilcar says in the report that the new bus route network will provide customers with “more frequent service on some major bus routes. Improved to 15-minute service.”  OC Transpo says there will also be more connections to community hubs and transit stations and faster trips for some customers, “taking advantage of O-Train Line 2.”

OC Transpo says the following Connexion Routes will be removed, with nearby service provided by other routes: 232, 236, 252, 257, 258, 265, 267, 268, 270, 271, 273, 278, 282, 290 and 291.

Staff say reallocating surplus capacity on 200-series downtown-oriented Connexion routes will help add frequency to some major bus routes. 

The route review proposes changes to dozens of other routes, including removing limited service on some routes. Some new weekday peak period routes will also be introduced.  A full list of changes to the route is available on the city of Ottawa’s website. 

The OC Transpo Bus Route Review is one of the strategic priorities within the “Our Service” pillar of the five-year OC Transpo roadmap. OC Transpo engaged Dillion Consulting as part of the review.

“Within that pillar, OC Transpo commits to stabilizing our service delivery and increasing reliability by reviewing our transit routes and managing operations through data and KPIs,” the report says.

Staff say for the network redesign, Dillon Consulting and the city focused on five goals:

  1. Sustainable Transit: prioritizing a mode shift to sustainable modes including all day service
  2. Access to Transit: fast and frequent service along main transit corridors.
  3. Connected Transit: Ensuring strong connectivity to encourage a shift away from driving as people outside of the urban centre will also rely on transit and good active transportation connections.
  4. Equitable Transit: Enabling easier trip chains between multiple destinations and providing access to more local amenities. Bus routes serving all parts of the urban area and linking to all major destination provide mobility for all.
  5. Complete Communities: Supporting the City’s plans for 15-minute neighbourhoods where most daily amenities are provided locally so that people are able to accomplish most daily tasks without needing to drive.

There is no word on when the new route changes will be implemented.  The report notes the general manager of Transit Services has delegated authority to make adjustments to bus and O-Train service in response to operation needs and requirements.

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