Ottawa LRT returns to service, free transit fares confirmed for December

Trains returned to ferry passengers along Ottawa’s light-rail transit system for the first time in 54 days on Friday as the city confirmed it expects full service by December and free fares for riders all month long.

Partial service featuring seven trains plus spares resumed at 5 a.m. on the Confederation Line Nov. 12 after the line got all of its safety approvals in place earlier this week.

Transportation Resources Associates (TRA), Ottawa’s hired rail advisers, told the city on Wednesday that Rideau Transit Group had checked all the boxes to make the LRT system safe for riders following the Sept. 19 derailment.

Additional trains will be cleared to return to the line over the course of the month, with the city expecting full service to resume by the end of November.

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While pre-pandemic service required 15 trains on the track during peak periods, the current ridership levels only require 11 trains to meet full-service demand, according to Ottawa transit general manager Renée Amilcar.

Amilcar confirmed in a memo to city council Friday afternoon that this timeline clears the way for a month of “unlimited no-charge transit” in December, a gesture to riders approved by city council in October.

All fare gates at LRT stations will be open for the entirety of December and fare boxes on OC Transpo buses will be taped over. All Para Transpo trips will be free as well.

Société de transport de l’Outaouais (STO) buses on the Gatineau side will not be offering free rides. Presto pass holders for the month of November and student U-Pass holders should still tap when they get on a bus, but they won’t be charged.

OC Transpo won’t be charging educational institutions that provide students with a U-Pass or preloaded Presto card for the month of December.

Most OC Transpo fares are proposed to rise 2.5 per cent on Jan. 1 as part of the draft 2022 budget.

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