The City of Gatineau is bringing back elements of its old public transit system less than a year after the launch of the $255-million Rapibus lanes that had promised to speed up commute times.
Riders have complained of delays, and now a report by the Société de transport de l'Outaouais suggests that commute times from some neighbourhoods have increased by up to 18 minutes.
Safety has also been an issue since the October 2013 introduction of new fast lanes that run through the centre of Gatineau. More than a dozen buses have been involved in crashes on Rapibus routes, including an April rush hour crash that sent 17 people to hospital.
Councillor Gilles Carpentier said more bus routes will be added to improve commute times, and some cancelled routes could be reinstated by the end of May. He asked commuters to be patient, pointing out that Ottawa also had a learning curve at the outset of the Transitway.
"I agree that it's not working as promised yet," he said. "One has also to remember that our neighbours, when they introduced the Transitway, they took a little over a year to stabilize the Transitway," he said.
The city plans to hold a series of focus groups to seek input from riders.
Commuter François Lessard said he is frustrated with the troubled project.
"They are going back to square one," he said. "With a lot of money pumped in that project, millions and millions of dollars, for something that is not working perfectly. Unacceptable."
Lessard said he used to have a 50-minute commute to work on an express bus from his neighbourhood of Pointe-Gatineau. The route was cancelled when the Rapibus was launched, bumping his commute up to nearly three hours, he said.
After commuters complained, a bus was reinstated along part of the old route. Even so, Lessard says it still takes him about two-and-a-half hours to get to work.