Ottawa

OC Transpo announces free bus, Para Transpo service downtown

OC Transpo is offering free rides to commuters on select routes for at least the next month after their lives were disrupted by the weeks-long occupation in Ottawa's downtown.

15 downtown bus routes free of charge starting Sunday

An OC Transpo bus pulls up in front of Parliament station on Queen Street last December, before downtown protesters forced routes to go on detour. Fares for 15 downtown routes will be free for at least the next month, OC Transpo says. (Joseph Tunney/CBC)

OC Transpo is offering free rides to commuters on select routes for at least the next month after their lives were disrupted by the weeks-long occupation in Ottawa's downtown.

Fifteen bus routes serving downtown Ottawa — and all Para Transpo trips to or from the Rideau-Vanier and Somerset wards — are now free. 

This no-charge service will be in effect until 30 days after the state of emergency is lifted, according to an OC Transpo news release.

For more than three weeks, protesters caused major traffic disruptions, forcing OC Transpo to divert all bus routes out of the downtown and direct passengers to LRT stations. 

Then on Friday, OC Transpo shut down the LRT network in the downtown core as police brought the occupation to an end.

Light rail will resume running along the full length of the Confederation Line Monday morning, transit services general manager Renée Amilcar said Sunday night in a memo to city council.

But Ottawa police still have to give the all-clear before riders will have access to their normal downtown bus routes, said Coun. Allan Hubley, chair of the city's transit commission.

"We understand [it's] a disrupter in their daily lives, and we're hoping that that is all going to end early this week, if possible," he told CBC Sunday afternoon.

The protests in downtown Ottawa forced all buses to detour out of the downtown core, which has affected downtown residents who commute using public transit. (Michael Cole/CBC)

Brynn Vincent relies on the transit service and was one of many commuters whose lives were disrupted by the protests.

She said her daughter missed three days of school. 

"I would have liked to have sent her and wasn't able to because the OC Transpo buses weren't running," she said, adding she's happy her routes will be free for at least the next month. 

Which OC Transpo routes are free? 

Commuters can ride the following bus routes without paying fares: 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 55, 56, 85 and 114.

Anyone boarding these routes will not receive a printed transfer, OC Transpo said. 

Fares will still be required at pedestrian entrances to the fare-paid zones at Greenboro, Tunney's Pasture, Hurdman and Blair stations.

Customers transferring to bus routes outside of the 15 downtown ones, the Confederation Line or Gatineau's transit network will need to pay the regular fare.

OC Transpo is also advising regular users of the 15 routes to skip buying a monthly pass for March or to cancel their auto renew pass for the month. 

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