Ottawa

Done with LRT, these commuters have found their own ways forward

After suffering through weeks of unreliable service, some Ottawa commuters have decided to abandon the city's transit system altogether and are instead finding their own way to work.

Cycling, carpooling, even walking — some commuters have given up on unreliable transit system

Sarah Burger had planned to catch the train to work every morning. Instead, she's now a member of Ottawa's small but growing community of winter cyclists. (Idil Mussa/CBC)

After suffering through weeks of unreliable service, some Ottawa commuters have decided to abandon the city's transit system altogether and are instead finding their own way to work.

The cyclist

Ottawa resident Sarah Burger was an early adopter of the Confederation Line, and planned to make LRT her main mode of transportation to and from her job. But thanks to the inconsistent service, Burger has instead decided to buy a bike built specifically for Ottawa's winter roads. 

"Every time I would arrive at Bayview station, all the trains were packed, or you could never really rely on the service," she said.

"I'm disappointed. I want the LRT to succeed because I think that's a great thing for Ottawa, but I don't really see an end in sight [to the delays] right now. So until then, I'll just keep riding my bike."

Ottawa resident Sarah Burger has taken up winter cycling in an attempt to avoid riding the LRT.  0:50

Burger, who is new to winter cycling, said she's much happier travelling by bike.

"I arrive to work and I'm actually in a good mood and not in a bad mood because I'm crammed like sardines on a train," she said.

The carpooler

Emilee Beauchamp lives in Stittsville and carpools whenever possible to avoid taking the train.

"My main issue with the LRT is the overcrowding. I'm not someone who likes big crowds," she said.

Like many commuters, Beauchamp has been forced on numerous occasions to complete her commute on foot. 

"I've walked from Pimisi because the train is like 17 minutes delayed," she said.

Beauchamp wants to carpool more, but she doesn't have a vehicle of her own. So she's created a "carpool resumé" to hand out to other commuters in hopes of arranging ride shares.

Emilee Beauchamp lives in Stittsville and has created a "carpool resume" in the hope of setting up a ride sharing routine. 0:56

"[I] put it together like an ad. It has my work schedule on there, has my phone number, my email for people who would like to carpool with me," she said. "My top likes, dislikes."

The trekker

Old Ottawa East resident Ashley Whiteside avoids public transit altogether by using her feet.

Every weekday morning, Whiteside trudges the 3.5 kilometres to Wellington Street to catch an STO bus to her office building in Gatineau. The trek takes about 40 minutes.

When the LRT launched, she would walk to Lees station — only 20 minutes from her home — and then hop on the train downtown to transfer.

Ashley Whiteside walks to Wellington Street from her home in Old Ottawa East to catch a bus to Gatineau.  1:00

Whiteside said she feels lucky she doesn't have to rely on OC Transpo these days.

"I've just been avoiding it," she said. "It's too big of a risk."

She realizes not everyone has that option.

"I really feel for the people that aren't as fortunate as I am, that can't walk to the bus they need to get to and ... have to take the train," she said.

The LRT has faced a host of problems since opening its gates in September, including slippery staircases, constant breakdowns and a cracked rail welding that led to a train slowdown last week. Whiteside said perhaps those problems could have been avoided had the city taken more time to ensure the system worked properly.

"Maybe just testing more before implementation, or running parallel buses for longer until the kinks are worked out, just so that everyone can get to work on time."

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