345 OC Transpo drivers will get layoff notices by Aug. 3
Affected drivers will keep working until Dec. 1 as city prepares to roll out Confederation Line
OC Transpo is planning to issue layoff notices to hundreds of bus drivers this week and next as part of the shift to light rail through downtown Ottawa.
The transit service will give notice to 345 drivers by Aug. 3, and their jobs will be terminated by December.
Two years ago OC Transpo said it would be taking 170 to 180 buses off the road once the Confederation Line is up and running, meaning 500 to 600 fewer drivers would be needed.
"The union has been very open to mitigative strategies like holding on to vacancies when people were retiring," explained transportation manager John Manconi.
"That's really helped us in terms of the brunt of the reduction in the number of people impacted."
The city said one light rail train carries as many passengers as eight articulated buses.
'Doesn't make it any easier'
OC Transpo hired hundreds of new drivers during Confederation Line construction to staff buses along detour routes. Those drivers were informed from the start that their jobs would likely be cut when the system starts running.
"They knew this was coming but it doesn't make it any easier," Manconi said.
A memo from Manconi to the mayor and council said supports will be in place for affected drivers.
"OC Transpo is committed to providing its employees with tools and resources throughout this difficult period and has developed a comprehensive plan for the workforce adjustment program to ensure the appropriate supports are in place for employees," the memo reads.
The contractor on the LRT project, Rideau Transit Group (RTG), is supposed to finish the system and hand it over to the city by Nov. 2, and the city hopes it will be in service later that month. The affected bus drivers' last day of work will be Dec. 1.
Manconi would not say if the layoffs are a sign that the contractor will meet its November deadline.
"We're forging ahead according to plan," he said. "If for some reason that has to slip a bit we will obviously adjust."
If the line is delayed, Manconi said OC Transpo will work with the drivers' union to staff the routes until it's running.