OC Transpo adjusting previously cut routes after LRT delayed

OC Transpo is expected to announce changes to several bus routes this week in an attempt to cover service gaps that were introduced in anticipation of the LRT's since-delayed debut this fall.

Passengers on some routes had complained of less accessibility, convenience

OC Transpo's Route 11 will operate select buses to Mackenzie King station, a decision made after an announcement that the LRT won't open until early 2019. (CBC)

OC Transpo is expected to announce changes to several bus routes this week in an attempt to cover service gaps that were introduced in anticipation of the LRT's since-delayed debut this fall.

Twenty four routes were altered in September to bring passengers to LRT stations rather than shopping or downtown destinations.

On many routes, this meant the final stop was located well short of previous endpoints like Bayshore station, the Rideau Centre, and Hurdman station.

But after an announcement that the Rideau Transit Group (RTG) would miss its November 2018 LRT deadline, pushing the opening of the system back into early 2019, Coun. Tobi Nussbaum said many of those changes became less helpful. 

"A lot of those original route changes don't make a lot of sense and actually inconvenience riders to a large extent," he said.

A spokesperson from the transit agency was not available for comment on Monday. 

New route to Bayshore

Route 11 used to run between the downtown Rideau Centre and the Bayshore Shopping Centre in the west part of the city.

After changes came into force in September, buses began dropping passengers off at Elgin and Queen streets downtown, just a few blocks short of the Rideau Centre. 

The west end of the route was also cut, with riders being dropped at Lincoln Fields station rather than Bayshore station.

The changes to route 11 hit Bay ward and its large percentage of elderly residents especially hard, said Coun. Mark Taylor.

"We came across a lot of people who said transferring at Lincoln Fields is going to be really challenging for [them], particularly in the winter months," he said.

"Clearly there was a service gap that had been created there."

Mark Taylor represents Bay Ward, which no longer gets as much route 11 service as it used to. (CBC)

Under the altered route, select eastbound trips from Monday to Friday will also be extended to Mackenzie King station in order to get passengers directly to the Rideau Centre.

Though the western part of the route won't be restored, the transit agency is expected to announce changes to route 153, which currently runs between Lincoln Fields station and the Carlingwood Shopping Centre.

It is expected to merge with route 151 to offer service on select buses between Tunney's Pasture and Bayshore stations.

"This is a small section of route, but it's a mighty change for some people who are mobility impaired or mobility restricted," Taylor said. 

Route 12 extended

Route 12 was also altered earlier this fall, with buses no longer continuing into the downtown core in a move OC Transpo said would help ease congestion.

After passenger backlash, the route was extended slightly to end at Queen and Metcalfe streets.

With the latest changes, select westbound trips during morning rush hour from Monday to Friday will be extended even further to end at Albert and Bank streets, offering better connections to other routes and a closer dropoff to many downtown locations.

Carolyn Lecorre, a member of the Ottawa Transit Users Group, said she's pleased that OC Transpo has extended the route during select times, but said much more needs to be done. 

"Already in the morning during rush hour, the 12 is not that reliable," she said. 

"We're not sure if that's really addressing one of the biggest problems, which is reliability of the bus."

Nussbaum said the 12 does have historic reliability issues but the arrival of the LRT should fix many of those problems. 

"What OC Transpo is saying is LRT won't just have a positive impact on those that are using the LRT but will have a positive knock-on effect on bus reliability," he said.

"So that's something that we're all counting on."