Fewer buses to Sens games amid dwindling demand

The city is running fewer buses to the Canadian Tire Centre for Ottawa Senators games after a ridership review found the number of fans taking transit isn't supporting the service.

The city is running 7 fewer buses to the Canadian Tire Centre for home games

The number of 400-series buses serving Ottawa Senators home games has been reduced after a review of the ridership. (Laura Osman/CBC)

The city is running fewer buses to the Canadian Tire Centre for Ottawa Senators games after a ridership review found the number of fans taking transit isn't supporting the service.

OC Transpo reduced the number of 400 series buses from 26 trips to 19 per game, starting last night.

Routes 403, 404 and 405 are all offering fewer rides.

Fans on the buses to and from the game against New Jersey Tuesday supported OC Transpo's decision.

While some 400-series buses were standing room only for the 45-minute ride, others arrived at the Canadian Tire Centre before the game with as few as 10 people on board.

"The buses are not getting packed," said Julian Cote.

"Reduce the buses even more, it doesn't matter."

Sens fan Andrew Williams and his family attend 20 games a year and always take the bus, but lately they've been sharing the ride with less than a dozen other passengers.

"It is definitely a lower attendance at the games, it's quite noticeable," he said.

Ottawa Senators fan Andrew Williams, left, attends 20 games a year and always takes OC Transpo. (Laura Osman/CBC)

It's possible taking a car and parking at the arena is getting easier with fewer people, not to mention cheaper with a price cut in some lots, but Williams said the empty buses are most likely a symptom of dwindling attendance.   

The Sens are currently 27th in the 31-team league in attendance, averaging just over 14,100 fans a game, and have the fewest average number of fans among Canadian teams.

They've topped 17,000 fans once in their nine home games. Last night's official attendance was about 12,500.

The team doesn't pay into the service, which runs from all major transit stations to the Canadian Tire Centre during major events.

Instead the costs are covered by property taxes and transit fares.

More buses for big games

Several bars have noticed less demand for their shuttle services to the games as well.

The Lieutenant's Pump on Elgin Street offers a round-trip bus ride to every home game, but this year the bar hasn't been selling as many tickets.

"Those people going are enthusiastic, but traffic is down [compared to] last year for sure," said owner John Couse.

OC Transpo still plans to run a full slate of buses for games when significantly higher attendance is expected, according to an emailed statement from Pat Scrimgeour, the director of transit planning.

The Ottawa Senators did not immediately respond to CBC's request for comment.