Ottawa

OC Transpo overcrowding causing rider injuries

An Ottawa city councillor says he's been receiving emails from OC Transpo riders complaining of crowded conditions and even injuries since bus routes were reduced or cancelled in September.

An Ottawa city councillor says he's been receiving emails from OC Transpo riders complaining of crowded conditions and even injuries since bus routes were reduced or cancelled in September. 

Rainer Bloess, who is also member of the transit commission, said he's received messages about people hurt or passing out on the packed buses.

"The problem is when riders get to the bus stop...they get herded on like cattle," he said.  

Changes to OC Transpo routes brought in last month are meant to save $20 million. (CBC)

Bloess said he is advocating for increases in capacity and frequency.

"My fear is any time someone gets hurt or injured, we have a liability and we have to be conscious of that," he said. "And if we're providing a service that has a risk of injury, we have to provide a better service."

One of the emails Bloess received came from the mother of Joyana Borg, who rode the Route 94 bus most weekdays for two years from her house in Orleans to her classes at the University of Ottawa.

That changed two weeks ago after some overcrowded rides and, finally, an injury while standing near the driver inside the bus's front door. "The driver opened the door on my foot, which sent excruciating pain through me. I had to then ask him to move the door off my foot. As he did that, it tore the skin off my foot."

She says she realized her injury was minor, but that it could have been worse. "I couldn't turn around, you can't move, you're stuck where you are. I think it could easily happen to someone else."

The cutbacks to OC Transpo routes were made to save about $20 million from the city budget. The implementation of the bus-route changes in early September was the largest single change in OC Transpo's history.

OC Transpo has said the changes make for a more efficient service, but Bloess said the city has gone well beyond "optimization" and into "overload mode."