OC Transpo's No. 95 workhorse to ride off into the night

The No. 95 bus, OC Transpo's busiest route that has carried residents through the city and through the decades, will be retired in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Route number will be retired on Oct. 6 after 4 decades in service

A No. 95 bus waits for the light to change on Albert Street on Oct. 3, 2019. OC Transpo will be retiring the route's number Sunday as it introduces major changes to Ottawa's bus network. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

OC Transpo's busy No. 95 bus route, which has carried riders through the city and through the decades, will see its number retired in the early hours of Sunday morning.

It may not always be on time, can be packed and sometimes even smelly, but many residents can't help but be nostalgic as the crosstown route of Ottawa's bus era relinquishes its job to the light rail line on Oct. 6.

Riders suggest tribute

Since it launched in 1980, the No. 95 has been extended many times and now runs from the Trim Road park-and-ride lot in Orléans, through downtown, all the way to the Minto Recreation Complex in Barrhaven. 

The route has been the muse for at least three songs, but riders think it needs another tribute. 

Gianmarco Maggiore was waiting for it at its eastern starting point this week to get to university, and says he has ridden the route his whole life.

"It's kind of sad. It would be nice if they retired the number and no other bus could take the 95, like when a [sports] player retires."

Laura Shantz wants to see it raised to the rafters, too. She's grateful to the many drivers who spent hours behind the wheel.

"I've never had a car and they really were my personal chauffeurs for a lot of years and I really appreciate that."

Leiper's life line

Coun. Jeff Leiper, for one, plans to be on that last run in the wee hours of Sunday morning to see the No. 95 travel over the Mackenzie King Bridge one last time.

"It's served all of the destinations that have kind of defined my life," he explained. "The 95 was the bus that took us as teenagers from sleepy, suburban Orléans down to exciting downtown." 

Later, Leiper rode the No. 95 to jobs as a young man, ran to catch it after late-night dancing in Hull, and used it to take his toddler to child care or a packed trip to Canada Day celebrations.

But Ottawa has outgrown the time when it could serve residents only with crosstown buses, and he's excited for the age of light rail. Still, he sees the end of an era.

"All of us used it. It was the bus that really served Generation X. I'm sorry to see it go," he said.