Bus 'tweaks' possible in wake of LRT delay
Still no new deadline for completion of $2.1B light rail system
OC Transpo will look at "tweaking" about a dozen bus routes that were altered in anticipation of a 2018 LRT launch, some of which now stop blocks short of major downtown destinations, transit boss John Manconi said Wednesday morning.
More than two dozen bus routes were changed in recent weeks to integrate with the light rail system, which was supposed to be up and running before the end of the year. Most of the changes were designed to deliver passengers to LRT transfer points rather than final destinations.
But last week, Manconi announced Rideau Transit Group (RTG) — the consortium building the light rail system — would not meet its completion deadline of Nov. 2.
It appears there's still no firm completion date for the $2.1-billion project.
Given that uncertainty, councillors and the public have asked for bus routes to be improved or even restored.
But it might not be that simple: Manconi said route changes on this scale take many months to plan because of interconnections and driver schedules.
"You'd have to untangle a whole maze of routes," he said Wednesday.
Nevertheless, Manconi said transit staff might be able to make a few simple changes in relatively short order.
For example, Routes 11 and 12 might be extended by a stop or two to end in more convenient locations for riders.
"Our No. 1 goal is to take care of our customers, we know they're going through a lot of pain, we thank them for their patience," Manconi said. "We know it's a tough sell to say LRT is coming. I continue to be optimistic about the system we're going to have when it's up and running, but I want to acknowledge that they're going through a lot and I thank them."
Councillors gauge mood
Four urban city councillors boarded OC Transpo buses Wednesday morning to hear directly from riders affected by the recent route changes.
Couns. Tobi Nussbaum (Rideau-Rockcliffe) and Mathieu Fleury (Rideau-Vanier) boarded a downtown-bound Route 12 bus in the east end, while Couns. Catherine McKenney (Somerset) and Jeff Leiper (Kitchissippi) rode in on a Route 11 from the west.
Until that train is up and running, let's get people to where they're trying to go.- Coun. Jeff Leiper
"Tobi, Catherine, Jeff and I regularly receive complaints about the 11 and 12 specifically. We're hearing it loud and clear," Fleury said.
Fleury believes there's a case to be made for returning the westbound 12 to its original final destination of Bank and Slater streets. This would be especially helpful for passengers with mobility issues who will be forced to travel several blocks through to make certain connections.
There's a similar problem with the eastbound 11, Leiper said.
"We're going to be dumping people [at Confederation Square], having to make them walk to the Rideau Centre through the slush and the freezing rain and the snow.... That's not acceptable," Leiper said. "Until that train is up and running, let's get people to where they're trying to go."
"We were able to talk to few people on the bus who definitely have been affected by the changes and aren't happy," McKenney said. "This is an extra walk to get to the Rideau Centre. It's still nice but people know the bad weather is coming and they're worried about it."
Sam Boswell, who recently formed Ottawa Transit Riders' Group on Twitter, rode the Route 12 downtown Wednesday morning.
"Where it stops doesn't make any sense. It doesn't connect to anything. A lot of the 11 and 12 riders use wheelchairs and walkers. The whole thing is just a mess," Boswell said.
"Right now we have a city that views OC Transpo as a business. There's a mentality change that needs to happen. OC Transpo needs to be viewed as a service, something that people can rely on."