Ottawa transit rider group wants old schedule back

It's urging OC Transpo to go back to its regular schedule because of the fear of crowded buses in the time of physical distancing.

Advocates say route cuts make buses too crowded

Oc Transpo adjusted bus routes on March 30. (David Richard/CBC)

An Ottawa transit rider group is urging OC Transpo to go back to its pre-pandemic schedule because of the fear of crowded buses in the time of physical distancing.

Bus schedules were modified late last month due to very low ridership in the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing most routes to a Saturday schedule every day but Sunday. 

But John Redins with Ottawa Transit Riders, which speaks out about issues and improvements with the service, said that's not working.

"There's been occasions that there have been more people in the bus, especially during the rush hours, forcing people to not even get on the bus," Redins said 

"There was one [Sunday] in Nepean I saw that a medical professional refused to get on the bus because there were too many people. This person was trying to get to work."

Others have raised similar points.

Redins would like to see a return to the regular schedule to get more buses on the road and allow better physical distancing.

"They're going to say the cost is too high. What's the cost to human life?" he said. "You're putting operators and passengers at risk."

Four OC Transpo employees have tested positive: two bus drivers, a Confederation Line red vest worker and a special constable.

City will monitor routes

In a statement Monday afternoon, Pat Scrimgeour, the city's director of transit customer systems and planning, said service on some routes had already been increased, with the most recent changes implemented April 10.

Scrimgeour said the transit agency was "listening to feedback from customers and operators."

"We will be prioritizing changes that keep sufficient space available on buses and changes that address travel needs to essential services," he said.

A city spokesperson also pointed to a March 29 memo to council and the transit commission.

In it, the city's transportation general manager John Manconi said the city will continue to monitor routes and add extra buses if needed

About the Author

Natalia is a multi-platform journalist in Ottawa. She has also worked for CBC in P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador.

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