Ottawa

Seniors step up fight to save bus route

Changes to the route are not well supported by the seniors group that said an alternative route, which includes a 20-minute walk to the stop complete with a hill, was not feasible.

Changes to the route are not well supported by the seniors group that said an alternative route, which includes a 20-minute walk to the stop complete with a hill, was not feasible.

A group of seniors is protesting planned changes to their bus route. ((CBC))

Armed with florescent signs, walkers and canes dozens of seniors swarmed the bus stop in front of their apartment building on McEwan Avenue, in protest over the planned cancellation of route 156.

The group members, who say they have the endurance to keep up the fight, contend the bus is their only mode of transportation around the city.

"We want to be independent. We don't want our family to have to drive us all over town," said Dianne Scrivens. "Besides they have families."

And Claire Lafontaine feels betrayed by the bus company who they have relied upon for years and have helped build up the ridership.

"Very cruel because we earned all these services," she said. "We helped them have these systems going. And we're not reaping what we sowed."

The changes are part of the bus company's plans to save more than $22 million a year. The plan, which was unveiled in the spring, affects some 100 bus routes.

Included in the re-design is a plan that would merge about 80 different bus runs, as well as shorten 20 others and cut some hours of service.

The idea behind the bus network overhaul is to lower expenses while still transporting the same number of customers.

While the 156 bus is being cancelled, OC Transpo said it will provide reduced service every couple of hours on the street. For those who cannot wait they must make a 20-minute walk up a hill to Richmond Road.

But people like David Harrison worry about their social lives.

"The last bus is at quarter to 7 in the evening; that's like curfew. Are we teenagers? Be good boys and girls; be back at quarter to seven. That's demeaning. It's downright degrading."  

But the city says the changes have been approved by council and the consultation process is over. The changes are expected to come into effect Sept. 4.