Monday morning a tale of 2 commutes in Ottawa

Suburban commuters reported a bumpy bus ride followed by a relatively smooth train journey Monday morning, as what's being called the biggest service change in OC Transpo's history came into effect.

LRT garners positive reviews, but bus changes leave passengers fuming

Busy platforms and packed buses were two sources of frustration for commuters getting used to what's being called the biggest service change in OC Transpo's history. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

The wheels on the buses had barely started rolling Monday morning when the complaints started rolling in, too.

It was the first "real" test of Ottawa's new transit reality, when parallel bus routes that have been running since the LRT launch last month suddenly stopped short of downtown, forcing commuters to transfer onto trains whether they wanted to or not.

On this, the first morning commute under the new system, passengers let loose with stories of woe, including long waits for buses so packed that some just whizzed by crowded suburban stops without slowing.

"It was horrible, absolutely terrible. I come from Orléans. They had like three times as many people on the bus. [It was] so crowded [you] can't even think, can't even walk," said Sonya Rawlings, who was waiting for the LRT at Blair station Monday morning. 

"It totally sucks. I absolutely hate it."

People also voiced their displeasure on social media.


Kanata resident Rachel Sinnett used to take a single bus to her downtwon office. On Monday, she had to get off at Tunney's Pasture, then take the train the rest of the way to Parliament station.

She said the second part of the journey went better than the first.

"Two of my busses didn't show. But when it did, I got here fairly quickly."

Sinnett said the switch has added about 10 minutes to her morning commute, including a longer walk from the LRT station to her building.

It's easy. I love it.- Gerri-Gail Stojanowski

Nancy Yakibchuk, who commutes from her home in Orléans, believes the Confederation Line is fine for people living closer to the downtown core, but a serious disadvantage for suburban commuters like her.

"It's  good for the city, for the people who are locally here, but when you're outskirts, I still [have to travel] my inner neighbourhood before I even get to Blair [station], and then from Blair, get off and take the whole train and then walk further to get to my office," Yakibchuk said.

"Usually I would get my bus to downtown [in] 35 minutes. Now we're almost 45 [minutes] and I still haven't arrived at work yet."

People wait for the train at Tunney's Pasture station during the morning commute on Oct. 7, 2019. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Not all bad

Others found their commute significantly improved Monday.

"It used to take me about an hour and a half to get home, taking three buses, transferring, and with all the delays sometimes it would take even longer, especially during rush hour," said Joshua McCormick.

"But with the train, I mean, you escape all that downtown traffic." 

McCormick said his trip has now been reduced by about 20 minutes.

"It's easy. I love it," said Gerri-Gail Stojanowski, who travelled from her home near the Queensway-Carleton Hospital in Nepean to the city's core.

"It just went so smooth," said Mary Gratton. "It was just awesome."

With files from Audrey Roy and Jean-François Poudrier