Ottawa

Vanier residents frustrated by changes to OC Transpo bus route

Vanier residents say they are frustrated with changes OC Transpo is bringing to the popular route 12 bus next month.

Starting in September, the route 12 bus will no longer travel through downtown

Sam Boswell says she is upset about changes to OC Transpo's Route 12 that will come into effect in September. (Kimberley Molina/CBC News)

Vanier residents say they are frustrated with changes OC Transpo is bringing to the popular route 12 bus next month. 

​The bus normally runs from Blair station to Montreal Road and Rideau Street, then along Wellington Street and up Bank Street to Slater Street.

Starting Sept. 2, the bus will no longer go through the downtown core.

Instead, it will stop at Confederation Square, where the National War Memorial is located. 

To continue downtown, transit riders will have to get off at the Rideau Centre and transfer over to the LRT once that is in place, or get off the bus and walk. 

'It doesn't make any sense'

Sam Boswell has lived in Vanier for eight years and commutes downtown for work.

She said she's upset about the upcoming change to the bus route that's already plagued with problems such as delays and overcrowded or cancelled buses

"Once I have to take the train, I'm going to have to get off at the Rideau Centre, go downstairs, wait for the train, hope the train isn't packed, hope the train shows up when it's supposed to show up, get on the train, go four blocks, get off the train, go all the way upstairs and then walk to my office," she said.

"It's going to add 10 or 15 minutes at least to a one way trip."

This is the final straw in a whole series of failing the community.- Sam Boswell, Vanier resident

It will likely be inconvenient for her as an able bodied transit rider, but anyone travelling with children or in a wheelchair will be even more inconvenienced, she said. 

The change to route 12 is another incident of Vanier being treated unfairly, she suggested. 

"If this was the only thing OC Transpo had done to Vanier, I might be willing to be a bit more forgiving, but this is the final straw in a whole series of failing the community," Boswell said.

The "salt in the wound" was discovering OC Transpo is keeping route 6 as it is, going right down to Bank Street, she added. 

"So you're asking the marginalized, working poor neighbourhood to be inconvenienced, to take extra time to get to their destination," she said.

"You're not asking the wealthy neighbourhood that actually has high car ownership."

Vanier residents say they are frustrated the route 12 bus will end at the National War Memorial in September, and will no longer go through the downtown core. 0:52

Changes ahead of LRT

David Pepper, OC Transpo's manager of customer services, said the change will allow for more reliable bus service for Vanier residents.

He said sending the bus through the downtown core leads to delays.

"That bus will not have to go into the downtown area, along Wellington and Bank where currently it accumulates its longest delays because of other traffic and other travelling conditions," Pepper said.

"That sets off a chain of events that can often make the route become quite unreliable in its over 90 trips a day."

He admitted the change will make some trips longer, but said it could also make some trips shorter and that it ultimately will be an improvement to the route. 

David Pepper, manager of customer services at OC Transpo, said that although changes to route 12 might make some trips longer, it could make some shorter and will ultimately improve reliability. (CBC)

"The thing that will become more guaranteed for everyone is the reliability of the travel inside and outside of downtown," he said.

"The train will be more frequent, so that will save time, it will be more reliable and we won't have to compete with 300 buses an hour downtown."

OC Transpo is making the change now, Pepper said, so that riders can get used to it before light rail trains are on the track.

He added that OC Transpo is implementing route changes, like the one with route 12, in a "measured and planned way" leading up to when the LRT is scheduled to open later this year. 

Overlooked community

Trevor Haché​, who lived in Vanier when he first moved to Ottawa and is vice president of the Healthy Transportation Coalition, echoed Boswell's suggestion that OC Transpo isn't properly serving Vanier residents. 

"Vanier has been totally overlooked with regards to the light rail transit system," Haché said. 

"The light rail stations, none of them are going to be located in Vanier. The bus service in Vanier is already really bad."

Route 12 runs from Blair station to Slater Street for the next few weeks, when it will be shortened to end near the National War Memorial. (CBC)

A lot of the city's plans when light rail comes into effect is to have buses end at light rail stations, but a lot of people are relying on those bus routes to take them further, he said. 

"Unfortunately it seems like a lot of concerns are falling on deaf ears."

Keep route the same, says city councillor

Coun. Mathieu Fleury told CBC that although the back to school period often means changes to bus routes, the changes coming to this bus route in his ward was surprising. 

Coun. Mathieu Fleury says he has asked OC Transpo to return bus number 12 to its original route. (CBC)

"We were surprised … by the fact that it didn't go past the Rideau Centre. It's such an important corridor for us along Montreal Road and Rideau Street where a lot of the users go into Centretown," he said. 

"We're asking OC Transpo to [keep] to the existing route of the 12 and not to shorten it, to stop at the Rideau Centre, so that residents don't need to do a transfer at the Rideau Centre."

Fleury added that he's in contact with OC Transpo's director and expects an answer later this week.