'We need concrete actions': Councillor calls for audit of post-LRT bus service

Laura Dudas wants the city to conduct a comprehensive review of OC Transpo bus service and scheduling, saying it's become unreliable since the launch of light rail a little more than a month ago.

Laura Dudas says bus service needs to improve

Innes Coun. Laura Dudas says she'll be calling on city staff to investigate the 'inadequacies' of Ottawa's bus system that have arisen since the debut of the Confederation LRT line. (Stu Mills/CBC)

An east-end councillor is calling on the city to conduct a comprehensive review of OC Transpo bus service and scheduling, saying it's become unreliable since the launch of light rail a little more than a month ago.

Innes Coun. Laura Dudas says since the Confederation LRT line opened, residents have been complaining that buses show up too infrequently, too crowded or not at all.

She said users of east-end routes like 228, 225, 25, 34 and 30 have all reported problems.

"What we need now is not any more promises. We need to see concrete actions as to how we're going to start improving this reliability," she said.

Dudas catches a bus from her home in the Blackburn Hamlet area before transferring to LRT at Blair station.

"I've been experiencing the same thing that all my residents have as well. [The bus] doesn't always show. When the buses come, they're packed. We need to start addressing it," she said.

Marcela Soto and her daughter wait for a bus to pick them up in Blackburn Hamlet. They complain there are too few buses. (Stu Mills/CBC)

Wants review of 'inadequacies'

That's why at Wednesday's council meeting, Dudas intends to call on staff to launch an "inquiry" into what she called the "inadequacies of the OC Transpo bus system since the launch of LRT Stage 1."

Dudas said she won't put a time limit on the investigation, but will leave its scope to staff. Her inquiry will direct them to investigate what needs to be done and how much it would cost to ensure that buses arrive as scheduled — and that delays are communicated when they cannot.

She also wants OC Transpo to determine how to reduce the number of cancelled trips.

Marley Allen said since the launch of LRT, he's been stranded at Place D'Orleans because of poor bus service. (Stu Mills/CBC)

Complaints from riders

Waiting with her daughter for a bus in Blackburn Hamlet, Marcela Soto was blunt about the changes that have occurred since the arrival of LRT.

"[It's] terrible now," she said.

While she used to wait 15 minutes for a ride west, Soto said she now routinely waits 30. She thinks the problem is there are too few buses on the roads.

I need more frequent buses coming here.​​​​​- Marley Allen, transit user

At Blair station, student Michelle Bergeron said that while she enjoys riding LRT to the University of Ottawa, the bus ride from her east-end home into Blair is getting a failing grade.

"I have a midterm [today]," she said recently. "And I'm trying to get my mom to drive me to Blair so that I don't have to rely on the bus to get here, because it kind of scares me."

Telecommunications worker Marley Allen complained that since LRT service launched, he's been left stranded at Place D'Orleans.

"The frequency of the train is pretty good," he said. "But in terms of actually getting here to get to the train, I need more frequent buses coming here."

Michelle Bergeron (right) is a student at the University of Ottawa. She said she had her mother drop her off at the Blair LRT station before she took the train to campus, as she couldn't rely on the bus getting her to the train station on time. (Stu Mills/CBC)

3 million LRT rides

It's not clear what Dudas's call will prompt OC Transpo staff to do that they hadn't already planned.

Last week, OC Transpo announced the new light rail line had seen its three millionth ride since launching in mid-September.

A memo from John Manconi, the city's general manager of transportation, said staff were collecting data and feedback and would "continue to assess what adjustments need to be made in order to meet the needs of our customers."

 Manconi also said bus service adjustments would form part of this review.


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