Throughout the pandemic, OC Transpo has adapted to maintain safe and regular service for Ottawa residents. They have added safety measures including mandatory masks in all vehicles, stations, and shelters. They have also enhanced cleaning procedures on all buses, trains, and stations. Furthermore, they’ve installed barrier shields for operators, hand sanitization stations, and touch-free fare payment.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a fluctuation of OC Transpo ridership. In the fall of 2020, OC Transpo reached 30% of normal levels. In January 2021, the provincial stay-at-home order resulted in a drop to 18% of normal pre-pandemic levels. As of February 2021, ridership has risen to 21% of normal pre-pandemic levels. Based on these current ridership counts, and recommendations received from customers, employers, City Councillors, and staff, various service adjustments have been suggested. These will be implemented on Sunday, June 20th, 2021 to match connectivity and capacity requirements of current travel needs in our city.
What does this mean for Kanata North?
There will be a temporary suspension of selected peak-period routes with low ridership and where there are other nearby services.
- I am disappointed to report that beginning in June 2021, Route 266 from Kanata North to Tunney’s Pasture Station will be temporarily suspended.
- Alternatively, customers can use Routes 63 and 64 to connect to Tunney’s Pasture Station.
- A review of ridership data from the Winter 2020 booking up to March 6th (pre COVID-19) and Fall 2020 booking (ridership affected by ongoing COVID-19 pandemic) found that ridership on this route is currently at 11% of pre-pandemic levels, with approximately three boardings per trip.
- OC Transpo staff will continue to monitor the ridership levels on all routes, and as peak period ridership from Kanata North begins to recover to closer to normal levels, service on Route 266 will be gradually reinstated.
As of Sunday, June 20th, 2021, there will be a reduction of frequency on certain routes to better match actual current ridership levels.
- Service on Connexion Routes 264 & 268 will be reduced to every 30 minutes.
- During peak periods, Monday to Friday, service will be reduced on Local Route 66. Service will continue to be provided every 15 minutes. Also, during peak periods, service will be reduced to every 30 minutes on extensions to Gatineau of Rapid Route 63.
- Local Route 164 will be reduced from every 30 minutes to every hour.
Some routes are being shortened where parallel service is available, but there are no Kanata North routes being shortened at this time.
While ridership has declined the most on routes used by customers primarily travelling from suburban areas to end points downtown, ridership on routes serving hospitals and shopping areas has remained higher at approximately 80% of normal levels. In order to respond to current travel needs, service improvements have been planned for the following routes:
- Route 62 will have more frequent and later evening service and new Saturday and Sunday service to Kanata and Stittsville. The planned service adjustments mean that all of the weekday evening, Saturday, and Sunday trips on Route 62 that currently start or end at Terry Fox Station will be extended to Stittsville via Tanger Outlets along the same path as Route 162. Additionally, the frequency of Route 62 will be improved to every 30 minutes at the times when it currently operates every 60 minutes, and these new trips will serve Tanger and Stittsville. The overall result of this service plan is an increased number of trips serving Tanger Outlets compared to today, with improved connections from Stittsville and Tunney’s Pasture Station.
- New Route 110 between Kanata North, Kanata South and Barrhaven will serve the Kanata North technology park, Hazeldean Mall, and Citigate Mall and connect with Rapid Routes at Innovation, Teron, Eagleson, and Fallowfield Stations. This service will run every 30 minutes from Monday to Friday and at selected times on weekends. Weekend service will begin on September 5th, 2021. Below is a map of Route 110.
These service adjustments will result in approximately $5.5M of cost savings in 2021 and potentially $11M of savings in 2022, should ridership remain consistent.
Full details of the schedule changes and adjustments will be available on the OC Transpo website and will be communicated to customers through signage, electronic materials, and in-person customer outreach at stations. Once the measures have been implemented, you will be able to find up-to-date schedules and real-time information as normal. I will also continue to provide updates when they are available.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have heard from many residents who were concerned about seeing seemingly empty buses. The reason for continuing service with the large articulated buses was to allow for safe physical distancing between users and the operators. Now, OC Transpo has had to adapt to allow for continued physical distancing and to reflect current ridership demands. I appreciate that these service adjustments may cause difficulty for some transit users in terms of longer wait times, longer travel times to your destinations, or possibly a longer walk to the nearest bus stop. Unfortunately, these short-term changes are necessary to meet the current demands of our transit system. I will continue to consider all proposed changes and ridership levels and to advocate on behalf of our community for safe and reliable transit service. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.