(Photo credit: City of Ottawa)
UPDATE (November 15): Councillors just received a memo explaining how the 40 additional buses are being deployed. Highlights for Stittsville riders:
– Additional service on 62, 261, 262, 263
– Extra trips between Tunney’s and Eagleson
– Additional stand-by buses to replace trips that are missing or late
– There’s also additional service being added to Route 55. I’ve heard from several residents who use this route to get from Stittsville to the Civic Hospital and Ottawa Hospital / CHEO.
– There’s also additional service on Route 66 that serves (among other places) the DND Moodie campus.
I don’t know yet how the additional buses are being scheduled. That information is still to come and I will share once I know more.
I’m one of twelve people who sit on Ottawa’s Transit Commission, which includes eight councillors and four public members. We meet about once per month and the Commission has oversight on all issues related to public transit, including buses, trains, and Para Transpo.
During a 6-hour meeting at City Hall on Wednesday, we tabled the draft 2020 transit budget and received a comprehensive update on train and bus service since the launch of the light rail system earlier this fall. With all of the reliability issues plaguing buses and trains, this was a highly anticipated meeting.
It started with OC Transpo staff presenting an 81-page slide deck with an overview of what’s happened so far, and what is being done to improve the situation. Then commissioners each had an opportunity to dig into the report with additional questions and feedback.
We received a ton of information, but even after six hours I’m still left with a lot of unanswered questions. For example, we know that 40 additional buses were deployed on November 4 to provide better service across the city, including Stittsville. Some have been used to add trips to existing routes; others will be used to provide direct service between Tunney’s and park-and-ride locations (including Eagleson); others will be used as spares to provide a back-up when buses break down. We won’t find out until next week exactly where those additional buses are being used.
OC Transpo is also working on a re-write to the bus schedules. One of the root causes of the late buses is that there simply is not enough time built into the current schedules. When a driver doesn’t have enough time to complete a bus run, every one of the subsequent runs becomes late as well. OC Transpo is analyzing GPS and time data from routes and will be launching the new schedules on January 1.
On the trains, technicians are still trying to figure out the root cause of ongoing computer issues. Rideau Transit Group is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the trains, and they’ve brought in experts to troubleshoot and fix the issues, but OC Transpo could not provide a timeline for when they would be fixed. Everyone is stumped and that is a major concern. In the meantime, the city isn’t paying any of the maintenance fees to Rideau Transit Group until there’s a reliable system. (Under the contract, the City can withhold maintenance money whenever RTG fails to meet performance targets.)
I introduced a motion to establish some basic reporting benchmarks, so that commissioners have a more objective way to determine whether or not OC Transpo is meeting its mandate. The motion was supported unanimously by my colleagues.
Thanks to my colleagues on Transit Commission for supporting my motion to get more reporting and metrics on bus & train reliability. 👍 pic.twitter.com/4rp8ac48yU
— Glen Gower (@glengower) November 7, 2019
This week we’ve seen slightly better service on the buses and trains, but there is still a long, long way to go. I am in contact almost every day with OC Transpo and they are aware of all of the problems affecting Stittsville. I will continue to work with residents and OC to get these issues fixed.
MORE: Here’s a video update that I recorded on the train on the way back from a very long day at City Hall: