NOTEBOOK: LRT will bring changes, but will it improve bus service for Stittsville?

Notebook

I’m just getting home from tonight’s OC Transpo open house at the GRC. My overwhelming impression: When LRT arrives this fall it will be a big change, but the impact on Stittsville transit service will be minimal.

We heard that when LRT service starts later this year (likely late November), bus service to Stittsville won’t be any more frequent, nor will the buses be any less crowded than they are now. Schedules should be slightly more reliable because buses won’t have to traverse across downtown, so there’s less chance that congestion, traffic lights, or weather can cause delays. The big change that riders will notice is the transfer point at Tunney’s Pasture from bus to rail.

Lack of reliability was a common complaint tonight. The woman sitting behind me put it succinctly: “We have to get home for daycare commitments, or to get to our kid’s hockey practice. We need to know that our bus is coming.”

Most riders will ultimately judge the value of the $2.1-billion light rail project not on speed of service, or comfort of the trains, but whether or not they can trust that their bus will get them home on time.

I actually think LRT will be great for Ottawa in the long term. OC Transpo staff are clearly trying hard to work through budget (and other) restraints to make the best of it, but I left the meeting tonight thinking that there’s still a long way to go, at least for people in Kanata and Stittsville.


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