Note: This article was originally written by Jordan Moffatt, a staff member in the office of Councillor Glen Gower.
OC Transpo has announced two changes to their service: the annual spring service adjustments as well as new adjustments made in response to the impact on ridership caused by the pandemic. These changes are city-wide and will affect certain routes in Stittsville.
Spring Service Adjustments
OC Transpo makes annual spring service changes to reflect the seasonal changes in transportation patterns. This year’s spring service changes in Stittsville are:
- Weekday frequency reduction to routes 61, 261, and 262
In addition, some immediate changes are being made in the spring service update to reflect lower ridership during the pandemic. The Stittsville routes impacted are:
- Weekday frequency reductions to route 61
Another change is that by the end of April, all OC Transpo buses will have bike racks.
View the complete spring service update details here: https://www.octranspo.com/en/plan-your-trip/service-changes/
Spring service starts Sunday April 18, 2021.
Proposed COVID-19 service adjustments
OC Transpo has also released a strategy in response to the ongoing ridership decline and changing transportation pattern caused by the pandemic. The COVID-19 service adjustments will result in approximately $5.5 million in cost savings this year.
The changes include:
- The temporary suspension of selected peak-period routes with very low ridership and where there are other nearby services.
- Frequency reductions on certain routes to better match actual current ridership levels.
- Routes being shortened where parallel service is available.
- Service improvements on a number of routes to respond to current travel needs.
- A reduction in operating costs.
In Stittsville, the adjustments will affect:
- Service on Connexion Routes 261, 262, 263, which will be reduced to every 30 minutes.
- Service will be reduced to every 30 minutes on the extensions to Gatineau of Rapid Routes 61 and 63 in peak periods
There will also be service improvements on certain routes whose ridership has remained closer to pre-pandemic levels. Route 62 in Stittsville is one of these routes. The improvements will mean more frequent and later evening service and new Saturday and Sunday service to Kanata and Stittsville. This improved service will replace some current trips to and from Tanger Outlets on Route 162. Here is some detail on the improvements on Route 62:
- Extend most Route 62 trips that currently start/end at Terry Fox Station, to start/end at Stittsville, seven days per week.
- Improve Route 62 periods with 60-minute frequency to 30 minutes.
- Extend one Route 62 evening weekday short trip to Tunney’s Pasture.
- Withdraw the short trips on Route 162 between Tanger and Terry Fox, seven days per week (fully removes Sunday service). Route 162 short trips between Tanger and Terry Fox are no longer required as they are fully replaced by the extension of Route 62.
The benefits for Stittsville include:
- Improves weekday evening frequency eastbound from Stittsville to Terry Fox.
- Adds new later weekday evening service westbound from Terry Fox to Stittsville.
- Adds new all-day Saturday and Sunday service between Terry Fox and Stittsville.
- Better bus service for commercial and industrial areas along Carp Road and Hazeldean Road.
Ridership will continue to be monitored over the next few months and adjusted based on ridership levels. The frequency of service will be increased as transit ridership recovers closer to normal levels.
The COVID-19 service adjustments, if approved by Transit Commission on March 31, will start Sunday, June 20, 2021.
OC Transpo is also preparing a contingency strategy in the event that that federal and provincial governments do not continue to provide a backstop to lost revenues over the past year. This strategy, called “Plan C,” would involve significant cuts to service. But these cuts are only the option of last resort. More details on this potential option will come to Transit Commission in the next month.
There are many reasons to keep transit operating even during the pandemic: the people who are using transit now are the people who need it the most; layoffs should be avoided and won’t bring immediate cost savings; ridership is expected to increase in the recovery stage, and cutting now would make it more difficult to ramp service back up; and transit remains a long-term priority for the city.
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