Your letters and feedback on OC Transpo’s service changes

Comments of the Week

At the start of this year, OC Transpo replaced express busses – and the premium express fare – with new “connexion” routes.  The connexion buses ferry passengers between suburbs like Stittsville and downtown bus stations, as part of a transition to light rail.  Here’s what we’re hearing from our readers about the changes.

Shirley Butler wrote to us about the pros and cons of the new system:

I have used the peak hour 261 route in both directions for the last ten years.  First, the positives:

1. Bus pass fares are uniform for all riders other than seniors.

2. Regular pass holders are now able to ride the more direct (old “express”) routes and are not forced to ride buses that take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes longer than the regular routes.

3. Stittsville old “express” routes no longer stop at any stops between Tunney’s Pasture and Bayshore making the trip a few minutes faster.

The negatives:

1. Express buses between the hour of 6:45 and 7:25 are very full.  Most days by the time the bus gets to Canadian Tire Centre there is barely standing room.

2. Express buses between 4:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. are very full.  The bus starts at Rideau and by the time it arrives at Kent there is standing room only – that is three stops away.

In the ten years that I have lived in Stittsville (and while rush hour express riders were paying a premium for a bus pass) only one additional trip to routes 261 and 263 was added to the route (in the morning and in the afternoon) in spite of the exponential growth that Stittsville has experienced during the last ten years.   I know that a number of trips were added to the 262 route.  That said, if OC Transpo were to change the timing of the 263 so that it hits Fairwinds at around 7:20 a.m. that would alleviate some of the congestion.  Additionally if there was a 263 trip that started at Rideau at 3:55 p.m. that would spread the 4:00 p.m Fairwinds/Stittsville crowd between the 261 and 263.  As well sending a short 261 at 4:00 p.m is most ludicrous.

All to say OC Transpo charges some of the highest fares when compared to other cities and provides less than adequate services to its users.  I have changed my evening commute to catch the 4:40 261 as it is not as full.  However it is not as convenient.  If that bus does not show up I have to wait for a full 40 minutes before another 261 shows up. 

Although these are not unsurmountable problems I see that OC Transpo will lose ridership, causing fares to go up and service standards to go down. Is anyone looking into the problems and is anything going to be done?

Yes, OC Transpo and Councillor Shad Qadri say they are listening following up on feedback.  “I just wanted to let you all know that I am fully aware of your concerns. I am working with OC Transpo and will get back to you with a follow up within the next two weeks,” Qadri posted to Facebook on January 16.

Meanwhile in Kanata North, OC Transpo officials and Councillor Marianne Wilkinson will be attending a public meeting on Thursday, February 2 to discuss concerns about bus service to that community.  (The meeting is from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Richcraft Recreation Complex Kanata, 4101 Innovation Dr., in the Minto Room.)

What do you think of the new OC Transpo services changes? How can service be improved for Stittsville? Add a comment below or email

Not everybody sees the changes as a negative. Here’s a note we received from resident Linda Norton:

I take the 263 bus and in the morning see no change in the bus schedule or number of people taking the bus ( there are always too many people that have to stand for the entire trip downtown). With the removal of 4 stops on the downtown to Stittsville afternoon route the 263 has become a bus for those heading to Bayshore and west, not a bus for people who can take any bus for a short trip. This means that more Stittsville residents get a seat for the trip home. In my observation the changes to the 263 route are not material.

Positive comments were few and far between. Greg Stapledon’s review of the service was one of many we received in the same vein:

261 is atrocious. It’s a milk run in the morning and a cattle car in the evening. The last 2 days, the 4 PM bus left people at the bus stop after Lebreton. Before Christmas, there was rarely anyone getting on the bus after it left Stittsville in the morning. Now there are people getting on and off all along the route before Tunney’s. It’s added about 10 minutes to my normal commute. Coming home I have to walk up to an earlier stop just in hopes of getting a seat. Lately there seems to be an issue having a long bus on the 4pm run.

What do you think of the new OC Transpo services changes? How can service be improved for Stittsville? Add a comment below or email


6 thoughts on “Your letters and feedback on OC Transpo’s service changes”

  1. Wondering if there is any foresight into changing the ‘express’ route 261 or 263 to travel through Fairwinds? It would be nice to see one of the routes go from Johnwoods to Rosehill to Huntmar or Rosehill to Santolina to Maple Grove once Rosehill is open through the Tamarack / Tartan development. Right now the folks in Fairwinds West have quite a hike to get to a main artery and it seems redundant that the 92, 261 and 263 all travel the complete length of Huntmar with no deviation.

    I’ve noticed an increase in ridership on the first 261 evening bus since the route changes took effect in December. I’m not 100 percent in agreement with the route changes and disagree that the way to save is to eliminate stops. Why is it okay that riders get on and off and Bayshore, Pinecrest, Lincoln Fields, Dominion and Westboro in the morning but are denied that luxury in the afternoon? I don’t think it’s fair that a number of loyal riders are being told that because we don’t service your regular stop anymore you’ll have to either bus backward to catch the service you require or trying to jam yourself onto a westbound to Bayshore such as the 96. It has added about 7 – 10 minutes to my morning commute as we now stop at Bayshore and everywhere in between and I’ve actually been getting home about 5 minutes later in the evening because the first 261 run in the evening never seems to start the route on time.

    I would rather see commuters from Stittsville be able to get on the bus to go home at night and sacrifice the extra 30 second on my life for each stop. I fear this is going to cause a loss in ridership and increased fares… again.

  2. Ottawa is becoming less pedestrian friendly.
    When I moved back to Ottawa in 1990 I dealt with OC Transpo on the location of their bus stops in our neighbourhood. In one of their messages to me they said that they had an objective of having a bus stop within 700 m of almost every urban home. Since that time their distances have grown and their service has become less frequent. A single bus fire or break down or stuck bus now sends the entire system into chaos. The sidewalk maintenance has become something of a neighbourhood joke with repeated calls to the local counsellor generating more e-mails than action. Libraries being at the base of a hill, bus only lanes being put down the middle of a major route forcing aging users to walk further and expose themselves to more and more traffic. And of course roundabouts which were touted as a “safer” way to do things but the City has not seen fit to install signage telling pedestrians to “Yield to vehicles”. The only increase pedestrians have seen in the last 20 years is the number of words spoken by elected officials trying to convince us that they are making Ottawa more user friendly. Only if you have a car or a Presto Card, and are able to walk 1000 m or more to a bus/train. Sad, sad, sad!

  3. That coyote on Khamsin might be the same one I saw last week that ran out in front of my van on Frank Nighbor about 6am. I wondered how he was going to get back out of the city without getting killed by a car. He was heading towards Khamsin – must have taken the fields to get there. He might still be on my dashcam.

  4. The caption on your photo of the week states that a rather large coyote was making the rounds. It’s too difficult to make that assertion since the picture wasn’t all that clear. It was far more likely to have been a large breed of dog. Coyotes are much smaller.

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