By Sarah Tsounis
Now that the completion of Ottawa’s light-rail transit (LRT) line is delayed nearly six months to the end of November, Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley said he’s concerned the ongoing transition of bus services will exacerbate transit delays for west-end commuters.
The OC Transpo website states “bus routes are changing to simplify routing and provide convenient connections to the O-Train” since the Confederation Line will replace many buses currently routed through downtown Ottawa.
But according to Hubley, his Kanata South residents are now experiencing transit delays of up to 30 minutes on routes such as No. 256, which runs from Bridlewood to Mackenzie King Bridge at the Rideau Centre, due to these route changes.
“Most of them were supposed to not change the commute at all or maybe two or three minutes added onto your commute,” he said. “I think most people looked at that as, ‘OK, if this is just a short-term transition piece and by May the trains will be running, and I’ll be back to a normal 30, 45-minute commute versus an hour-and-a-half, then OK.’
“But now with the delay in the train, I want them to go and fix the problems on these routes,” Hubley said.
LRT builder Rideau Transit Group was supposed to hand over the system to the city on May 24, 2018 for safety tests and inspection before opening to the public early July. But the group recently informed the city that the June 2016 Rideau Street sinkhole put construction off-track.
Completion has been pushed back to November, and Mayor Jim Watson says the LRT will be ready for public service by the end of that month.
In the meantime, Pat Scrimgeour, director of transit customer systems and planning at the city, said in an email that “providing a reliable service” for OC Transpo’s bus system is a top priority.
“Snow days, and the resulting heavy traffic, have contributed to some of the issues reported. On the few days without road congestion and/or inclement weather, travel times have been similar to what was observed prior to the December 2017 service changes,” Scrimgeour wrote.
Trevor Haché, vice-president of the Healthy Transportation Coalition of Ottawa, commutes into the city from Kanata via route 61 every day. But he said he has not experienced any major route delays due to the closure of the Transitway for LRT construction.
“There is a general feeling that there are needed improvements to the transportation system in Ottawa,” he said. “A lot of focus is shifted toward the suburban areas in getting people from the suburbs into the downtown core for their jobs and then back out to the suburbs again, and what a lot of people have noticed is that for those neighbourhood routes, the service of public transit has really declined.”
At a finance and economic development committee meeting on Feb. 6, John Manconi, the city’s transit chief, told Hubley the transit times would be addressed moving forward.