OC Transpo has completed its most recent Bus Route Review and their recommendations were approved at this week’s Transit Commission. OC Transpo completes a bus service review every few years to update the transit plan. Given the fluctuations in ridership and the significant changes to work patterns, it’s important to reinvest transit’s limited funds to routes that will serve current travel patterns. The largest change overall was the elimination of most of the 200 series, which was a specific series to support commuters to downtown. I think this is a necessary decision, given the pressures facing OC Transpo. But what we will see closer to home is some adjustments to the distance people are expected to walk. People may be walking a little further to access a more frequent route. We are also seeing a continuance of routes converging on the OTrain line, and as Line 2 comes on in 2024, we will see further adjustments so that bus routes lead to both trains. The train spines ask people to make more transfers for what is supposed to be a quicker trip, but we know in practice this doesn’t always come to pass.
We have dug in on the implications for College Ward, and I am generally satisfied, except for a couple routes: the 50, the 111, and the 252. We will continue to follow up on the implications for those two routes. Below, please find my questions and staff’s response, and my further comments in the parentheses.
Route 50 – will be removed from Iris St.
Q: What route will replace the 50?
A: Riders will need to walk to Baseline for the 68, 88, and other buses. These will have a higher frequency than the 50.
(please do write us and let us know about the changes to the 50 and how they might affect your ability to get where you want to go. Is it feasible for you to get to the arterial roads for those higher frequency buses?)
Route 57 – no change
Route 88 - Route 88 would be revised to operate between Hurdman Station and Bayshore Station, with the section of the route west of Queensway-Carleton Hospital to be replaced by new Route 68.
Q: What about the section on Baseline between QC Hospital and Baseline Station?
A: Both routes will serve this section.
(this is a positive change, with two separate buses splitting the longer route, we should see more reliable times and a doubling across one of the busier sections serving Algonquin College).
Routes 63, 74, 75
Q: will service between Tunney's Pasture and Baseline Station be impacted?
A: No change to service in this section. We are still working on the schedules, including first and last trip times and frequency. We expect both to operate every 15 min at most times. Peak period Route 73 will also be useful through Baseline Station.
We are proposing that Route 111 end at Billings Bridge Station, and that anyone connecting to Carleton University would take a train on O-Train Line 2 from Mooney’s Bay Station. The same would apply for Route 88, the primary route at Algonquin College, and also for the new Route 112. These changes depend on O-Train Lines 2 and 4 being open, and so the start date of the change would be coordinated with the resumption of train service.
(we are following up here, as we are concerned about the existing level of service between Algonquin College and Carleton University and worry that this change may mean a net loss for those riders).
Nov 17 update: We've heard back from OC Transpo:
"We are revising our route plan to continue having Route 111 connect directly to Carleton University, at appropriate times and frequencies to match travel demand. We regard this as a transitional continuation of the extension, during the period when O-Train Line 2 will be new to customers. We will review the use of the extension to Carleton toward the end of the 2024-25 school year, to reach a conclusion as to whether it should continue beyond then. We believe that an extension of Routes 111 and 112 to Hurdman Station may be more valuable to customers overall, and we will leave that analysis until later."
Q: What service will replace this, in particular servicing Bells Corners?
A: Route 256 would operate through Bells Corners on Moodie and Route 68 would have some peak trips on Old Richmond Road east of Moodie.
(please do write us about the impact these changes will have on your ability to get around. Bells Corners remains fairly stagnant in its population and ridership is not high enough to see greater investment in frequency. We are encouraging better bus service in advance of the Moodie LRT coming online to encourage behaviour change and get people using the bus).
Q: Are you looking at Algonquin College connections to Carleton University, an issue we have raised with you in the past?
A: There would not be any direct single-ride bus service between Algonquin College and Carleton University. Customers would be best served by the connection at Mooney’s Bay Station but could, if they prefer, use the bus connections available from Billings Bridge Station to Carleton Station.
Routes 646, 681, 688 school specials
Q: Will these routes be impacted?
A: No change planned at this time for school routes. All would be reexamined for Sept 2024 based on forecast school travel needs and the capacity and connectivity available on the new bus route network.