Office of Councillor Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi Ward, Ottawa | (613) 580-2485  |
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OC Transpo route review

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OC Transpo has this afternoon helpfully provided a single document with all the most recent draft changes to bus routes. Download that below by clicking on the .pdf at the bottom of this post. On Tuesday, we'll be exploring those at a Transit Commission meeting and I've been contemplating the multiple changes in our ward.

I want to say first that we should be adequately funding OC Transpo through taxes with routes that are convenient, frequent and affordable. I am willing to vote those funds through higher taxes, but I also recognize that this is not the direction in which Council is heading. With reduced ridership and no funding from other levels of government on the horizon we need to make some hard choices. I do not envy OC staff the task in which they've been engaged to stretch service as much as possible to maintain transit as a sustainable option.

There are three things I'm looking at in our ward and that I'll be exploring with staff during our meeting and in the days after. It's important to note that Council is not being asked to approve the changes, only receive them. But I also know we'll have lots of opportunity to bring what leverage we can to the table to try to accomplish changes we want to see, hopefully without making some other route suffer.

The most problematic change I see is one that you've raised with me and that I raised in my first briefing with staff on the changes. The 11 is starting to look again like the 2. It will stretch over a long geography with some of the nastiest traffic in the city. An extended route means there are that many more opportunities to be delayed by collisions, construction and congestion. We split it years ago to help it run at least somewhat more reliably (bunching and long waits are still very common). This appears to be a step backward. I'd be more open-minded to it if I knew the City was committed to more transit-priority measures along the route, including bus-only lanes, the elimination of merges through bulb-outs and extensive use of transit signals. There has also been some feedback to my office about the new deke to serve Bayview station in addition to Tunney's Pasture. I get the proposal. Tunney's final configuration post-construction means it will continue as a significant connection hub. Bayview won't have that potential without a very extensive (and expensive) re-design. But by serving Bayview in addition with the 11, the many of us who live in close proximity to Richmond/Wellington/Somerset will have an easy connection to Line 2 without having to connect to Line 1. It makes sense, but concern about delays on particularly Preston are legitimate.

The second change that has elicited feedback is eliminating the direct connection via the 16 to downtown. The drawbacks are self-evident: for many residents in Westboro Beach and Champlain Park, they'll now need to use the LRT to get downtown. I'll be very blunt: this isn't a change I'm likely to fight hard. Transfers are a normal part of big transit systems. I absolutely agree that the 16 serves as an excellent backup to the LRT for much of our ward, but the answer is to ensure great, consistent LRT service - and I believe we're on the road to achieving that.

Finally, there have been a few notes about the elimination of the 50. The 50 is one of those routes of which we need a lot more. It serves as an inter-neighbourhood route with multiple amenities and destinations along the way. I need to understand from OC Transpo much better whether they're creating new options that recreate some of that convenience. I may need to put a full court press on this one.

There are other changes besides, but these are the ones that seem most pressing based on the very helpful and specific feedback you've been providing me to date. Please keep that coming. Tuesday isn't the end of the road. Our ward has traditionally received some of the best transit service in the city, which is the key reason why Natalie and I moved here. It's important to me that we maintain that.

Posted November 12, 2023