October 6 Network Service Change

Update from John Manconi, GM Transportation Services, City of Ottawa.

It has now been three weeks since the launch of the O-Train Line 1 and we are very happy to report that the residents of Ottawa have embraced their new mode of transportation.  Our customers have developed a momentum and now as planned, it is time to end the parallel bus service that we provided in helping our customers transition to the O-Train Line 1.

With the successful launch of Line 1, the end of parallel bus service will proceed as scheduled on Sunday, October 6. This major bus network change will be the largest service change ever in the history of Ottawa and OC Transpo. The transit network has been re-designed to take full advantage of the capacity and reliability of O-Train Line 1 as the main spine of the OC Transpo system. Approximately 100 bus routes and 240,000 customer-trips each day are affected by this change.

These changes will bring into effect the full advantages of Line 1, including:

  • Increases to bus reliability throughout the transit network, because most bus routes will no longer need to operate on detours or busy downtown streets;
  • Re-opening all Nicholas Street lanes to general traffic; and
  • Removing much bus traffic from Scott Street; and,
  • Removing hundreds of bus trips from Albert and Slater streets and the Mackenzie King Bridge in Ottawa’s core.

Along with the bus route network changes, service expansion funded by Council’s $5.1 million investment is being implemented. These improvements include:

  • New Route 15 on Montréal Road and Rideau Street
  • New Route 55 service on Main Street and to the hospital complex
  • New Sunday service on Route 81 on Kirkwood Avenue and Merivale Road
  • New Route 114 with limited service between Carlington and downtown
  • New Route 251 from Bells Corners
  • New Route 266 from Kanata North
  • Extended Route 11 to Bayshore
  • Extended Route 17 to Gatineau
  • Extended Route 56 on King Edward Avenue
  • Extended peak trips on Route 93 to Hurdman Station
  • Extended Route 138 in Orléans
  • Extended Route 257 in Kanata South
  • Reduced travel times on Route 256 from Kanata South
  • Additional trips, giving additional capacity and shorter waiting times, on Routes 28, 40, 56, 58, 63, 66, 80, 86, 93, 98, 99, 111, 221, 261, 262, 263, 275, 290, 294

Ensuring customers are aware and prepared

OC Transpo has rolled out a robust communications strategy to help ensure that customers are aware and prepared for this #reallybigservicechange, including:

  • A strong marketing campaign with messages appearing on radio, print, digital and social media;
  • Neighbourhood-specific flyers to all Ottawa households;
  • Posters, handouts and signage throughout the transit network;
  • Distribution of Public Service Announcements and News Releases aimed at producing local media coverage;
  • Information and tips posted on Ottawa.ca, OCTranspo.com, City and OC Transpo social media channels; and,
  • OC Transpo staff in red vests providing information directly to customers at key locations across the city.

On Monday, October 7, the Confederation Line system will see an influx of transit customers who will be experiencing the Confederation Line for the first time. Additional staff, including Supervisors and “red vested” O-Train Ambassadors, will be deployed throughout the network to direct customers and help them with their bus/train transfer.  Just as we saw on the first days following the launch, there will be a period of adjustment while new customers adjust, and the system finds a new equilibrium. We will be watching the situation closely and are ready to respond quickly should any issues arise.

Feedback, adjustments and suggestions

Since the launch of Line 1, we have been listening closely to our customers. The great majority of the feedback we are receiving about the new service continues to be positive. Where issues have been identified, we have worked quickly to respond and improve service. For example, to address issues identified around transferring from trains to buses at Tunney’s Pasture and Blair stations, we have made the following adjustments:

  • Additional buses standing by to fill gaps in service and to ease crowding;
  • Additional space for customers and buses at Blair Station by relocating bus stop locations;
  • Additional space for customer circulation at Tunney’s Pasture Station by widening the bus platform;
  • Revised bus stop assignments at Blair Station to ease crowding and improve the flow of buses;
  • Additional wayfinding signage, responding to frequent questions from customers;
  • Revised wayfinding signage in connection with the physical improvements;
  • Additional transit supervisors, customer service staff, and special constables to assist customers during afternoon peak periods;
  • Reminders to customers to board buses through all doors and not pause to tap their smartcards when in the fare-paid zones; and,
  • Additional communication to help customers adapt to the new system.

Next updates

I will provide Council and Members of the Transit Commission an update on Monday following the morning peak service and again following the afternoon peak period. The next and final written update to Council and Members of the Transit Commission will be issued on Friday, October 11, which will provide a summary of the entire week.