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OC Transpo scaling back all services as customer volumes fall 70 to 90 per cent

Among the changes, weekday bus service will move to Saturday service levels on many routes.
2019-07-03 oc transpo bus CK1
OC Transpo bus, July 2019. Chris Kurys/

OC Transpo is reducing its bus, train and Para Transpo services as ridership has been cut between 70 and 90 per cent due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A memo from City of Ottawa General Manager of Transportation Service John Manconi, Tuesday, says, "Maintaining service to all neighbourhoods and to essential services, such as grocery stores, pharmacies and hospitals, at levels that will still allow customers to safely space themselves out on trains and buses and maintain social distancing continues to be a priority."

The city says it will continue to monitor ridership levels closely and if its transit operators report crowding on any services, OC Transpo will be ready to respond with spare vehicles.

Manconi explains, "Some transit customers may experience longer walks, longer wait times, longer travel times or additional transfers as part of their trip. This plan may be adjusted as the COVID-19 situation evolves."

Here is a list of the coming changes:

Conventional Bus

As of Monday, March 30:

  • Service will continue to be provided in all neighborhoods
  • Weekday service will move to Saturday service levels on many routes
  • Many routes, which normally operate only on weekdays, will continue to run but at modified service levels
  • Rural weekly shopper services will continue as usual
  • The first trip in the morning will be later than usual on many routes
  • Saturday and Sunday service will operate as usual

Complete schedules and details of changes on specific routes will be available later this week on

O-Train Line 1, the Confederation Line

As of Friday, March 27:

  • On Fridays, service will run until 1 a.m. on Saturday morning, and overnight bus service will be available from that time; Otherwise, service start and end times will remain the same
  • Trains will arrive every 6 to 8 minutes at peak periods and every 10 to 16 minutes at other times of the day and on weekends
  • The number of dedicated R1 buses is being reduced to align with changed service levels on Line 1
  • Staffing levels of the red-vested O-Train Ambassadors have been scaled back

O-Train Line 2, the Trillium Line

As of Wednesday, March 25:

  • Trains will arrive every 15 minutes at all times
  • Service start and end times will remain the same
  • Tape will be installed on Line 2 trains to block the area closest to the operator cab from the rest of the train

Para Transpo

As of Tuesday March 24:

  • All trip requests made a day in advance are being accommodated
  • Most trips are being operated with only one customer on board, to allow for social distancing
  • Service levels are being managed according to demand

Metrolinx has extended the deadline to cancel autorenewal of April monthly transit passes to Friday, March 27 at 11:59 p.m. This will give customers more time to cancel their monthly pass, should they wish. Customers can change their autorenew settings at

Mike Vlasveld

About the Author: Mike Vlasveld

Mike Vlasveld, Digital Editor, CityNews Ottawa & the Valley
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