OC Transpo is reminding transit users of upcoming changes to its services that will start after the weekend.
Because of COVID-19 Ottawa's public transit is experiencing a dip in customer volume — about 70 to 90 per cent — and it's forcing the bus, O-Train and Para Transpo services to scale back, with some services being cancelling altogether.
The service changes will start Monday and may result in longer walks, wait times, travel times and/or additional transfers, general manager John Manconi said in a memo.
“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,” Manconi wrote.
“With reduced ridership and COVID-19 potential impacts to the workforce, an adjustment to our multi-modal transit system is required to sustain and continue to provide the service while at the same time ensuring levels of service the enable social distancing.”
As of last Friday, service for the O-Train Line 1 now starts at 5 a.m. and goes until 1 a.m. on Saturday mornings, with overnight bus service will be available for that time. Otherwise, start and end times will stay the same.
At peak periods, trains will arrive every six to eight minutes, and every 10 to 16 minutes at other times of the day and on weekends.
The number of dedicated R1 buses is also being reduced to align with the changes to service levels on Line 1.
There will also be less red-vested O-Train ambassadors on sites.
For Line 2 riders, trains will show up every 15 minutes at all times, with service start and end times remaining the same.
Tape will also be installed in Line 2 trains to block the area closest to the operator cab from the rest of the train to protect the health of operators and customers.
For conventional buses, service will continue to be provided to all neighbourhoods. Weekday service will move to Saturday service levels on many routes starting Monday.
Those routes, which normally operate only on weekdays, will continue to run, but on modified service.
Trips will start later in the morning for many routes while weekend service will operate as usual.
Rural weekly Shopper services will also stay as they are.
For a complete list of affected and cancelled routes, visit OCTranspo.com.
For Para Transpo, service levels are being managed according to demand.
Most trips will operate with only one customer on board at a time to allow for social distancing, and users who make a trip request the day before will also be accommodated.
Deadlines to cancel auto renewal of April monthly transit passes have been extended to Friday at 11:59 p.m.
Manconi says this will give customers more time to cancel their monthly passes, if that’s what they choose to do.
Customers can head to prestocard.ca to change their auto renew settings.
“We will continue to monitor ridership levels closely and are ready to adjust again as necessary to continue to protect the health and safety of our staff and customers,” Manconi said. “If operators report crowding on any services, we are ready to respond with spare vehicles”