Ottawa’s transit services show signs of improvement after pandemic woes, latest data shows

On Wednesday, April 20, the Ottawa Transit Commission learned that ridership and service indicators across all services showed positive growth.

It’s all coming OC Transpo – that’s if you go by the numbers the service provides that point to a positive outlook for Ottawa’s transit services.

An update on the situation given to the City’s Transit Commission at its meeting on Wednesday, April 20 revealed that ridership levels for Ottawa bus service in March 2022 were at 49% of pre-pandemic levels – the “biggest recovery yet”, the commission heard.

“Service availability continues to stabilize across all transit modes,” said a city announcement following the meeting. “OC Transpo ridership continues to recover, with month-over-month increases.”

This time last year, the Transit Commission was made aware of the impact of the pandemic on Ottawa’s transit services.

“Before the pandemic, attendance was up 4% year-on-year in January and February 2020, before dropping to 40% below 2019 levels in March, then to 86% below 2019 levels in April , before a slow increase over the remainder of the year,” the commission heard on April 21, 2021. “The outcome of the pandemic is that system ridership in calendar year 2020 was 58% lower than that of 2019.”

According to OC Transpo figures, about 3.2 million people used the bus service in January, which rose to about 3.4 million in February and then to 4.4 million in March.

Compared to the previous year, this means that January 2022 saw an increase of around 88% compared to the figures for January 2021; February saw an increase of around 55%; and March saw a 69% increase.

Para Transpo also recorded positive ridership statistics, with 374,000 trips booked from January to March, of which 579 were booked through the online booking tool.

And the service’s phone response times averaged about three minutes.

During the same period, approximately 96% of trips were on time.

The service also received 416 complaints, with the top four complaints relating to: financial or payment issues, staff behavior, delays and booking errors.

Meanwhile, the performance of the O-Train Line 1 has “consistently delivered” 99% of expected service so far in April.

“The availability of light rail vehicles exceeded targets, with an upward trend in the availability of Line 1 service.”

This compares to the O-Train Line 1 which reports meeting scheduled hours of service more than 97% of the time as of August, according to the April 2021 update.

Melvin Z. Madore