New ways to bus around the Glebe Annex

By Sue Stefko
(Appeared in the Glebe Report, May 2024)

After a bus-route review in 2023, OC Transpo will enact a so-called “route optimization” sometime this year. While the overhaul will impact most routes and cut about 74,000 service hours per year, the City insists that this is not just about cuts and cost savings, is also also about improving connectivity and better meeting transit riders’ needs.

A number of routes will indeed be cut, and some riders may need to walk further to bus stops or to make transfers. However, there will be improved connections to the Trillium Line, better connections to commercial and employment areas and more frequent service on some key routes, particularly those destined for transit stations.

To help explain these changes, the City unveiled a new website called New Ways to Bus. On the site, 27 routes have been designated as “frequent,” including a number that pass near the Glebe Annex neighbourhood, like routes 10, 85a and 14. The city notes that these frequent routes will run seven days a week, every 15 minutes or less during the weekdays. If the 15-minute schedule is maintained the whole day, this would represent an improvement, particularly on the 10 and 14 routes, which now switch to about a 30-minute schedule after the evening rush hour.

Some local routes will also be changed. As many have called for, route 10, the main bus route serving Bronson, will continue east through downtown all the way to Main Street, instead of ending at Lyon Station. This will eliminate the transfer to the O-Train for those headed downtown. The easterly part of the route will replace the current 16.

Preston will be served by a more local route – a new bus 8 will stop at Pimisi Station before crossing into Gatineau to the Canadian Museum of History. Hopefully, the shorter route will mean fewer delays than on the old 85, which according to OC Transpo held the dubious honour last year of being in the top three of most unreliable bus routes in Ottawa. The eastbound 85 will no longer go north up Preston but will return to Bronson, at least between Carling and Chamberlain on its way to Lees Station, replacing the 55. Westbound, instead of travelling south down Bronson, the 85 will use Booth to get from Catherine to Carling, before continuing west along Carling to Bayshore.

Some other nearby routes, such as the 14 which runs from Tunney’s Pasture to St. Laurent along Gladstone, will not be changing. The same is true with route 56, which stretches from King Edward to Tunney’s Pasture, running on Carling and through the Glebe. However, the route will be temporarily detoured from Glebe Avenue between April and October this year due to replacement of underground sewers and watermains and a road reconstruction).

When the changes will actually take place is still unknown, as that’s linked to the re-opening of the north-south O-Train line. The line was officially renamed the Trillium Line in 2014 after the entire light rail transit system took the O-Train moniker, a reference that used to be reserved for the north-south line.

The Trillium Line, which opened in 2001 using an existing Canadian Pacific Railway track, was closed in 2020 for its expansion south. As part of the project, the line is extending 16 kilometres south to Limebank Road (Line 2), including a four-kilometre separate stretch of rail, referred to as a spur, between South Keys and the Ottawa International Airport, which will be Line 4. The project includes the creation of a new station at Gladstone, which will be called Corso Italia. Some other components of the project include grade separating the extension to avoid any level crossings with roads, upgrading the signalling system, constructing new pedestrian tunnels and overpasses, and rehabilitating rail bridges, such as the Dow’s Lake tunnel.

The line was initially expected to open in August 2022, then May 2023, then spring 2024. After the numerous delays, Transit Services general manager Renee Amilcar refused last month to further commit to any particular timeline. The line is not expected to reopen until this summer at the earliest, until remaining issues are resolved, the line is tested, and transit operators complete their training.

In the meantime, transit users will continue to watch and wait, using the temporary buses that no longer feel very temporary, for the Trillium Line to reopen. This will unlock improvements in access to the O-Train system and also for those transiting to, through and near the Glebe Annex by bus, with improved connections to other parts of the city promised.


Image: The new bus routes expected to be implemented sometime this year.
Source: OC Transpo