Results of survey on free transit in December

In December 2021, OC Transpo offered free transit as a kind of apology to transit riders. The Ottawa Transit Riders conducted a survey asking people how the experiment went. You can read the full “What we heard” report here.

Summary – what did we learn?

  1. People chose to ride transit more often because it was free and some people changed their travel patterns (taking shorter trips, going to new locations, etc.)
  2. Many people expressed concern about COVID – they were worried about riding crowded buses, etc. If the city offered another month of free transit post-pandemic, it might produce different results.
  3. Transit riders prioritize affordability, reliability, and frequency.
  4. The people who use ParaTranpso changed their travel plans only a little. Presumably, many are transit dependent so free transit didn’t change their needs. This needs to be kept in mind as we advocate for greater capacity - transit is an equity issue.
  5. Drivers were guardedly positive about the experience, but doubtful about the value of free transit in the long term.
  6. This tracks with experts who say that AFFORDABLE transit is important (it may be beneficial to provide free transit for specific groups such as teens, seniors, low-income residents), but that free transit for all is probably not worth the cost. It would be better to focus on better quality transit.

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Upcoming Transit Commission meeting - March 30th

One of the few ways that Ottawa residents have of expressing our frustration or demanding better transit service is attending a public Transit Commission meeting.

The last meeting on transit was November 17, 2021.

If you are thinking that that is a long time between transit meetings, you are correct. This upcoming meeting will likely run long. Here is a copy of the agenda: Transit Commission agenda 30 March 2022

You can attend online by viewing the Ottawa City Council YouTube channel at    

The Ottawa Transit Riders conducted a survey on the month of free transit in December – we plan on making our “what we heard” report public at the meeting.

In addition, we are advocating for ParaTranspo issues to be added as a standing item on all future agendas.

If you are interested in speaking at this meeting, please take a look at a primer we prepared for the November meeting: How to Participate 101 

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Advocating for choices in transportation

The Ottawa Transit Riders is fighting for good reliable transit because everyone deserves choice in how we get around. We work with allies advocating for active transportation options as well because everyone benefits from good public transit and safe bike lanes.

High gas prices leave commuters decrying lack of alternatives to driving (in New Brunswick)


As people fret about rising gas prices, we continue to argue that the city of Ottawa should be thinking of how to make it easy to get around without needing a car. We need to build 15-minute neighbourhoods where people can work and shop and play within an easy walk.

We need to build safe bike lanes.

We need to prioritize mobility for people with disabilities.

And we need to support a transit system that serves people all over the city, not just commuters going from suburbs to downtown. We need north-south routes and late night buses. We need fast, reliable, FREQUENT buses.

Choices are good for everyone.

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The Monitor focuses on transit

The Monitor, a bimonthly policy and current affairs magazine from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (, published several articles focusing on transit in their most recent issue. 

Here are several articles specific to Ottawa (although all articles are of interest to transit advocates)

The future of Ottawa’s transit after the light rail debacle

An equitable recovery for Para Transpo (Sally Thomas and Laura Shantz)

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Ottawa Transit Riders statement on the occupation

Ottawa Transit Riders condemns the illegal occupation of Ottawa’s downtown core. Over the past week, our group and its members have been horrified to see what has transpired on Ottawa’s streets: Symbols of hate and intolerance brazenly displayed; businesses displaying support for 2SLGBTQ+ residents vandalized; residents verbally and physically assaulted; seniors and marginalized residents trapped in their homes; and residents forced to endure endless hours of honking on their streets, diesel fumes spilling into their homes and apartments, the threat of arson, and illegal displays of fireworks. 

Like many other organizations and advocacy groups across the city, we call on Mayor Jim Watson, Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly, and all other levels of government to move swiftly to end this illegal occupation of Ottawa and return the city’s streets back to its residents.

The freedom of movement of Ottawa’s transit riders is being prevented. We have heard numerous stories from our members and the public about how this illegal occupation has affected them. Stories of essential workers forced to spend hundreds of dollars on alternative means of transportation such as taxis and Ubers to get to work. Stories of young women harassed and intimidated by occupiers who have taken over areas outside downtown LRT stations. Stories of disabled transit riders unable to access ParaTranspo services due to street closures. Stories of seniors lost and abandoned because OC Transpo has not communicated route changes.

Because of this, the Board of the Ottawa Transit Riders calls on the City of Ottawa and OC Transpo to do the following:


  • Request that the Ottawa Police Service remove occupiers from key LRT stations within the occupation zone so that transit riders can enter and exit stations without fear of intimidation and harassment.
  • Increase the presence of OC Transpo Special Constables at key LRT stations within and outside of the occupation zone, notably Lyon, Parliament, Rideau, and Tremblay Stations.
  • Improve communications regarding route changes and delays to riders.


It is time to end this illegal occupation of our city. It is time to get Ottawa moving again.


Le groupe des usagers de transport en commun d'Ottawa condamne l'occupation illégale du centre-ville d'Ottawa. Au cours de la dernière semaine, notre groupe et nos membres ont été horrifiés de voir ce qui s'est passé dans les rues d'Ottawa : Des symboles de haine et d'intolérance affichés de façon éhontée ; des commerces affichant leur soutien aux résidents 2SLGBTQ+ vandalisés ; des résidents agressés verbalement et physiquement ; des personnes âgées et des résidents marginalisés piégés dans leurs maisons ; et des résidents forcés de supporter des heures interminables de klaxon dans leurs rues, des fumées de diesel se répandant dans leurs maisons et appartements, la menace d'incendie criminel et des feux d'artifice illégaux. 

Comme beaucoup d'autres organisations et groupes de pression de la ville, nous demandons au maire Jim Watson, au chef de la police d'Ottawa Peter Sloly et à tous les autres niveaux de gouvernement d'agir rapidement pour mettre fin à cette occupation illégale d'Ottawa et rendre les rues de la ville à ses résidents.

La liberté de mouvement des usagers du transport en commun d'Ottawa est entravée. Nos membres et le public nous ont raconté de nombreuses histoires sur la façon dont cette occupation illégale les a affectés. Nous entendons des histoires de travailleurs essentiels forcés de dépenser des centaines de dollars pour des moyens de transport alternatifs comme les taxis et les Ubers pour se rendre au travail. Des histoires de jeunes femmes harcelées et intimidées par les occupants qui ont pris possession des zones situées à l'extérieur des stations de métro léger du centre-ville. Des histoires d'usagers handicapés du transport en commun incapables d'accéder aux services de ParaTranspo en raison de la fermeture des rues. Des histoires de personnes âgées perdues et abandonnées parce qu'OC Transpo n'a pas communiqué les changements d'itinéraire.

Pour cette raison, le conseil d'administration des usagers du transport en commun d'Ottawa demande à la Ville d'Ottawa et à OC Transpo de faire ce qui suit :


  • Demander au Service de police d'Ottawa de retirer les occupants des stations clés du TLR dans la zone d'occupation afin que les usagers du transport en commun puissent entrer et sortir des stations sans crainte d'intimidation et de harcèlement.
  • Augmenter la présence des agents spéciaux d'OC Transpo aux stations clés du TLR à l'intérieur et à l'extérieur de la zone d'occupation, notamment aux stations Lyon, Parlement, Rideau et Tremblay.
  • Améliorer les communications avec les usagers concernant les changements d'itinéraires et les retards.


Il est temps de mettre fin à cette occupation illégale de notre ville. Il est temps de remettre Ottawa en mouvement.


Traduit avec (version gratuite)

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Stuart MacKay talking about transit and other neighbourhood issues

Enjoy a very good interview with Stuart MacKay (co-founder and board member of the Ottawa Transit Riders) talking about local activism and how to build a better, more responsive city.

Reinventing downtown Ottawa

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Survey - what did you think of FREE transit in December?

The city of Ottawa offered residents “no cost” public transit for the month of December 2021. It was meant as an apology of sorts for months of poor, inconsistent service, including weeks of the train being offline.

The Ottawa Transit Riders is an advocacy group for better transit. We have launched campaigns such as #FlattenTheFare and #FightForFairFares against rising fares and we are members of the pan-Canadian group advocating for the Federal government to provide cities with operational funding #Keep Transit Moving / Priorité TC

We would like to hear about your experience with free transit in Ottawa. Please take a moment to complete a short survey on your impressions, opinions, and demands regarding transit service.

If you ride ParaTranspo, there are specific questions about your experience.

And if you are an OC Transpo bus operator, we would like to hear your opinions.

Please pass the link around: Feedback on FREE transit in Ottawa


Qu'avez-vous pensé de l'expérience de la gratuité du transport en commun à Ottawa ?

La ville d'Ottawa a offert aux résidents un transport en commun « gratuit » pendant le mois de décembre 2021. Il s'agissait en quelque sorte de s'excuser pour des mois de service médiocre et irrégulier, y compris des semaines où le train était hors service.

Le groupe des usagers du transport en commun d'Ottawa est un groupe de défense de l'amélioration du transport en commun. Nous avons lutté contre la hausse des tarifs #FightForFairFares (Aplatissez les tarifs !) et nous sommes membres du groupe pancanadien qui demande au gouvernement fédéral de fournir aux villes un financement opérationnel #Keep Transit Moving / Priorité TC.

Nous aimerions connaître votre expérience du transport en commun gratuit à Ottawa. Veuillez prendre un moment pour répondre à un court sondage dans lequel nous vous demandons de nous faire part de vos impressions, opinions et demandes concernant le service de transport en commun.

Si vous utilisez ParaTranspo, il y a des questions spécifiques sur votre expérience.

Et si vous êtes un chauffeur d'autobus d'OC Transpo, nous aimerions connaître votre expérience.

Veuillez faire circuler le lien : Commentaires sur le transport en commun GRATUIT à Ottawa

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Seattle hosts #WeekWithoutDriving

Seattle’s disability mobility initiative “Week without driving” - similar to Ottawa’s Transit Challenge

Many people will remember that in 2019 and 2020, city councillors and key staff from OC Transpo were invited to participate in Ottawa’s Transit Challenge - rely on public transit for a week in February.

We learned A LOT during those challenges - some participants tweeted about taking their children on the bus and many councillors chatted to constituents about their experiences. Some councillors detailed the challenges of getting around by transit that they had not dealt with before.

We cancelled Transit Challenge 2021 due to the pandemic and we’re watching the news to decide when Transit Challenge 2022 will take place.

But Ottawa is not the only city facing transit inertia.

In Seattle, a disability rights group called “Disability Rights Washington” ran a one-week challenge (disability mobility initiative) asking local politicians to avoid driving for a week. 

They just published a report with their findings - take a look. #WeekWithoutDriving 

Take note also of the similarities with Ottawa. Many of the politicians are quoted as expressing surprise at how much additional planning it takes to get around without a car.

Lots of people don’t have access to cars - including kids too young to drive, seniors, people with disabilities, people who are concerned about the environment, and those who can’t afford a vehicle. City council has a responsibility to serve ALL residents of a city - not just drivers.


The Ottawa Transit Riders calls on our city councillors to treat transit and active transportation both as an equity issue and as a climate change mitigation strategy.

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Free Transit in December - how is it working?

The city of Ottawa offered residents a month of “free transit” in December 2021 as a kind of apology for the poor transit provided recently (LRT shut down, multiple cancellations, lack of communication, uncertain R1 service, etc.).

The Ottawa Transit Riders is in favour of “free” transit or at least MUCH MORE AFFORDABLE transit, especially for specific groups of people (low income residents, teens, students, seniors, people with disabilities).

The mandate of the Ottawa Transit Riders is to advocate for better quality transit - we want increased capacity of regular buses and ParaTranspo. We want better communication, more reliable service, and more people-centered routes. We wish the city would create dedicated bus lanes.

So, what do residents think of the month of “free” transit?

Councillor Mathieu Fleury from Rideau-Vanier went out to speak to transit riders. Here are some interviews he conducted:

We heard from you on the free transit service this month


And here are two advocates for transit - Nick Grover from Free Transit Ottawa and Laura Shantz from Ottawa Transit Riders talking about free transit in Ottawa on CBC:

Ottawa Morning interview

Please note that the interviewer played a clip of Transit Chair Hubley claiming that taxes will go up by hundreds of dollars per household if free transit becomes a reality.

  1. This is ridiculous fear-mongering as no costing has suggested that it would be that expensive, and
  2. Transit is a useful and cost-effective way of moving people around a city, a much better use of taxes than paying for suburban sprawl (i.e. widening roads).

As Laura pointed out in the interview, the Ottawa Transit Riders is a founding member of the pan-Canadian coalition #KeepTransitMoving which advocates for higher levels of government to support operational funding of transit as a way to mitigate climate change.

Let us know what you think of the free transit experiment.

And remember, Transit Challenge 2022 is coming in February.



La ville d'Ottawa a offert aux résidents un mois de « transport gratuit » en décembre 2021 comme une sorte d'excuse pour le mauvais transport offert récemment (fermeture du TLR, annulations multiples, manque de communication, service R1 incertain, etc.)

Le groupe des usagers de transport en commun d'Ottawa est en faveur d'un transport en commun « gratuit » ou au moins BEAUCOUP PLUS ABORDABLE, surtout pour des groupes de personnes spécifiques (résidents à faible revenu, adolescents, étudiants, personnes âgées, personnes handicapées).

Le mandat des usagers du transport en commun d'Ottawa est de militer pour une meilleure qualité du transport en commun - nous voulons une capacité accrue des autobus réguliers et de ParaTranspo. Nous voulons une meilleure communication, un service plus fiable et des itinéraires plus axés sur les gens. Nous souhaitons que la ville crée des voies réservées aux autobus.

Alors, que pensent les habitants du mois de la gratuité des transports en commun ?

Le conseiller municipal Mathieu Fleury, de Rideau-Vanier, est allé parler aux usagers du transport en commun. Voir ses interviews ci-dessus.

Ci-dessus, il y a aussi une interview de deux défenseurs du transport en commun - Nick Grover de Free Transit Ottawa et Laura Shantz du groupe des usagers de transport en commun d'Ottawa parlant de la gratuité du transport en commun à Ottawa sur CBC.

L'intervieweur a diffusé un clip du président de la commission des transports, Councillor Hubley, affirmant que les impôts augmenteront de plusieurs centaines de dollars par ménage si la gratuité des transports en commun devient une réalité.

  1. Il s'agit là d'une campagne de peur ridicule, car aucun chiffrage n'a suggéré que le transport en commun serait aussi coûteux.
  2. Le transport en commun est un moyen utile et rentable de déplacer les gens dans une ville, ce qui représente une bien meilleure utilisation des impôts que de payer pour l'expansion des banlieues (c'est-à-dire l'élargissement des routes).

Comme Laura l'a souligné dans l'interview, le groupe des usagers de transport en commun d'Ottawa est l'un des membres fondateurs de la campagne pancanadienne #KeepTransitMoving (#PrioritéTC) qui milite pour que les niveaux supérieurs de gouvernement soutiennent le financement opérationnel du transport en commun comme moyen d'atténuer le changement climatique.

Faites-nous savoir ce que vous pensez de cette expérience de transport gratuit.

Et n'oubliez pas que le défi du transport en commun de 2022 aura lieu en février.

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Vanier detour on Lafontaine ends

Please note that the detour of buses #15 and #20 on Lafontaine ends on Sunday, December 19th.

Buses will return to Montreal road, but to the new pandemic routes, not to their pre-pandemic routes. Take a look at the following map to understand where to catch your bus.



  • Route 12 - To provide a faster connection to O-Train Line 1, for customers travelling downtown, Route 12 will temporarily operate between St-Laurent and Blair stations seven days a week. Customers wishing to travel through Vanier can transfer to Route 15 at stops at St-Laurent Boulevard and Montréal Road. Route 12 school trips will operate on Route 15 and new Routes 615 and 616.
  • Route 15 will be detoured through and around the construction zone and rerouted onto Montreal Road between the Vanier Parkway and St-Laurent Boulevard. Weekday daytime trips will travel between Blair Station and Montréal Road using Bathgate Drive and Den Haag Drive with service to Parliament Station and Gatineau. Weekday evening and all weekend trips will travel between Blair Station and Montréal Road using Blair Road and will end at Parliament Station.
  • Route 20 will have its regular routing reinstated for winter service period.
  • Route 14 will maintain its current routing, but customers can expect longer travel times.
  • Routes 7, 9, 17, 18 and 19 will not be impacted. Detour adjustments may be required to accommodate construction.

For more information about transit routes, please visit this page.


Veuillez noter que le détour des bus #15 et #20 sur Lafontaine se termine le dimanche 19 décembre.

Les autobus reprendront la route de Montréal, mais sur les nouveaux itinéraires de la pandémie, et non sur les itinéraires d'avant la pandémie. Consultez la carte pour savoir où attraper votre autobus.


  • Les autobus du circuit 12 : Afin d’assurer une correspondance plus rapide vers la Ligne 1 de l’O-Train pour les clients qui se rendent au centre-ville, le circuit 12 sera temporairement en service sept jours sur sept entre les stations St-Laurent et Blair. Les clients qui veulent se rendre à Vanier peuvent prendre un autobus du circuit 15 aux arrêts situés à l’angle du boulevard St-Laurent et du chemin de Montréal. Les trajets scolaires du circuit 12 seront effectués sur le circuit 15 et les nouveaux circuits 615 et 616.
  • Les autobus du circuit 15 seront dévié à travers et autour de la zone de construction et retournera sur le chemin de Montréal entre la promenade Vanier et le boulevard St-Laurent. En semaine, les autobus des trajets de jour circuleront entre la station Blair et le chemin de Montréal en passant par les promenades Bathgate et Den Haag pour assurer le service vers la station Parlement et Gatineau. Les trajets des soirs de semaine et tous les trajets du weekend se feront entre la station Blair et le chemin de Montréal et se terminera à la station Parlement.
  • Les autobus du circuit 20 : Reprise de l’itinéraire régulier pour le service d’hiver.
  • Les autobus du circuit 14 conserveront son itinéraire actuel, mais les clients peuvent s’attendre à des temps de trajets plus longs.
  • Les circuits 7, 9, 17, 18 et 19 ne seront pas touchés. Des modifications aux détours pourraient être requises selon les travaux en cours.

Pour en savoir plus sur les circuits de transport en commun, consultez la site Web.


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