Mayor open to bringing back some express bus routes

Mayor Jim Watson is adding his voice to the growing call to return more buses to city streets to compensate for the faltering LRT.

Watson told CBC Wednesday he has directed city staff to prepare options for council on ways "of improving the service and reliability from a bus perspective," including the possibility of bringing back some express routes that deliver suburban transit passengers downtown.

On Tuesday afternoon, after a train stoppage in the east end forced riders out into the cold and snow to catch replacement buses, three councillors used social media to call on OC Transpo to restore bus service through the core until the transit agency can ensure the new light rail system is more dependable.

"Any good idea is worth exploring," Watson said, "although there are some logistical challenges that I've been told in terms of the right number of buses in order to be able to accommodate that."

Francis Ferland/CBC

Bus supply in question

Among those challenges is the available supply of buses. Once the Confederation Line went public, OC Transpo took 180 buses off the road, keeping just 40 of them. Watson ordered those 40 buses back on the road last week, so it's unclear where any additional buses would come from.

Watson said he's also asked city staff if the 19 new buses that the city is planning to put on the road in 2020 can be brought into service sooner.

As well as trying to improve the bus service, Watson said he wants to hear from staff about what else the city can do to put pressure on LRT builder Rideau Transit Group and its maintenance arm "to live up to their end of the bargain to provide us a good, world-class system that is reliable and dependable and is not breaking down every second day."