Much was discussed on last Wednesday's Transit Commission meeting including the recent route changes/cuts/optimization, MacKenzie King Bridge congestion, and Presto smart cards. Here is the recap of that meeting (most of the information is referred to David Reevely's Twitter feed):
- Six new trains for the O-Train were purchased for $35 million from Alstom and are scheduled to be in service in 2014. The purchase is in anticipation of the O-Train expanding to Leitrim, which will be assessed by consultants for its feasibility.
- OC Transpo usually runs 175-178 buses on Slater during the PM rush according to OC Transpo Transit Design Manager Pat Scrimgeour. While Slater is close to threshold of 180, it is already experiencing significant bus congestion. From experience, walking from Metcalfe to Mackenzie King Bridge during the PM peak period is faster than riding any bus on Slater.
- Regarding Mackenzie King Bridge, Scrimgeour says boarding and unloading is the issue, and not the pedistrian crossing. They are paying close attention to it. Last week, I saw what appeared to be OC Transpo supervisors assisting with closing the rear doors on the eastbound platform of Mackenzie King during the PM rush. I've witnessed this new procedure on two separate days at 5 p.m. and there hasn't been a noticeable improvement; buses were still backed up to Elgin.
- OC Transpo ridership grew from August 2010 to August 2011 by 6.3%. Increased ridership and decreased service lead to overcrowded buses as experienced by many in September.
- Maintenace Chief Larry Atkinson said around 30 routes per day are served by the wrong kind of bus. This is a high number, but it's possible that there was only one instance of that occurring for each route.
- Since the route changes on September 4, OC Transpo has added articulated buses on certain trips on routes 4, 30, 34, 38, 41, 87, 93, 130, 134 and added trips during peak hours to routes 30, 131, 134, 136, 106. (Metro News)
- Presto Cards are scheduled for April 2012. The smartcards will replace passes and tickets. In theory, there should be fewer lineups at pass retailers near the beginning of the month. While the program will cost Ottawa $25 million and the province $7 million, this is expected to cut costs on administration for tickets and passes. The city has discussed the idea for Presto since 2006.
- Finally, Route 106 will serve the ring road around the General Hospital campus in late December. After continually modifying transit service to this area in the past month, it seems that Route 106 will be fully re-instated and operate like it did pre-September 4.