Editorial: O-Train shutdown is unnecessary

In three years’ time, the O-Train will be shut down for 16 months, to allow for the second phase of the $3.6 billion Light Rail Transit (LRT) expansion, according to the Ottawa Citizen.

During that time, the train will be replaced by bus service in the form of the 107, which is usually used when there are disruptions to O-Train service.

This shutdown will have an immense impact on students, many of whom rely on the O-Train to commute.

Unlike the train, buses are prone to getting stuck in traffic, thereby adding to the length of trips and overall wait times. At the same time, while the O-Train has a capacity of 285 people, an articulated bus only has 53 seats. With a daily O-Train ridership of 10,300 in 2014, this will likely result in overcrowded buses, especially at peak times.

U-Pass users represented 18.1 per cent of ridership in 2014, according to the OC Transpo website. This is guaranteed revenue for OC Transpo, making them less likely to care about interfering with student commutes—no matter the service being offered and despite the O-Train’s shut down, we’re still paying the same amount for less service.

While the expansion of the LRT is long overdue, shutting the entire system down for repair work and the construction of three new stations should be avoided. There are already limited options for public transit in Ottawa, and this will weaken it further.

Toronto’s Transit Commission shuts the subway down on weekends to complete infrastructure and maintenance work. Ottawa should look to mimic this approach.