A shortage of available OC Transpo drivers is cited as one of the reasons why hundreds of bus trips have been canceled in Ottawa this week – and even more disruption could arise.
OC Transpo tweeted more than 200 bus cancellations on Friday, including more than 150 announced the day before.
Between two and four percent of all bus trips were canceled Wednesday and Thursday, said Troy Charter, director of transit service delivery and rail operations at OC Transpo.
“It is expected that customers may experience more trip cancellations next week due to a few short-term factors, including the number of employees who worked overtime last week during the repair of Line 1 of the O-Train, higher than usual sick days absences and normal seasonal vacations,” Charter said in a statement to CBC.
OC Transpo typically schedules 7,900 rides a day, he added.
In a tweet, OC Transpo apologized to Ottawa residents and said it recognized alerts were not being sent every time a trip was cancelled.
“We understand that customers are feeling the effects of a recent increase in undelivered bus journeys. This is not the level of service our customers deserve. We recognize that this impacts your journey, and we are working hard to fill as many rides as possible,” the tweet read.
We understand that customers are feeling the effects of a recent increase in undelivered bus runs. This is not the level of service our customers deserve. We recognize that this impacts your trip and we work hard to fill as many trips as possible. 1/4
“We just don’t have the bodies”
Stuart MacKay, co-founder and board member of Transit Riders Ottawa, said much of the delays can be attributed to a shortage of drivers – an issue raised during a meeting with OC Transpo in May.
The city has allocated funds to OC Transpo to hire 80 new operators, MacKay told CBC Radio. All in one daybut they are looking to hire 200 more people.
“There are about seven to ten operators retiring or finding new jobs every month, so we just don’t have the bodies to drive those buses. And it’s really the result of poor management by OC Transpo staff,” MacKay said.
Regular cancellations can take a toll on people’s lives, he added, with passengers missing appointments or losing paychecks.
“People may have to spend money on a taxi or an Uber that they can’t afford. And it may hurt them at the end of the month as they try to buy food or pay for a rent,” MacKay said.
MacKay said some residents have reported to Ottawa transit riders that they’ve waited up to an hour for their buses to arrive.
“[There are] other people who don’t know what’s going on because of the notifications that only go to Twitter,” he said. “And if you don’t have access to Twitter, if you don’t have access to a cell phone, you don’t have I don’t know what’s going on.”