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OC Transpo exploring options to balance the books, admits financial pressures

OC Transpo is in serious financial trouble. While not surprising, the city is looking at new ways to cut costs and increase ridership.

Good morning!

I hope everyone is enjoying the week so far. The cooler temperatures have been good for sleeping. I’ve been busy getting back into the routine of school.

I’m also happy to report that after months of fighting, my mom is cancer free. We are so appreciative to all of you who followed along in her journey. In case you missed it, you can read more about it in the Ottawa Citizen or at CBC. 

Today, here’s what we’re looking at:

  • OC Transpo is going to be forced to make some tough decisions as it’s faced with a tougher than predicted financial situation, and it could have a negative impact on riders.

  • It’s been 10 years since the fatal Barrhaven bus and train collision which claimed the lives of six people. Those who survived are recounting their memories and are talking about how they moved forward.

— Charlie Senack [email protected]

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Weather Report

Wednesday: 19 🌡️ 10 | 🌤️

Thursday: 21 🌡️ 11 | ☀️

Friday: 23 🌡️ 11 | ☀️


OC Transpo in worse financial situation than mayor predicted

The issue: It’s no surprise but OC Transpo is in tough financial shape. But with the situation worse than Mayor Mark Sutcliffe expected, some key changes could be coming soon, CTV reported. That could include increasing fares, cutting service, adding a new tax, or axing any immediate plans for Phase 3 extension of the LRT to Kanata and Barrhaven until some future date.

By the numbers:

  • 112 million bus and train rides were expected this year, but the actual numbers won’t come close.

  • Twenty-five year revenue projections are down $3.7 billion — more than $100 million per year.

  • Pre-pandemic ridership numbers aren’t expected to return until at least 2030.

  • If Phase 3 was ever to go through, it would need to be 100 percent funded by other levels of government, but would still cost the city an estimated $64 million per year to operate, according to CTV.

  • OC Transpo had to dig into its reserves last year to cover its budget gap. The deficit for this fiscal year is now $40.8 million.

"People often say to me, as they may say to you, you inherited a mess, And I'll be honest, I'm not thrilled about this financial picture, nor some of the decisions that led to it,” said Ottawa mayor Mark Sutcliffe, according to CBC.

Looking to the future: While Sutcliffe has concerns over how Ottawa’s transit system will be funded, he’s not willing to put the brakes on launching light rail transit service out to Barrhaven, Kanata and Stitsville one day.

When he put in his bid for mayor, Sutcliffe ran on restoring faith in Ottawa’s problem-plagued transit system and seeing light rail transit reach all parts of the city.

  • “I think it's an important part of the system and our population is going to grow significantly over the next 25 years. We're not ready to push the button on Phase 3 this week anyway. We have a lot of work to do before we get to a point about making a decision about Phase 3.… We have to have those important conversations with other levels of government because we were always counting on those other levels of government to pay the cost of Phase 3 anyway,” he said to council.

Other funding? Ontario Premier Doug Ford previously expressed concerns over potentially funding any further light rail transit projects in Ottawa until problems with the Confederation line are resolved, CBC reported.

Short-term options: OC Transpo general manager Renée Amilcar also wouldn’t rule out a potential Phase 3 project, but said she’s focused more on getting bus rapid transit out to the suburbs.

To help with OC Transpo’s current financial woes, Sutcliffe is turning to other levels of government for help. He blamed “federal government decisions,” like the move to permanent hybrid work, for negatively affecting ridership levels in Ottawa.

  • “I think Ottawa is justified in asking for help because of the unique circumstances of being the nation's capital," Sutcliffe said.

💵 4%: Canada’s year-over-year inflation rate jumped to this level, making the BoC’s next rate decision harder. [Ottawa Business Journal]

🏠 39%: Ottawa-Gatineau’s annual pace of housing starts increased this much in August compared to last year. [Ottawa Business Journal]

👮🏼‍♀️ 3: The number of shootings Ottawa Police investigated in a 12-hour period. [CTV]


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Para Transpo riders frustrated over on-demand pilot project

🚂 It has been 19 years since the deadly bus/VIA rail train crash which took the lives of six people on Sept. 18, 2013. [Barrhaven Independent]

🛻 Mayor Mark Sutcliffe visited Manotick to get a firsthand look at the community's truck problem. Local councillor David Brown alongside residents have long complained of large trucks disrupting traffic along Manotick Main and Bridge streets, sharing concerns over safety. [Manotick Messenger]

👮🏼‍♀️ An 18-year-old has been arrested after a shooting on Ramsey Crescent and Dumaurier Avenue on Sept. 18. [CTV]


A decade since one of Ottawa’s most fatal disasters

The front of the OC Transpo bus was severed off by the VIA train in the collision that killed six people. Transport Safety board of Canada photo.

What happened: It has been 10 years since the fatal Barrhaven bus-train crash which claimed the lives of six people.

It was a sunny Wednesday in September 2013 when a double decker OC Transpo bus collided with a VIA Rail passenger train. The reason is still mostly unknown, but Dave Woodard was the wheel of the route 76 bus which was heading down the transitway after leaving Fallowfield Station. He, alongside five others, were killed: Michael Bleakney, 57; Connor Boyd, 21; Kyle Nash, 21; Karen Krzyzewski, 53; and Rob More, 35. Another 37 passengers were injured, reported the Barrhaven Independent.

Looking back: A decade on, survivors of the crash shared their stories with CBC. Ajoy Bista said he usually sat on the upper level above the driver, but this time switched seats, ultimately saving his life.

  • “I had a deep sense of guilt for years. I still do to an extent.… Had I not changed my seat, I would have been one among the deceased. I felt sad that I survived and someone who took my seat died,” he told the broadcaster.

Chad Mariage was on the second floor of the doubledecker bus when the crash occurred and then made his way down what was left of the stairs. He had to move houses because the sounds of trains became triggering.

  • ”[I tried to] ignore the carnage to the left of me, where all the debris and things I will never unsee were,” he said.

Rob Boyd, the father of one of the six killed in the incident, said he nor any of his family members have stepped on an OC Transpo bus since the crash altered their lives forever. He shared his memories with the CBC.

  • “It really kind of shakes your faith in reality.… You kind of assume there’s a certain amount of safety and predictability in the world. That was gone,” he said.


This week, we’ve got a home that’s on the luxurious end of the home scale. With four bedrooms and five bathrooms, this new build has about 3,700 square feet of space in the Hampton Park neighbourhood. Including opulent features like a glass-panelled elevator and a floating staircase, and not one, but two kitchens, this home is quite something.

House of The Week is a home selected by the Lookout team and is not a paid advertisement. All ads are labelled as such. If you’re a realtor who wishes to feature your home in our newsletter, please contact our sales team.


🗑️ Ottawa’s environment committee has approved a new plan which could change when garbage is picked up for some residents by eliminating Friday pickup. The new direction will also see some waste diverted to private landfills. [CTV]

💡 The union representing 400 striking Hydro Ottawa workers has confirmed they will be back to work on Wednesday after accepting a deal. It ends a months-long strike which began at the end of June. [CTV]

💊 Have you ever wondered what is in Ottawa street drugs? Ottawa Public Health is gearing up to release the results from drug tests taken at supervised injection sites. [CBC]

🛒 David Sobey, who helped transform Sobeys into a national grocery giant, died at the age of 92. Empire, the Sobeys parent company, bought Ottawa’s Farm Boy in 2018. [CBC]

  • City hall is getting ready for a busy fall. Here are Five things in store for council over the coming months. [Ottawa Citizen]

  • Children can scavenger hunt around Canadensis Garden during Fall Celebration. Those who complete the hunt will receive wildflower seeds to take home and plant. *Sponsored content

  • Carleton University launched a journalism scholarship in honour of Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot and killed in 2022 by the Israeli Defence Forces in the West Bank. [Ottawa Citizen]

  • Council is going ahead with filing an environmental assessment of its preferred “Option 7” extension of Brian Coburn Boulevard despite an ongoing disagreement with the NCC over where the road should be built. [Ottawa Citizen]

Want to have your announcement featured? Contact our partnership team for more info.

*Sponsored content


The joys of fresh-made tortillas

Photo by Ralf Joneikies/Ottawa Lookout

Capital Eats is written by our food editor Ralf Joneikies.

If you’re somebody who listens to their gut instincts, you’ll know that you’re often right. Then, once in a while, you might second guess yourself and take a “wait and see” stance. This is what happened at this dumpling restaurant, where I’m glad I withheld my initial judgement.

This is a restaurant located on the backside of a building housing a pot shop and an animal hospital among other businesses and has no signage visible from Merivale.


🏒 Ottawa’s Professional Women’s Hockey League team is starting to come together. The first three picks have been chosen at the PWHL draft, including Carla MacLeod and Ashton Bell. [CityNews]

🥅 The Ottawa Senators almost officially have a new owner. Michael Andlauer is expected to take over the team on Friday. [Ottawa Sun]

🏒 Nepean native and longtime Barrhaven resident Tim Higgins will be inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame. [Barrhaven Independent]


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