OC Transpo ridership below projections

OC Transpo ridership started off the year, once again, below its expected ridership.

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Good morning!

And welcome to spring! The start of spring means only one thing: it’s the start of debates about whether to ban vehicles during the day from the Queen Elizabeth Driveway.

Will the mayor continue his push to end active use on the Driveway? Will the NCC hold firm? Or will it all fizzle out in some unsatisfying compromise? It won’t be long until we find out!

In any case, we’ve got some news today on the latest transit ridership figures, gigs of the week, and plenty more.

Let’s get to it.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor.


Wednesday: +3 🌡️ -10 | 🌦/❄️

Thursday: -3 🌡️ -16 | 🌤

Friday: -5 🌡️ -8 | 🌤


Ridership, fares still below OC Transpo projections

What happened: OC Transpo ridership is 400,000 rides below what it projected, and fares were $1.5 million below expectations in the first month of the year, according to a new presentation to council. There were 6 million riders in January, less than the 6.4 million projected, and far off the 8.9 million rides taken in January 2019.

  • As part of its presentations, OC Transpo has also stopped including comparisons to pre-pandemic ridership in its charts.

OC Transpo/Handout

Rebrand: As part of a route review and consolidations across the system, OC Transpo is rebranding its bus service. “New ways to bus. Frequent. Local. Connected.” the new slogan reads. The new slogan is “short, forward-looking, positive and intuitive,” the presentation said.

The part that will be most noticeable for rider is the updated system map, emphasizing the new reorganization:

OC Transpo/Handout

The caveat: The city has struggled mightily to run reliable bus service. Riders have complained of late buses and cancelled trips. As part of the reorganization of routes, OC Transpo will be running 74,000 fewer hours of bus trips — a decrease of about three percent. At the same time, they’re promising more reliable service on frequent routes. Only time will tell if they can deliver.

New tech: The agency is also looking to upgrade the system that gives buses priority lights. Currently, bus traffic signals are triggered by loops buried under the asphalt at or near intersections. Next year, OC Transpo is looking to start a pilot project using GPS, that would tie the sensors already on buses to the city’s transit network.

  • “A GPS based transit priority system relies on technology that already exists onboard buses to communicate with the city’s traffic operations centre, which then relays the priority request to a specific traffic signal.”

Still set on spring? Transit general manager Renée Amilcar insists the new extended north-south Trillium O-Train line will be running this spring, CTV reported. This, despite a report to council that said the trains aren’t likely to be open for the public until late summer, and even as late as fall. She told the transit commission she was confident the line would be open before then.

No need for a Plan B: Amilcar said the city won’t need a contingency plan as it replaces its diesel fleet with electric buses. Many of the city’s diesel fleet is coming to the end of its life and won’t be replaced until the new electric buses arrive in numbers later this year, CBC reported.

  • You can read our coverage of the success of the city’s electric bus pilot project here.

Waiting to be sold: Much of the early generation of the city’s double decker bus fleet now sits in a field in Manotick, waiting to be sold. The 117 buses have come to the end of their service life, or never received upgrades to extend their life, the Ottawa Citizen reported.

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🪲 5th: Ottawa ranks this high on exterminator Orkin’s list of worst cities for bed bugs. Toronto took the top spot. [CTV]

📉 2.8%: The year-over-year inflation rate for February came in lower than expected. January’s inflation rate was 2.9 percent. Last month, grocery price increases slowed to 2.4 percent. [The Canadian Press]


🚨 Police are investigating after several swastikas were spray painted on an ATM in Vanier. [CTV]

🚔 One person was arrested in Kanata for firing a gun. No one was injured, and police are still investigating. [CTV]

💐 A pedestrian in Kingston was killed by a driver Sunday night. The pedestrian was taken to hospital, but did not survive. [CBC]

🚒 A trailer at an encampment in Gatineau caught on fire early Monday. No one was injured, but several nearby tents were caught up in the blaze before firefighters could put it out. [CBC]

🌉 Well, that didn’t last. While it looked like the bridge between Carleton University and Vincent Massey Park was finally open, it was short-lived as crews soon put fencing across both entrances. [Twitter]


Ottawa police taze, rough up the wrong man

What happened: Ottawa police officers are being accused of beating and tasing the wrong man. Kane Niyondagara told CBC he had his face forced into the ground while several officers kneeled on him, shocking him with a taser at least once. But officers released him in what police called a case of “mistaken identity.”

  • Niyondagara, who is Black, said officers asked him whether he knew “Gibriil,” likely referring to Gibriil Bakal, a Black man who is a suspect in a January homicide.

Ran away: He told the broadcaster he thought they may be after him for jaywalking — he said there were six seconds left on the signal when he crossed — and, fearing a violent arrest he ran. His parents explained that in their native Burundi police are known for corruption and violence, possibly leading to Niyondagara’s reaction.

  • While running, he stopped at a crosswalk and waited for the light to turn, before continuing on. Soon after, he said he was tackled.

Police admitted they had the wrong man, and said they released him unconditionally after confirming his identity. Paramedics treated him while he was still handcuffed.

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It’s not a house, but with news of Yangtze going up for sale, we couldn’t help but feature the restaurant this week. The 9,600 square foot restaurant is mortgage free, and all of the kitchen and dining equipment is included in the sale. But the listing also notes the site is zoned for up to six storeys of redevelopment. Will it stay open after it’s bought?

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. 


Listings are provided by OttawaGigs.ca, the best place to discover live music in Ottawa. Check out Ottawagigs.ca for full listings across the city.

Tigran Hamasyan, Wednesday 8 pm: Potent jazz improvisation fused with the rich music of his native Armenia  At the National Arts Centre, 1 Elgin St. Tickets $43. 

The Free Label, Thursday 8 pm: Dance to their fusion of 70s disco, 90s R&B, and high-energy funk. At Rainbow Bistro, 76 Murray St. Tickets $15.

Jeff Rosenstock, Friday 6:30 pm: Acclaimed indie pop/rocker with a punk heart and diverse instrumentation. At the Bronson Centre, 211 Bronson Ave. Tickets $30. 

Deadweight, Friday 7:30 pm: Self-described heavy pop-punk degenerates from Montreal. At Avant-Garde Bar, 135 Besserer St. Tickets $15.

Rory Taillon, Saturday 7 pm: Ottawa-based singer-songwriter, strong and powerful yet soulful and moving. At Stray Dog Brewing, 501 Lacolle Way. Tickets $10.


🚧 Despite the warmer than usual March, and the lack of any snow, the William Commanda Bridge remains closed. The city said the bridge is not maintained in the winter and cold overnight temperatures mean ice and frost can build up on the decking. [CTV]

🧊 The NCC is removing the concession stands from the Rideau Canal this week. You may find delays along Colonel By Drive and Queen Elizabeth Driveway while crews are at work. [CTV]

📋 Vanier Coun. Stéphanie Plante wants council to consider a nuisance properties database of buildings and lots around the city that aren’t maintained by their owners. The emergency preparedness committee will vote on the motion Thursday. [CTV]

🥟 The neighbourhood of Chinatown is struggling with change as many storefronts along the commercial strip remain vacant. [CTV]

🇨🇦 Former prime minister Brian Mulroney will lie in state in the Sir John A Macdonald building until 1 pm Wednesday. [CBC]

  • Congrats to Ottawa Citizen photographer Ashley Fraser, who was nominated for a National Newspaper Award for her work. [Ottawa Citizen] 

  • Maidan Market, a welcome hub for Ukrainian newcomers, is fundraising to help displaced Ukrainian refugees settle in Ottawa. [Sponsored]

  • Bank Street between Sunnyside and Cameron will be closed from Friday evening to Monday morning. [City of Ottawa]

  • Ottawa’s Rachel Homan and team Canada improved to 6-0 at the women’s world curling championship. [The Canadian Press]

  • Two PWHL Ottawa players were traded away at the trade deadline this week. [CTV]

  • The city is looking for your input on its child care services. Fill out their survey to have your say. [City of Ottawa]

  • With a warmer than average spring upon us, you can also expect a warm summer with average precipitation. [CTV]

  • This year’s class of Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame inductees include broadcaster James Duthe, the 1999 Ottawa 67’s, and Lyndon Hooper. [CTV]

  • Want to have your announcement featured? Learn how here.


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Congrats to the 81 percent of you knew that the provincial government has so far had to pay out about $6 billion in retroactive pay increases after the court struck down its wage cap law.

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