By Jeff Morris,Manotick Messenger
Leaving Richmond on an OC Transpo bus is one thing.
Getting back To Richmond is a completely different story.
The City of Ottawa hosted a public meeting on transportation issues facing the community Monday, Dec. 10. In attendance from the city were Troy Charter, Director of Transit Operations, and Pat Scrimgeour, who looks after route planning for OC Transpo. A crowd of more than 50 local residents turned out for the meeting.
“The meeting was well attended,” said Councillor Scott Moffatt, who was unable to attend the meeting but was briefed afterward by his staff and city staff. “The public transit meetings we had in Barrhaven drew about the same crowd.”
Barrhaven has a population of close to 90,000 people, and the issues facing commuters from that sprawling suburb are considered the most problematic in the city.
“There are a lot of little things that have added up for commuters,” he said. “It’s like death by 1,000 cuts. The little things are adding up, and the residents in Richmond who use the service have been very reasonable and patient.”
OC Transpo has four buses leaving Richmond in the morning and four returning to the community late in the afternoon. The issues brought up at the meeting were ones Moffatt was well aware of, but he was happy that city staff was in Richmond to hear the concerns of residents first hand.
“One thing people are concerned with are delayed trips and cancelled trips,” Moffatt said. “And if you miss the bus coming back to Richmond from downtown, sometimes you can’t just catch the next bus. You can only take the 283.”
Moffatt said that part of the problem for Richmond commuters downtown is that the only option for them is the 283 bus.
“A lot of people hop on it who are just going to Pinecrest,” he said. “But they can take a number of buses. The 283 might be just the next one for them. For people heading to Richmond, the 283 is their only option.”
OC Transpo used to run a rural express service, but it was discontinued. The service also added a cost for rural taxpayers. Moffatt said that some of the stops for the 283 have been eliminated to try and discourage partial trip riders.
While the issue of getting back to Richmond is one issue, it is not the only one.
“The construction on the bridge (on McBean Street) has caused some problems,” he said. “The drivers are supposed to be doing an extra loop, but sometimes that is not happening.”
Moffatt said he expects results to improve service as a result of the meeting.
“There were some takeaways for the staff,” he said. “It was good for them to be there. They are committed to getting back with solutions to move forward.”
With more than 1,700 new homes planned for Richmond in the next several years, increased bus service will be an ongoing issue. Eventually, the bus routes will connect to the light rail station at Bayshore.
“There will be options,” Moffatt said. “And we are in a better situation than Half Moon Bay and Barrhaven. The growth in Richmond will be slow, and we will be able to address the needs of the community as they happen and increase services.”