OC Transpo expects to return to full service by April 6, but many city councillors are concerned that the Transitway will be overwhelmed if express service doesn’t come back earlier.
As more buses become available, service will be returned in stages. Starting Saturday, normal weekend service will be back. On Monday, the Transitway, major routes and some local suburban routes will be operating.
The first express buses will not be running until Feb. 23, but those will be only the busiest routes.
Most of the express routes are not expected back into service until March 16 or April 6.
“Our emphasis is to introduce as many local routes, which have the highest ridership at the outset, and key routes in the suburban area to link people from their homes to the Transitway in the most efficient manner,” said OC Transpo general manager Alain Mercier. “We do not have enough buses to offer peak-period express service, so what we have to do is offer the most connections in the city for people to get to their destination.”
However, several suburban councillors have said the transit infrastructure will not be able to accommodate the extra riders who would normally take an express bus.
Councillors Shad Qadri and Jan Harder said they would be encouraging their residents to continue using alternatives to the bus, because the park and rides would fill up too quickly and the buses would be too packed.
“I don’t think the buses can hold it. They were already full before the strike,” said Coun. Marianne Wilkinson.
Mercier admitted it was not possible to accurately predict the increased demand, so they have set aside 40 buses that can be dispatched to areas where passenger bottlenecks develop.