Old Ottawa East’s Transit Drought Finally Comming To An End

By Ron Rose

Old Ottawa East residents will be pleased to hear that OC Transpo will finally restore regular bus service that connects the Ottawa General Hospital campus on Smyth Road, via Main Street to the Civic Hospital on Carling Avenue. Once the new Light Rail Transit (LRT) service commences, a new #55 bus line will provide that essential link.

The new route #55 will travel every 20 minutes, beginning at Elmvale Acres, continuing down Smyth Road, stopping at the Ottawa General and CHEO, then along Main Street and east on Lees Avenue to the Lees Transit Station.

It will then continue on Lees Avenue to Mann Avenue and Greenfield Avenue, briefly south on Main Street to turn west on Hawthorne Avenue, over Pretoria Bridge and west on Catherine Street. It will turn south on Booth Street to Carling Avenue with a stop on Carling Avenue at the Civic Hospital, continuing westward end at Bayshore Shopping Centre via Highway 417.

The new #55 OC Transpo bus line, which will be introduced once Ottawa’s LRT service commences, will extend from Elmvale Acres to Bayshore shopping centres, with stops at both the Ottawa General and Ottawa Civic hospitals and at the Lees Avenue LRT station. Supplied Image

The new #55 OC Transpo bus line, which will be introduced once Ottawa’s LRT service commences, will extend from Elmvale Acres to Bayshore shopping centres, with stops at both the Ottawa General and Ottawa Civic hospitals and at the Lees Avenue LRT station. Supplied Image

Much more convenient

“The new #55 will replace much of the current #101 service which travels along Lees and Hawthorne avenues west-bound”, according to David Pepper, Manager, Customer Services at OC Transpo.

The added bus route will be good news to those residents of the community who work at the hospitals, have appointments, or wish to visit friends and loved ones. Many OOE residents were upset when the previous #16 route stopped service to the Ottawa General campus in 2011, in part because of the need to take taxis or pay expensive parking charges at the hospitals just to attend appointments or visit patients.

“Residents of Old Ottawa East will find it much more convenient to reach downtown and areas west once the new LRT is up and running”, according to Pepper. “Residents can take a #55 to the Lees LRT station, seamlessly board a west-bound Confederation Line train, and within a very few minutes they will be downtown or as far west as Tunney’s Pasture, where they will find connector buses to their ultimate destination”.

Prior to 2011, OOE residents enjoyed a direct bus route to both of Ottawa’s major hospital areas on Smyth Road and Carling Avenue. However, in 2011, OC Transpo undertook a “network optimization” which included cuts and consolidations within its network. One decision was to eliminate that part of the #16 bus route that connected Old Ottawa East to the General Hospital campus on Smyth Road. According to OC Transpo, at the time, only 500 passengers a day used that portion of the route, and cutting it would save $577,000.00 Ever since the #16 route has terminated at Hazel Street.

Existing routes continue

OC Transpo did make some accommodations following the change to Route 16. In April of 2012, a limited 5X bus route between Mann Avenue/Chapel Street and the General Hospital was initiated. Two
one-way services travelled toward the General at midmorning and at noon, while two separate one-way trips travelled in the opposite direction in the afternoon. The routes proved not overly convenient to transit users and, in 2013, the 5X service was replaced by two extended round trips by the #16X between St Paul University and the General campus.

The existing #5 route from Billings Bridge Shopping Centre to the Rideau Centre, and the #16, which leaves Saint Paul University at Main Street and Hazel Street and meanders between the 417 and the Ottawa River to Britannia Beach will continue to serve Old Ottawa East.

Lees on-ramp

The beginning of the LRT will bring one additional benefit for local residents: the long-awaited opening of the eastbound Highway 417 on-ramp from Lees Avenue. Residents have been assured that, within six months of the opening of the LRT, the Lees Avenue onramp will be reopened to traffic, eliminating the long detour over the Pretoria Bridge, behind Loblaws and up onto the Metcalfe east-bound ramp onto the Queensway.

Back in 2013, Old Ottawa East’s only eastbound access onto Highway 417 from Lees Avenue closed with the planned reopening for 2017.

The closure was made to allow widening of Highway 417, but the new lanes were immediately required to get OC Transpo buses over the Rideau River during the LRT project while the transitway bridge immediately to the west of the Lees campus of the University of Ottawa was converted from bus to train use.

Once the LRT opens – something that has been delayed a number of times – Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation (MTO) will resurface Highway 417 from Nicholas Street to Ottawa Road 174 and will repurpose the new lanes from bus to general use; this will include re-opening of the Lees Avenue on-ramp.

“The start date of this work is governed by the implementation schedule for the Confederation Line Light Rail Transit project,” says MTO.

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Filed in: FP, Front Page, News

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