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OC Transpo

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OC Transpo
From top left to bottom right: O-Train Line 1, O-Train Line 2, and an articulated OC Transpo bus.
OwnerCity of Ottawa[1]
Area servedOttawa, Ontario
Gatineau, Quebec
LocaleOttawa, Ontario
Transit typeBus service, light rail, bus rapid transit, paratransit
Number of lines170 bus
2 light rail
Number of stations18 in use
27 under construction
Annual ridership110,596,700 (2023)[2]
Headquarters1500 St. Laurent Boulevard
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Began operation1948; 76 years ago (1948)
Number of vehicles740 buses, 13 diesel multiple units, 39 Citadis Spirit
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge
Subway style map of the two o-train lines and various bus rapid transit lines crisscrossing the city
Rapid transit lines in Ottawa as of 2019. Local and connexion routes not shown

OC Transpo is the organisation that operates and plans public transport in the city of Ottawa. OC Transpo's system includes bus rapid transit, light rail, conventional bus routes, and door-to-door paratransit.

OC Transpo was established in 1948 as the Ottawa Transportation Commission, and currently operates two urban rail lines, 11 bus rapid transit (BRT) lines, and 170 regular bus routes. Ottawa is served with 18 urban rail stations, 43 BRT stations, and two intercity railway stations. Urban rail in Ottawa is called the O-Train, and the BRT is called the Transitway.

The network is designed as a hub and spoke system, where local bus routes feed Transitway lines, which themselves feed into O-Train lines.[3][4]

Some OC Transpo routes also serve Gatineau in Quebec during peak periods.

In 2023, the system had a ridership of 110,596,700.

System overview[edit]

OC Transpo's network is divided into several types with different service patterns and structures. Most routes are designed to feed into transportation hubs, such as major shopping malls or O-Train stations. O-Train lines have a high level of service, with full grade separation and high frequencies. Rapid bus routes are mostly grade separated, with 15 minute headways or better. Frequent and Connexion routes are similar, but operate on regular city streets and only during peak periods, respectively.

O-Train Line 1, also called the Confederation Line, is an electric crosstown rail line which uses an underground rail tunnel to bypass surface traffic in the city centre. It is operated like a regional metro, with high frequencies (5 minutes),[5] high top speeds (80 km/h),[6] and full grade separation. It connects to several Transitway lines on both its east and west ends, and also connects to a intercity Via Rail station. In the future, there are plans to extend the line into eastern and western suburbs stage 2 and 3 of expansion.[7]

O-Train Line 2 (the Trillium Line), out of service since 2020 due to ongoing expansion construction, is a single tracked diesel line, built on a disused mainline freight railway. It was created as a low cost ($21 million) rail pilot project, going between Bayview station and Carleton University.[8] It was criticised as connecting Carleton University to nowhere, although now Bayview is an interchange station with line 1. The line is currently under expansion to bring it south of the Ottawa greenbelt, as well as the airport, through a branch line. When reopened, the line will operate less frequently than line 1, with a train every 12 minutes.[9]

O-Train: Frequent rail service.
 98   39  Rapid routes: Frequent, express bus routes running on the Transitway.
 40   11  Frequent routes: Frequent routes operating every 15 minutes or better between 6:00 am and 6:00 pm on weekdays. Most routes feed O-Train lines.
 55   162  Local routes: Low frequency connecting and feeder bus routes.

Routes numbered in the 100s generally do not connect to the O-Train Line 1.

 284  Connexion routes: Peak-period routes connecting communities to the O-Train.

Numbered in the 200s.


 404   456   505   622 

300s: Shopper routes

400s: Event routes for the Canadian Tire Centre 450s: Event routes for Lansdowne Park/TD Place 505: Internal number for OLG Sno-Bus during Winterlude festival 600s: Intermediate school and/or secondary school routes


Early history[edit]

Ottawa's first public transportation system began in 1886 with the operation of a horsecar system.[10] The horse-drawn streetcars travelled back and forth from New Edinburgh to the Chaudière Bridge.[10] The horsecar would remain a staple means of public transportation until 1891 after Thomas Ahearn founded the Ottawa Electric Railway Company. This private enterprise eventually provided heated streetcar service covering the downtown core.[10] Electricity had been employed in a few places in Ottawa since the first demonstration of the incandescent bulb in 1883; the earliest were Parliament Hill and LeBreton Flats.[11] In May 1885, electric lighting commenced in the city. In 1885 council contracted Ottawa Electric Light Company to install arc lamps on the city's streets.[11]

1970s: Formation, early Transitway and first strike[edit]

Transit in Ottawa was provided by the Ottawa Transportation Commission until 1973 when transit service in the city and its suburbs was transferred under the auspices of the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton. Its formal name was the Ottawa-Carleton Regional Transit Commission, but the service was promoted in both English and French under the OC Transpo name, whose OC initials are derived from Ottawa-Carleton. This renaming to OC Transpo was a break from the practice of simply retaining the central cities' (when they existed per se) transit system's name following regionalization as was the case for Toronto's Toronto Transit Commission and Hamilton's Hamilton Street Railway.

The 20-day 1979 strike was fought over a wage difference of a nickel and became known as "the five-cent bus strike". A pay increase of 16.5% was rejected by the union.[12]

1980s: Transitway[edit]

In the early 1980s, OC Transpo began planning for a bus rapid transit system, the Transitway.[13] Construction of its various stations and segments followed over many years. The first segments were from Baseline to Lincoln Fields in the west end and from Lees to Hurdman (two immediate stations) in the east end.

1990s: Second strike and shooting[edit]

The second strike for OC Transpo ran from November 25 to December 16, 1996. The strike ended under arbitration.[12]

On Tuesday, April 6, 1999, former OC Transpo employee Pierre Lebrun, armed with a Remington Model 760 pump-action rifle, shot six people, killing four, in a shooting spree at OC Transpo's St. Laurent Boulevard garage, before killing himself.[14][15] Lebrun was fired in August 1997 but later reinstated, and quit in 1998.[15][16]

An inquest into the shooting revealed Lebrun was the subject of teasing for his speech impediment, and that his complaints to management were not investigated.[17] The inquest revealed an "atmosphere of bullying", described as a "poisoned" environment by an employment equity manager.[15][17] In response, OC Transpo instigated zero-tolerance policies regarding workplace harassment, a new employee-management communications program, and increased training on workplace respect.[18] However, studies in 2003 and 2004 found there to be lingering elements of a negative work environment,[18] and employee-management communication was reported to be strained following the 1996 strike.[15]

2000s: Trillium Line, expansions and third strike[edit]

OC Transpo launched the O-Train diesel light rail transit (DLRT) service on October 15, 2001, as a pilot project. The service consists of one north–south line, with major points of interest including Carleton University and the South Keys Shopping Centre. In late 2014, this line became known as Trillium Line, or O-Train Line 2, to allow for expansion of the O-Train brand.

The province of Ontario ordered the amalgamation of the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton and its component municipalities into a single City of Ottawa municipality. When the new local governance took effect in 2001, OC Transpo became a department of the new city.

Following amalgamation, a bilingual replacement backronym for "OC" was sought, but no suitable candidates have been found. The anachronistic acronym has been kept, instead of the costly task of replacing the decals on all buses, bus stops, bus stations, and promotional material. Thus, "OC" is an orphan initialism.

A new section of the southwest Transitway opened on December 12, 2005, between the Nepean Sportsplex and Fallowfield Station. The new section runs parallel to Woodroffe Avenue and was built at a cost of $10 million. The new section has no stations and has replaced service along Woodroffe Avenue between the Nepean Sportsplex and Fallowfield. The Transitway was further expanded south into Barrhaven with Strandherd opened on January 2, 2007. There are also long range plans for other extensions in the Orleans and Kanata areas to keep up with more growing communities.

Following the 2006 municipal election campaign, Larry O'Brien was elected as mayor and cancelled the light rail expansion project, per a campaign promise. City Council decided to annul the project by a margin of 13–11 on December 14, 2006. The proposed northbound expansions from Bayview onward were later revived with the Confederation Line project, contracted in December 2012.

OC Transpo drivers, dispatchers, and maintenance workers under Amalgamated Transit Union local 279 went on strike December 10, 2008, at 12:01 am.[19] The main causes of the strike were disagreements between the City of Ottawa and the union regarding scheduling, payroll and seniority. Rona Ambrose, the Federal Minister of Labour ordered a union membership vote on January 8, 2009, on the city's contract proposal[20] in response to a request from mayor Larry O'Brien.[21] Both the city and the union published their positions on respective websites.[22][23] Vote results released on January 9, 2009, revealed that of those eligible to vote, 64% rejected the offer.[24]

Meetings were held with a mediator throughout the month, but talks were repeatedly broken off. The ATU had requested to send all issues not related to scheduling to arbitration, which the city refused as it requested all issues to be sent to an arbitrator. As the strike entered the 50th day, Ambrose, who had initially refused to table back-to-work legislation, announced that such legislation would be introduced. However, on January 29, the city and the ATU reached a deal that sent every issue to binding arbitration, thus ending the 51-day-long strike.[25] On February 2, 2009, the O-Train Trillium Line started service after being out of service due to the strike. Buses followed the following Monday, February 9, 2009. Not all buses returned at once and OC Transpo said that all buses and routes were due to return by April 6, 2009. OC Transpo offered free transit for a week. December pass holders could either use their December passes until March or could get a refund. December pass holders were also subject to a 60% discount on March passes in order to win back transit users.

2010s: Confederation Line and bus collisions[edit]

In December 2012, Ottawa City Council approved a major infrastructure project to build a 12.5 km east–west light metro line, the Confederation Line through the downtown to replace the existing BRT by 2019.[26][27]

On September 18, 2013, a double-decker OC Transpo bus, running on Route 76 from Barrhaven to downtown at 8:48 a.m., collided with a Toronto-bound Via Rail passenger train at a level crossing, equipped with active warning systems, near Fallowfield Station in Ottawa's southwest end. Six people on the bus (including the driver) were killed and at least 30 others were injured, of which at least eight were critically injured. There were no injuries or fatalities to passengers or crew of the train. The cause of the accident is unknown at this time.[28][29][30] It was announced the following year that Route 76 would be retired and changed to route 72 in recognition of those who died in the accident.[31] Incidentally, this route was spotted under a crossing gate at the Barrhaven Crossing Plaza on November 6, 2014; although no accident occurred, it sparked a lot of fear and questions in Barrhaven on whether these crossings are safe.[32]

On January 11, 2019, another accident involving a double decker occurred, this time at Westboro station. The bus, operating Route 269, collided with the station's shelter shearing off part of the roof. Three people were killed (initially reported as two passengers, and one bystander from the platform. Later corrected to all three deaths were passengers) and 23 people were injured.[33]

After several delays, the Confederation Line opened to the public on September 14, 2019. This line is also marketed as O-Train Line 1.

2020s: O-Train maintenance and COVID-19 intervention[edit]

The Confederation Line continued to suffer from reliability issues throughout the first quarter of 2020.[34] This is in contrast to the Trillium Line, which had a lower ridership and different technology, but generally better reliability.[35] In response to this, and due to lower ridership in 2020, OC Transpo scheduled several temporary closures of Line 1, allowing Rideau Transit Maintenance to work on the line and improve it's reliability. During maintenance, the R1 bus route replaced train service.

On March 16, 2020, as a preventative measure during the COVID-19 pandemic, OC Transpo began limiting front door boarding and seating to riders with accessibility needs. All other customers were required to board at the back of the bus. As a result, cash fares were neither accepted nor enforced on buses, but a valid fare was required to begin a trip at an O-Train station. Hand sanitizer was installed on all Line 1 stations, and later installed at most Transitway stations. From June 15, 2020, to June 10, 2022, the agency required employees and riders to wear face masks while riding busses and trains, and inside all stations.[36]

On May 3, 2020, the Trillium Line was shut down for construction and expansion. Bus replacement service is provided by Route 2 from Bayview to South Keys.

On August 8, 2021, an empty train on the Confederation Line derailed while switching tracks after leaving Tunney's Pasture after one of the ten axles derailed. There were no injuries.[37]

On September 19, 2021, a train with passengers on the Confederation Line derailed before entering Tremblay station after two axles became dislodged from the second car.[38] After leaving Tremblay station in a derailed state, the train increased speed to about 35 km/h, crossed a bridge over Riverside Drive, struck a signal mast and switch heater and finally came to a stop between Tremblay and Hurdman station using train-initiated emergency braking. There were no injuries.[39][40]

The city of Ottawa's public transport system has historically catered to exclusively 9 to 5 public employees, a population that largely switched to remote work during COVID-19. This, combined with decades of underinvestment and thinned resources, has led to OC Transpo having a poor ridership recovery rate from before COVID; sitting at only 70% as of 2023.[41] Council estimates that ridership will return to pre pandemic levels by 2030.[42]

The low ridership recovery rate put OC Transpo into a rough financial position, forcing them to raise fares, and potentially forcing them to cancel Stage 3 of the O-Train expansion. Despite this, city staff remain hopeful for the future of the project, with current mayor, Mark Sutcliffe, pointing out that the project would have always require funding from the federal or provincial governments anyway, and so OC Transpo budget shortfalls shouldn't affect it.[42] City staff view this as a natural growing pain of such a large city building project, and are hopeful and confident they will get through it, through various means, including raising taxes, increasing fares, or lobbying higher levels of government.[42]


OC Transpo has a fleet of 944 buses that run on regular streets, all of which are fully accessible low-floor buses.[43] OC Transpo uses many articulated buses to provide service. Some of the routes that run on the Transitway, including the city's most-used bus routes, are served almost exclusively by articulated buses (e.g., routes 57, 61, 62, and 75). Peak hour connexion routes are served primarily by Double Decker buses.

The O-Train (Trillium Line) at Carleton University

In 2001, a pilot diesel-powered light rail service project, the original O-Train known today as the Trillium Line, was introduced. The local government announced expansion plans for the light rail to other parts of Ottawa, including a possible link to the Ottawa International Airport. Service to Gatineau would have also been possible, over the nearby Prince of Wales railway bridge over the Ottawa River. However, on December 14, 2006, City Council led by Mayor Larry O'Brien cancelled the north-south light rail expansion project. A new model of the project, to have a citywide integrated light rail system, was made, with work beginning in 2013 and will be completed in 2023. This new project envisions fully grade separated rapid transit service on the original Transitways from Baseline station or Moodie dr. in the west to Trim Park and Ride in the east. The gap between the east end west branches of Transitway will be replaced by a new downtown Subway tunnel under Queen and Rideau streets with three underground stations. The O-Train Trillium Line will be extended to Riverside South and will include a spur to the Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport, thus creating direct airport to downtown service. As for the suburbs, they will be served by 65 km of new Transitways. The first phase of the project, called the Confederation Line includes 12.5 km of rail between Tunney's Pasture and Blair, including the downtown subway.

Bus bunching on Slater street.

Ottawa has a relatively extensive rapid transport network compared to other North American cities of its size, and relatively high ridership. This was initially seen on the Transitway, a bus rapid transit system where buses travel on dedicated roadways and lanes. The Transitway lines that converged onto the city centre created a transportation bottleneck, with buses bunching heavily on city streets, with this in turn constricting the effective capacity and frequency of the entire Transitway network. In 2019, interior parts of the Transitway networked were converted to light rail, including a downtown rail tunnel, to massively increase the system's capacity, and to allow OC Transpo to reallocate its limited bus fleet to provide service elsewhere. The decision to convert the BRT network to rail was chosen due to trains being significantly more cost effective for the capacity needed, and an underground bus tunnel being completely impractical for the scale of service required.[44][45]

For a number of years, OC Transpo has carried bicycle racks on some routes as a part of the "Rack & Roll" campaign. These racks carry up to two bicycles at the front of the bus and fold up against the bus when not in use. As of 2021, all buses in the fleet are equipped with bike racks.[46] Cyclists may use the racks at any time of day, provided there is room for the cyclist on board the bus. Traditionally, the racks have been available only between April and October, and there has been much debate over continuing the program throughout the year. Bicycles can be brought on board O-Train at all times of the year. As of 2023, though, a permanent winter pilot has been introduced.[47][48]

There are four bus depots located throughout the city. The largest and headquarters is located at 1500 St. Laurent Boulevard, with two other smaller but frequently used depots being located at 168 Colonnade Road (Merivale Garage) and the other on Queensview Drive (Pinecrest Garage). A major new maintenance depot which opened its doors in 2010 is located on Industrial Avenue.

A public survey done by OC Transpo in 2023 found that the average length of a trip is 51 minutes. In the same survey, feedback provided by participants (both riders and drivers), indicated a strong desire for better reliability above all else.[49] In addition, Ottawa has struggled with public transport reliability in recent years, further contributing to lost ridership, with public transport advocate Kari Elliott saying "As the system becomes unreliable, we end up in this death spiral. Because it’s unreliable, people are taking their car. And because they’re taking their car, traffic is really bad. And then transit gets stuck in traffic and becomes even more unreliable".[50]

Both advocates and bus drivers suggest that OC Transpo paint more bus lanes throughout the city, as a measure to retain and grow reliability and ridership.[50][49]


OC Transpo has 170 bus routes (as of October 6, 2019)[51] that are grouped both by their number and the colour with which they are represented on system maps and on bus stop flags.

A major route overhaul and changes in the network will occur in spring or summer 2024 due to the opening of line 2 and 4. Most existing routes will see changes, with some routes being taken out completely. There will also be many new routes to accommodate these changes.


Inside an OC Transpo bus
OC Transpo D60LFR articulated bus in downtown Ottawa

Ottawa primarily uses Nova Bus LFS regular buses and New Flyer D60LFR articulated buses. The city also uses Alexander Dennis Enviro500 MMC double decker buses. All buses are mostly, but not entirely, low floor, and have two or three sets of doors.[52]

For the O-Train, Ottawa uses custom Alstom Citadis Spirit electric light rail vehicles on line 1. On line 2, imported European train models are used, Alstom Coradia LINT and Stadler FLIRTs. Despite being referred to locally as light rail, the line 2 trains are actually heavy rail vehicles.[45][9]

Line 1's Citadis Spirit trains have been riddled with issues, and have garnered a bad reputation by the media and the public. In the first two years of service, they suffered repeated faults, including, among other things, derailments, computer failures, and cracked wheels. The Citadis Spirits were custom built for O-Train line 1 by Alstom, the French rolling stock manufacturer, and the Ottawa Light Rail Transit Public Inquiry report found that there were several causes for the vehicles' poor reliability. The vehicles push what an LRT can do, and are treated more like heavy rail subway vehicles than the light rail vehicles they are in reality. In addition to this, the OC Transpo workforce was inexperienced operating the vehicles, and the construction of line 1 and the trains that run on it was heavily rushed (including a very rushed testing phase), as well as human error, and an unrealistically low budget for the project, all contributing to their faults.[53][54]

The New Flyer D60LFR was chosen for the bus network because of a deal New Flyer made to the city in August 2010, replacing 226 of its older underpowered 60-foot D60LF articulated buses (purchased between 2001 and 2004) with brand new D60LFR models. The bus exchange was completed in March 2011. OC Transpo was given incentives as part of the deal, including rebates on the trading-in of the old buses and a credit on new parts. Eighty new D60LFR articulated buses were also purchased from New Flyer, bringing the combined total to 306 buses.[55][56] All of the 2001–2004 D60LFs are now retired. Some of the older New Flyer D60LF sixty-foot articulated buses have caught on fire during the summer of 2006 and the Summer/Fall of 2010, due to overheating engines, effectively putting them out of service.

On July 12, 2011, OC Transpo announced that all remaining high floor buses were retired[57] and thus all OC Transpo buses now have low floors, can be further lowered for strollers and walkers, and have flip-out ramps for wheelchairs. The full fleet is air-conditioned for Ottawa's short hot and humid summers.

Ottawa announced that it would be adding 75 double-decker buses to its fleet on August 24, 2012, and were put in service in October. They were previously trialed in 2006 and 2007 citation. They were added to the fleet primarily for their higher seated capacity compared to the articulated buses in use (86 versus 55), and are employed mainly on commuter oriented "Connexion" routes. Part of their introduction was also due to them being seen as spectacle that could increase system ridershp, and in practice, 41 percent of riders and drivers say they prefer the bilevels, while 30 percent prefer single deck buses. The decision to purchase double decker buses was also supported by them being less expensive to run than articulated buses, and taking up less road space.[58][59]

The maintenance of the fleet was complicated by adding buses from another manufacturer (OC Transpo already had buses from New Flyer and Orion before purchasing the double-deckers from Alexander Dennis). In cold and wet weather, condensation is prone to collecting on the roof of the upper deck, dripping on passengers below.[60]

Two of the new double-decker buses were in service as of September 10, 2012, and were temporarily used on peak period routes 22 and 30 (serving Orleans). This lasted until a sinkhole on Regional Road 174 was fixed in mid-September.[61]

Bus fleet[edit]

As of December 8, 2023, OC Transpo has a fleet consisting of 740 buses, made up of 7 bus models:[62]

Make Model Number in fleet Notes
Nova Bus LFS (4th generation) 249
New Flyer D40i 'Invero' 55 Some in the process of retirement
New Flyer D60LF 51 Articulated buses
New Flyer XE40 'Charge' 4 Electric buses
New Flyer D60LFR 304 Articulated buses
Alexander Dennis Alexander Dennis Enviro500 78 Double-decker buses
Glaval Titan 82 Para-Transpo minibuses

Electric buses[edit]

Electric bus on a route test prior to officially beginning service, pictured in January 2022

OC Transpo has purchased 4 electric New Flyer XE40 buses, which were delivered in November 2021, and entered service in early 2022.[63] On June 7, 2021, a plan was announced that, if approved, would see 450 electric buses purchased by 2027, and full fleet electrification by 2036.[64]

Rail fleet[edit]

Make Model Number in fleet Notes
Alstom Coradia LINT six 2-car trains Used on the Trillium Line (line 2) since 2015. Will be used on Airport Line (Line 4) in 2023
Alstom Citadis Spirit 34, 50 m long LRVs Used on the Confederation Line (line 1)
Stadler Rail Stadler FLIRT seven 4-car trains To be used on Trillium Line (Line 2) once it opens in 2024

Expansion fleet[edit]

OC Transpo currently has seven four-car DEMU Stadler FLIRT from Stadler Rail for use when the Stage 2 improvements of the Trillium Line are completed. When these trains are introduced, the Alstom LINT DMU trains will be used on the Airport spur, between South Keys and Airport stations.[65]

An expansion fleet of 38 Alstom Citadis Spirit LRVs will also be built for the Stage 2 vehicle additional requirements for use on Line 1.[66]


OC Transpo currently has 5 bus garages and two rail yards that house the fleet, and are also where vehicle maintenance is carried out. The garages are as follows:[67]

  • St. Laurent Garage. Opened in 1959, capacity of 275 buses. OC Transpo headquarters are also located on property.
  • St. Laurent North Garage. Opened in 1987 and has a capacity of 207 buses. Located adjacent to St. Laurent Garage.
  • Industrial Garage. Opened in 2010 as a purpose-built garage for 167 double-decker and articulated buses.
  • Pinecrest Garage. Opened 1976 and has a capacity of 193 buses. Located near Pinecrest Rd. and Highway 417.
  • Merivale (Colonnade) Garage. Opened in 1978 and has a capacity of 215 buses. Located in Nepean between Merivale Rd. and Prince of Wales Dr. Formerly known as the Colonnade Garage, as it is located on Colonnade Rd. South.
  • Walkley Yard. Houses the Trillium Line DMU fleet. Located in the CNR Walkley Yard, off of Albion Rd. North. Opened 2001.
  • Belfast Yard. Constructed to house the Confederation Line LRV fleet. Complete in 2018. Located on Belfast Road, with the rail access in between Tremblay and St Laurent Stations.


OC Transpo fare history (1996–2018)

OC Transpo fares can be paid in cash or with a Presto card. The latter method must be purchased in advance at various retail outlets, ticket machines or stations.

Transfers are printed for passengers upon boarding by the driver (cash only). Transfers are integrated in the Presto cards when using the e-wallet. Such transfers are valid:[68]

  • for 90 minutes when issued during weekdays or Saturday, from 6:30 am to 6:00 pm
  • for 105 minutes when issued Sunday, or from either 2:45 am to 6:30 am or 6:00 pm to 10:30 pm during the rest of the week
  • until 4:30 am the same day when issued from midnight to 2:45 am
  • until 4:30 am the following day when issued from 10:30 pm to 11:59 pm

In 1951, OC Transpo had a fare of 10 cents, equivalent to $1.22 in 2024 dollars. The fares have since increased on a regular basis, although discounted fares were previously available with tickets. In 2012, a senior fare of $2.00 was introduced, although it was increased in subsequent years.

Current fares as of January 1, 2024 are:[69]

  • $3.85 for adults 18+, and youth 13–17
  • $2.95 for seniors
  • $1.75 for EquiPass and Community (Presto card only)
  • Free for children 12 and under

The adult, youth and senior fares consist of cash fares. These fares receive a 5¢ discount when paying with O-Payment (credit card), Presto (only physical cards are accepted), ParaPay or debit.[69]

DayPass and multi-day passes[edit]

OC Transpo long-term and day passes as of January 16, 2023[69]
Duration Price per pass Price per day Category
1 Day $11.25 Individual/Family
3 Days $27.75 $9.25 Individual
5 Days $44.50 $8.90 Individual
7 Days $52.75 $7.53 Individual
1 Month $43.25 $1.40 Access/Community
$47.75 $1.59 Senior (65+)
$58.25 $1.94 EquiPass
$96.75 $3.22 Youth (6–19)
$125.50 $4.18 Adult

The monthly pass, introduced in 1976, offers the lowest price per day for unlimited rides on OC Transpo. Paper passes were discontinued by 2017, with Presto monthly passes being the sole option.

OC Transpo introduced the DayPass at $5 ($7.16 in 2017 dollars) per voucher or $6 ($8.60 in 2017 dollars) cash on July 1, 1998.[70] By 2000, the cash price matched the $5 voucher price.[71] The price for both increased to $6 ($7.64 in 2017 dollars) in 2003,[72] and since then, DayPass fares were gradually increased to reach $10.25 in 2017. DayPass vouchers were no longer sold since July 1, 2009, leaving only cash and tickets on the bus as a method of payment.

The Family DayPass was launched concurrently with the DayPass. At launch, it was available on Sundays and statutory holidays, allowing up to two adults and youth (age 12 or older) to ride the bus with up to four children (age 11 or younger) at the same price of a DayPass. With the discontinuation of DayPass vouchers on July 1, 2009, the Family DayPass was also made available on Saturdays.[73]

On January 1, 2018, OC Transpo launched multi-day passes (3, 5, or 7 days). This allows multiple days of DayPass service, up to a week, to be purchased in advanced at a lower cost. Multi-day passes cannot be used as a Family DayPass, cannot be loaded on a Presto card and are emitted as a paper transfer. Passes are activated immediately upon purchase.

Discontinued fares[edit]

Express fares were premium peak period bus routes, treated as a second fare zone by OC Transpo. Express bus passes for adults and students, and regular senior bus passes, were also accepted. On January 1, 2017, the Express fare was discontinued, and Express routes were rebranded as Connexion routes. Since this change, the entire OC Transpo network is treated as a single fare zone. The agency also cited the Confederation Line (Line 1), which opened in September 2019, as a reason for discontinuing the Express fare.

Rural Express fares were introduced on six routes on July 2, 2002, as a third fare zone. The cash fare was $4.75 (equivalent to $6.48 in 2020 dollars), while the ticket fare was $3.40 (equivalent to $4.64 in 2020 dollars) by using four tickets. Rural Express bus passes for adults and students, and regular senior bus passes, were also accepted. The cash fare increased to $5 in 2006, and later to $5.25. On July 2, 2012, the Rural Express fare was discontinued, with all Rural Express routes being repurposed as Express routes. Para Transpo continues to operate a rural fare zone.

Other prices[edit]

PRESTO card $6.00 + minimum load $0.05-value
Gold Permit parking pass $61.50 per month
Regular Park & Ride parking permit $27.25 per month
Bikesecure $6.00 key fob + $10.00 per month

Tickets for the O-Train light rail line were initially sold for $2 each at ticket vending machines in 2002 ($2.60 in 2016 dollars) when paying cash, lower than the $2.50 bus cash fare but pricier than the $1.70 ($2.21 in 2016 dollars) ticket fare at the time. Train tickets can be exchanged for a bus transfer on board of an OC Transpo bus. O-Train ticket prices increased over time, but remained lower compared to bus cash fares until July 2013, when OC Transpo increased O-Train ticket prices from $2.85 to $3.40 to match the bus cash fare. This represents an increase of over 19% and happened after the Presto card launch completed. This card is accepted at O-Train stations for a lower train fare. Bus tickets and DayPass vouchers cannot be used on the O-Train. Bus transfers, however, are accepted.

Monthly and annual passes are also available for all route classes with cost differences for adults, students, and seniors. Passes require an OC Transpo photo ID card, which is available at extra cost. Additionally, Ecopasses (reduced-rate monthly passes) are available through participating employers in the city, providing applicable OC Transpo riders with single-card indefinite passes in exchange for a flat bi-weekly, semi-monthly or monthly payroll deduction.

In July 2008, fares were increased by 7.5% because of a shortage in funding for the City of Ottawa. This fare hike was supposed to be in effect until 2010 including a 6.5% hike in 2009. This meant Ottawa residents saw regular adult passes rise from $73 a month to $81 and adult express passes from $90 to $101 a month. However, cash fares remained the same.[74]

On 18 January 2013, OC Transpo starting the final testing of its Presto Card deployment as part of the NEXT-ON program. Ten thousand customers were able to order a Presto Card online or pick one up at select OC Transpo transitway stations, activate it, and use it for OC Transpo's final testing of the loadable cards. As of January 2013, over 10,000 Presto cards have been distributed. A limited number of Presto cards were available at Baseline Station on 22 January 2013, and at Fallowfield Station on 24 January 2013. The final full release date for Presto in Ottawa was on 18 May 2013. Cards can be either loaded with cash and used like tickets, or loaded with as a monthly pass, which unlike the photo pass, is usable by family and friends. As of 2017, yearly and monthly photo passes have been discontinued, as they are not accepted at the new fare gates being installed along the O-Train.

The Province is encouraging all Ontario transit systems to adopt Presto, and the OC Transpo installation has been complex, requiring installation of readers at the front doors of all buses and all doors of articulated and double-decker buses, as well as a computer with a Presto fare database on each bus. The database was originally refreshed every night with updates of the day's Presto fare purchases when the buses return to the garages; this required users to wait up to 24 hours before cash loaded onto their card accounts is recognized by the readers. In 2014, the readers were upgraded to refresh up to 6 times a day using cellular data. There are now new fare gates and ticket vending machines at all O-Train stations. Unlike the TTC and GO Transit facilities, OC Transpo did not launch full Presto ticket machines until November 2017, when all O-Train Line 2 stations except for Bayview featured a new fare gate system. The full machines allow riders to check and reload a card prior to boarding.

In January 2021, OC Transpo launched the Bikesecure program which allows secure bike parking spots at a select number of transit stations to be reserved for a monthly fee.[75]

Para Transpo[edit]

Para Transpo is an accessible paratransit service available to Ottawa patrons who find it extremely difficult or impossible to use the conventional OC Transpo routes. Service is provided directly to the residences of eligible users who book trip appointments with a call centre at least one day in advance. Para Transpo drivers will provide some assistance to passengers to board designated vehicle and to access building entrances.[76]

Para Transpo operations were contracted to First Student Canada, previously operated by Laidlaw. On January 1, 2008, the City of Ottawa assumed complete control of this service.[76]

The transit strike of 2008 did not interrupt Para Transpo service. However, Para Transpo service did encounter delays, facing the traffic increase due to the strike.

Safety and security[edit]

All major stations are equipped with various safety and security features for the public, including callboxes, payphones, CCTV cameras around the stations, along with well lit and heated shelters. On train platforms, there are warning strips and barriers to keep passengers at a safe distance from the tracks.[77] On vehicles, the newer D60lfr models were installed with passenger assistance alarms (PAAs) at the rear of the bus. They were also added on double decker busses toward the upper deck. When pressed, it will notify the operator of an emergency, incident, and/or someone in need of assistance. Other safety features on transit busses include handrails for holding when standing, and CCTV cameras providing surveillance. After 9 pm, Nightstop can be used to request the operator to stop at a closer location than that of a specific bus stop. OC Transpo also employs many Special Constables to patrol stations and respond to calls involving OC Transpo vehicles, stations, or stops, and work in close partnership with the Ottawa Police Service.


Advertising on OC Transpo buses is contracted to Pattison Outdoor Advertising. Advertising on bus shelters is contracted to Branded Cities.[78]

Amalgamated Transit Union – Local 279[edit]

The Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 279 is the OC Transpo employees' union with of over 1800 members consisting of bus and rail operators as well as other staffing positions within the company, including mechanics located at various garage depots throughout the city.

See also[edit]



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  • Woods, Shirley E. Jr. (1980), Ottawa: The Capital of Canada, Toronto: Doubleday Canada, ISBN 0-385-14722-8
  • Van de Wetering, Marion (1997), An Ottawa Album: Glimpses of the Way We Were, Dundurn, ISBN 0-88882-195-6

External links[edit]