Students and staff at Canterbury High School voiced their frustration with public transit reliability and to demand better from the beleaguered transit system at a recent meeting of the Ottawa Transit Commission.
“Students at Canterbury are continuously late to school due to poor public transportation services,” Danica Coote, a co-president at Canterbury, told the commission.
“Education is incredibly important and students should not be late to school on a regular basis because buses are late. They are missing out on valuable learning time in the classroom.”
Coote added that the poor reliability creates stress for students and becomes outright dangerous during cold spells.
“I would dress in several layers in an attempt to stay warm but there were still many times where I was close to tears because I was in so much pain from the cold,” said Coote.
Another Canterbury student said some classmates are resorting to other means to get to school on time.
“I know many people who have started driving to school more often,” said Kenney Vanderlinde. “I think I’ve had friends whose parents have had to start driving them because of bus cancellations and they’re just not able to get there on time anymore” on transit.
An OC Transpo staff member said the issues can be attributed to increased maintenance in recent months and also the cancellation of a number of school bus routes. But the staff member said the OC Transpo will continue to try and improve the routes that stop at the high school.
Canterbury has a unique arts program that draws students from all over the city. During the meeting, Stittsville Coun. Glen Gower noted that many school bus routes have been cancelled over the years by the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority, leaving public transit as the only option for many.
“It’s a school board funding and transportation challenge that’s now falling on the backs of OC Transpo and the city, so there’s some unfairness there in the funding,” said the chair of the Transit Commission.
OC Transpo, however, continues to struggle with bus service reliability.
During the meeting, staff noted that the on-time performance for frequent bus routes (those operating every 15 minutes or more frequently) was 61 per cent in December, slightly higher than the 58 per cent reported in October but still far short of the 2024 target of 99.5 per cent reliability.