The string of buses heading east on the MacKenzie King Bridge was at least 20 deep on this midweek afternoon.
Mere inches separate them.
While that’s a common sight — all part of the daily grind in downtown Ottawa — it could be a thing of the past if light rail comes to the Rideau Centre as the latest plans suggest.
Commuters rush to and fro. Many are heading home, while others are on their way to work or school.
A few spare 30 seconds to chat.
One rider says he recently moved from Vancouver and sold his truck. Right now, he’s relying solely on OC Transpo.
“This is the worst,” he said, motioning to the line of buses.
One more month, he said, and he’s getting a car.
“I can’t take it anymore.”
Others polled seemed indifferent about the possibility of light rail being linked to the mall. “I don’t think it will impact me either way,” said Kathy Sarault.
A young woman shrugs, saying she’s happy with the current service and setup.
Changes via LRT, though, will be noticeable.
“Any bus that comes from Elgin, Bank, or other streets will terminate at MacKenzie Bridge,” said Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury, adding buses coming from Manor Park, Vanier and Overbrook will continue using Rideau St.
That means feeder buses will stop at the mall.
“It’s only your local, like No. 5, No. 16, No. 2, No. 12, that will remain,” said Fleury.
The Rideau Centre should still be a main hub for riders.
“We want it to be integrated with the LRT and LRT is east-west, so if you’re going north-south, those buses remain and they need to stop and start somewhere,” he said.
The latest proposal eliminates the LRT entrance at the National Arts Centre, opting for the mall, giving it what Fleury calls a “broader catchment area.”
“The Transitway can only absorb so much, and during the afternoon peak, it’s bumper-to-bumper,” said Fleury.
It’s so busy, riders exit the bus as soon as they can, and walk the rest of the way.
“It’s probably faster to walk, so we see that the system is congested,” he said.
Fleury boards Route 8, which quickly pulls out. Within seconds, two buses take its place.