Driver barriers coming to OC Transpo buses

OTTAWA – The Transit Commission has approved the installation of permanent operator barriers on OC Transpo buses.

Pending council approval of the 2021 Capital Budget, the procurement process would begin in 2021 and barrier installations would start in late 2021.

“OC Transpo continues to explore and implement new measures to improve safety for customers and operators,” city staff released in a statement following yesterday’s (Oct. 21) meeting. Industry-wide, more transit agencies are moving towards the installation of barriers to increase the overall safety of bus operators. In addition to existing safety features and policies, installing permanent barriers on buses will create a physical barrier preventing access to the bus operator’s area, which can help prevent assaults. Barrier shields can also help prevent the transmission of viruses, like COVID-19.”

The total cost to retrofit OC Transpo’s current fleet is $6 million, and any future buses purchased would include operator barriers.

OC Transpo launched Operation Mask Up on Oct. 9 to help change the behaviour of the small number of customers failing to comply with OC Transpo’s mandatory mask policy.

Between Oct. 9 and 18:

  • 15 customers were denied access to the system for refusing to wear a mask
  • Seven customers were fined for not wearing a mask
  • 454 customers were told to adjust their masks as they were not wearing them properly
  • 23 customers had medical exemptions
  • 25 written warnings were issued prior to switching to the issuance of fines on Oct. 13

Young children and customers with a disability or medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask are not required to wear one. For more information on Operation Mask Up, please visit

An operational update on O-Train Line 1 and bus service was presented at the commission meeting. Rideau Transit Group (RTG) continues to progress through its rectification plan to address the reliability issues affecting the LRT and ultimately OC Transpo customers. RTG and Alstom have continued the daily inspection regime resulting from the identification of wheel cracks, and the replacement of all the train wheels has started. RTG has been able to increase the train count and meet OC Transpo’s daily service requirements while continuing the inspections. The Transportation Safety Board’s investigation into the wheel crack issue is ongoing.

Transit ridership in Ottawa has been 30 per cent of usual levels since the start of the fall service change. Ridership is the highest its been since the pandemic began in mid-March 2020. OC Transpo continues to monitor ridership as more customers return and will make adjustments as necessary.

On Oct. 18, OC Transpo opened a new bus-only roadway as an extension of Raven Road that connects Bronson Avenue and the Carleton University campus. The new roadway shortens travel times and improves service reliability for buses travelling through the Carleton campus. It supports the current replacement buses during Stage 2 construction on O-Train Line 2 and will remain in place after Line 2 reopens.

OC Transpo began testing a “Virtual Line” at the Customer Service Centre at the Rideau Centre on Oct. 5, which supports physical distancing measures as recommended by Ottawa Public Health. This new system allows customers to take a number upon arrival and watch the call-out screen for their turn in line. In the coming weeks, customers will be able to opt-in to receive a text alert when their spot in the queue is approaching and will also be able to check the wait time in advance and book an appointment remotely.

For more information on city programs and services, visit or call 311 (TTY: 613-580-2401).