I'm here at the corner of Carling and Maitland and this right here is where I used to catch the bus every day to go to high school. Every morning I would stand right here at 7:30 and I'd wait for the number 116 bus.
That was many, many years ago but for my whole life I've been a big believer in public transit. I've been an OC Transpo customer my entire life. My whole family uses it regularly.
Public transit is a vital service for Ottawa residents. Now this bus route doesn't exist anymore. There isn't even a stop here because travel patterns have changed and it's no longer needed.
Those are the kinds of decisions OC Transpo has made over the years to make sure there's service where people need it most. And it's no secret that since the pandemic the travel patterns of many Ottawa residents have changed dramatically.
Employees aren't going downtown as often. People are going to different places and they're traveling at different times. Some routes are busier and some are getting used much less often.
So our public transit system needs to adapt, as it always has, to changing demands. Even when there hasn't been a pandemic, OC Transpo has regularly reviewed all of its routes to make sure they're staying in step with demand.
So change is coming and change is never easy. So I want to share some thoughts with you on our plans. First of all, OC Transpo has been listening to residents to understand your needs.
We know that passengers want more reliable and consistent service. You want more frequent service in high - volume areas. And I heard about this a lot during the election campaign last year. You don't want to see buses that are empty or almost empty on routes that are underused.
Now here's another important factor. Next year we're going to be launching Line 2 of light rail. That will make it a lot easier and faster for people to get to Carleton University and to get downtown from the south end of the city.
And there will be a convenient link to the airport as well. With this new light rail line and changing demand in other areas OC Transpo will reallocate some of its resources and also eliminate redundancies.
There will be more buses in areas with higher demand and fewer in areas with less demand but more frequent and more reliable service in others. This is not about cost cutting.
In fact, we're adding more money to the public transit budget next year. This is about making responsible decisions, sometimes even tough decisions. So we're allocating our resources wisely and improving reliability. It's about recalibrating the network to suit changing demands. It's about connecting with this new light rail line.
Again, I wanna underline this important fact. In 2024, we will be spending more on public transit. In fact, we'll be spending more than we ever have at any other time in Ottawa's history. Even though ridership is down we are still investing in public transit.
We're managing our investments very carefully to make sure we're protecting public transit as a vital service. We have to deliver buses where they are needed, where there is demand and not where there isn't. That's the responsible way forward.
Public transit, including Line 2 of light rail, is a big part of our future. That's why we have to keep investing wisely, adapting to your needs and improving reliability to serve the residents of Ottawa.