OC Transpo cancels free New Year’s Eve service

OTTAWA — OC Transpo has reversed course on its usual plan to deliver free service on New Year’s Eve.

In a pair of tweets Tuesday evening, the transit service said it had decided to cancel the free service across the network in light of public health advice.

“This decision was made in consultation with Ottawa Public Health and supports the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health’s recommendation that all Ontarians stay home unless necessary for work, grocery shopping & appointments.”

Last week, OC Transpo said it would continue to offer the free service because of the risk of impaired driving and that Ottawa Public Health supported the decision.

“The risks associated with impaired driving remain prevalent, and by offering no-charge transit with mandatory masks and other safety precautions we can help reduce impaired driving while maintaining a safer transit system,” said OC Transpo General Manager John Manconi in a statement to CTV News Ottawa. “It is our priority to ensure that a safe and practical choice exists for those travelling on New Year’s Eve.”

A provincewide shutdown will begin across Ontario on Dec. 26 and last for 28 days in Ottawa. The provincial government is urging all residents to remain at home and only travel for essential reasons, such as going to work, getting groceries, or attending medical appointments.

OC Transpo offers no-charge service on New Year’s Eve every year.

The transit service is operating on a reduced schedule this week and next due to the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

At transit commission last week, OC Transpo said ridership was about 28 per cent of pre-pandemic levels across the entire network, with more riders on buses and fewer on the LRT.

–With files from CTV Ottawa’s Josh Pringle.

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