COVID-19 and the TMP Update

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the City’s transportation system. It has affected how, when, and where people travel. Transit ridership, auto traffic, pedestrian volumes, and cycling trips have all fluctuated over the course of the pandemic, and things are still in a state of flux.

In terms of planning for the future of transportation in Ottawa we face many uncertainties, but some things are certain:

  • The pandemic has changed the way many people travel in our city. Some of those changes are short-term and will revert to the way they were before the pandemic; other changes will be with us for some time, but will eventually recede; and still other changes are permanent, representing a “new normal” for transportation in Ottawa.

  • We have witnessed major shifts in transportation behaviour. For instance, the uptake of working from home (in many cases, compulsory) has been well beyond even the most optimistic historical projections.

  • Travel patterns and traffic volumes have not yet settled into a “new normal”. Many emergency restrictions and temporary conditions are still in place, and will be for some time.

  • There will be a continued need for travel in the future, including the need for a safe, reliable public transit system to serve the travel needs of Ottawa’s growing population.

The City and other authorities across Canada and around the world are monitoring the evolving impacts of the pandemic on transportation and considering both short-term and long-term implications. The update of Ottawa’s Transportation Master Plan will need to take these into account. As travel patterns continue to fluctuate, the City is actively monitoring traffic volumes, transit ridership, and other transportation metrics to help track the impacts of the pandemic. The City will be collecting additional data in the future to use for the TMP Update.

There continues to be uncertainty about the future, so we cannot predict exactly what will happen. However, we can use “scenario planning” to develop a set of possible futures and then develop plans based on those different futures. Over time, as conditions stabilize and uncertainties about the future diminish, we can refine our scenario planning and more confidently plan for the future.

In the meantime, we are moving forward with planning for Ottawa’s transportation future based on the information available to us, and in consultation with stakeholders, other levels of government, elected officials, and residents.

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