A Guide to Public Transportation in Ottawa

January 4, 2016

A Guide to Public Transportation in Ottawa

Ottawa may not be New York City, but it can be difficult to navigate, so why not save a couple of bucks and let someone else do the driving? You aren’t necessarily giving up any freedom – Ottawa has so many public transit options with very flexible hours. And when you consider the cost of a rental car, gas and insurance, the trains become even more appealing.

So whether you need to get to a downtown meeting quick, hit up a recommended Ottawa restaurant, head out into the suburbs, or meet up some friends for fun activities in Ottawa, there’s a quick and easy way to do it. Here’s how:

 

Use the Metro

Ottawa’s Metro is a subway system of rapid transit that runs on four different lines in four different directions. Three of the lines intersect in the Downtown area, and they’re color-coded for easier navigation. The subway terminals are designed nicely, and are generally very clean. The subway can be a bit busy, but it’s quick, affordable, and hits a lot of tourist destinations. Visitors will also love being able to get special tourist travel passes that grant them unlimited access to all public transit for a pre-determined duration depending on how long you want access and what fare you pay.

 

Take the Bus

Ottawa Island buses are operated by STM, who also run night busses, express runs, and shuttles that go to the airport. With hundreds of stops per day, and 24/7 lines running, you’ll have no problem getting to any destination you need to within the core of the city. The most helpful tool for visitors trying to plan a route for themselves are the Transit Shelters. These digital maps show all of the different routes, and you can punch in where you want to go. The kiosk will plan your route and let you know exactly where you are.

Lines going out further than the island are run by AMT, CIT, and MRC, which gives the communities outside of the Greater Ottawa area more access to the downtown core and metro station. The fare system works on a zone formula. This means that it costs as much as your most pricey zone to ride the metro and bus. If you’re staying for more than a couple of days, you should get a pass. That will avoid miscalculating fares and save you money. They also have a Travelling Alone At Night Program for the buses in Ottawa, so women can be dropped off as close to where they need to go as possible.

 

Ride in a Taxibus

A taxibus is a taxi, but it’s also a bus. Taxibus is a public transportation for those who need to go where the buses and trains don’t. There are over 15 different places they go out to, but you have to call ahead and reserve a spot and let them know which stop you want to be picked up at, so plan carefully. The Taxibus runs on most routes between Monday and Friday, and doesn’t run on holidays, so it is a good form of public transport, but it doesn’t cover long weekends, so make sure to have alternative travel arrangements.

 

Consider Carpooling

One of the great features of carpool in Ottawa is the amount of assistance you can get. AMT offers carpooling hookup services, which are completely free and link people together who can carpool from point A to B with a fare that’s been discussed between both parties. Because the city has a lot of people looking to commute on a daily basis, you should be able to find a ride no matter where you are and what time you need pick up and drop off every day.

AMT also offers parking passes for their park and ride lots, so you can ditch your car at a specific place and get picked up and dropped off at the lot instead of your home. This is a very ecofriendly option because everyone in the vehicle is reducing their carbon footprint by riding together.

 

Get on a Train

Another option for people looking to branch out to the outer edges of Ottawa is the train. There are six lines that all end up in Ottawa during their travels but also go out into the outer communities like Mont-Saint-Hilaire or Deux Montagnes. These trains are above ground, and there are stations where you can go to purchase tickets and get on the correct train. These routes are also color-coded, so you’ll know which train to take. It’s way better than using confusing numbers. You can also go online and plan your routes ahead of time. The transit system in Ottawa is really helpful in that respect.


It’s fairly obvious that public transport in Ottawa is alive and well, and they have a ton of great programs to help keep people safe while they ride the buses, trains, metro, or ride with another commuter. The public transport system here is also highly organized, which is nice and somehow not all that complicated although there are so many groups trying to seamlessly work together. Locals may like to complain but compared to most cities, they don’t know how good they’ve got it!

 

All our furnished apartments for rent in Ottawa are ideally located near public transportation options to ensure you have easy access to everything. Browse our wide selection them HERE !

 

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