--- STO reflects on pandemic and looks ahead to 2021 strategy
The Société de transport de l'Outaouais (STO) held its last board of directors meeting of 2020 on December 17. The transport service reflected on the unique challenges this year posed, including sanitary safety and decreased ridership. “The STO worked closely with public health authorities to put in place several protective measures that allowed its customers to enjoy essential public transport service in a safe manner,” said Alexandre Meloche Dorris, director of communications for STO. “For the safety of employees, the STO has implemented all of the CNESST's [Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail] recommendations.”
Meloche Dorris says the transport service also set up a new management plan in 2020 that offered a necessary level of public transport, that would help the organization not exceed the limit of its public funds. “Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the STO has stayed on course on many of its projects,” he said.The projects that went ahead include the addition of new carsharing stations in Aylmer, two new guaranteed accessible lines in Aylmer for customers with functional limitations, and a new option on the transit app that allows customers to see the number of passengers on buses.
The STO also continued its study on the possibility of a light rail transit line that would connect Aylmer to downtown Ottawa’s LRT system, according to Meloche Dorris. A drafted plan was presented to the Ottawa City Council on November 16, which awaits feedback. He says a few more comparative studies are required to arrive at a final plan for this project and looking ahead to 2021, the transport service has to still confirm a financial commitment from the federal government for the rail line.
Meloche Dorris says the STO is still waiting for funding from the emergency assistance program introduced by the provincial government. However, the public transport service remains in good shape because it managed to save $11 million over the course of this year. Looking ahead, the STO would like to return to full service by the end of 2021. Other focuses in the new year include the development of a new accessibility plan and the extension of the Rapibus corridor between Labrosse and Lorrain.