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In the NCR, the public transit system includes buses, an expanding light rail system and partnerships with other regional or rural transit providers that serve people living in the outlying areas.

Bus service

The Ottawa-Carleton Regional Transit Commission (OC Transpo, www.octranspo.com) is the provider of public transit within Ottawa’s urban area. The bus service uses a large, modern fleet of standard and articulated buses. The buses run on city streets, as well as a combination of dedicated bus-only lanes and roads that run through the city; this is known as the Transitway. OC Transpo provides regular, rush hour express, rural and rural express services.

Many buses and trains allow passengers who have a pass to board at the rear of the bus, instead of entering at the front where cash fares are paid. When paying a cash fare, obtain and keep a paper transfer as proof of payment. Passengers unable to prove they have paid their fares, when asked during periodic spot checks by transit fare officers, may be removed from a bus or train and are liable to be fined. Passengers who choose to pay cash when boarding must have the correct amount, as bus drivers do not provide change. Bus drivers do not issue receipts.

Passengers may also purchase a PRESTO pass (online, by phone or at a OC Transpo Service Centre), a swipe card that can be reloaded online and used on all OC Transpo-operated vehicles. It costs $6 to buy a card and there is a minimum purchase of $10. Users should expect a wait time while the card is activated (up to 48 hours). The PRESTO pass automatically provides discounts to seniors, students and other eligible persons and renders paper transfers unnecessary. Additionally, Ottawa PRESTO passes can be used in Toronto, where they also have this system.

The regular cash fare for an adult is currently $3.50. With a PRESTO pass, the cost drops to $3.45. Regular monthly adult passes are $116.50. Bus tickets are available at many locations in the city, including grocery stores, pharmacies, lottery kiosks and convenience stores. A Day Pass, which costs $10.50, along with regular tickets and Community Passes, can be purchased at OC Transpo sales and information centres, or from a bus driver.

The OC Transpo website provides a helpful trip planner. The most popular routes offer “low floor buses” allowing ease access for disabled and elderly passengers. They also offer a Park & Ride service, which provides those living outside of the downtown core with designated parking areas near Transitway bus stations. This service allows people to park close to high-frequency transit routes and make the remainder of their journey into the city by bus.

Société de Transport de l’Outaouais (www.sto.ca) operates the bus service in Gatineau. Some routes cross into downtown Ottawa to provide convenient transportation between the Parliament Hill and Byward Market areas and Gatineau. Tickets for Ottawa and Gatineau buses are honoured by both services.

Light Rail

The O-Train Light Rail Rapid Transit service runs from theGreenboro Transitway Station in the south to LeBreton Flats in the north. With five stations, the O-Train enhances service to Carling Avenue, Confederation Heights and Carleton University. Note that bus tickets are not accepted on the O-train. Riders can use valid bus transfers, Day and Monthly Passes and PRESTO cards to access this service. Alternatively, you can purchase an O-train ticket. These are available from designated machines at all station platforms and cost $3.50.

Biking The National Capital Region has more than 600 km of bike paths, many of them along scenic rivers, wooded areas and canals. Cycling on the streets is also permitted. Many routes feature special bike lanes to make commuting safer. In areas without designated bike paths, biking in traffic can be a challenge. But many bikers do it. A map of the City of Ottawa bike paths can be found at www.ottawa.ca, the National Capital Commission under the “Capital Pathways” canadascapital.gc.ca or Google Maps. Printed maps are available at information booths along bike trails, tourist/information centres and City Hall and other locations. Bike rental information can be found at: www.rentabike.ca.


Ottawa is served by seven taxi companies. Fares can be paid by debit or credit card, but the driver should be informed beforehand if you plan to use them. In-car security cameras protect drivers and passengers. The fare between downtown and the Ottawa airport is about $36 not including tip, which is normally 10-20 percent of the fare. Travel time and fare can be estimated by visiting https://www.taxifarefinder.com/. The rideshare service Uber operates in Ottawa. This service allows individuals to book a ride through an application on their smartphone. The service is safe and the fares are generally cheaper than taxis (except on holidays and peak hours). For more information visit www.uber.com or download the Uber app on your smartphone.

Inter-city trains

Ottawa’s train station, located at 200 Tremblay Road, just east of downtown, is served by Via Rail (www.viarail.ca) with connections to Toronto and Montréal. There is an OC Transpo bus stop just outside of the station, at which disembarking rail passengers can find buses to the city centre or the eastern suburbs. Those who wish to disembark in the southwest part of the city can do so at Fallowfield Station. Via Rail fares vary with the day and time of travel, how far in advance the ticket is purchased, and class, which can be economy or business. Non-refundable tickets are cheaper.

Examples of one-way routes and fares:

Ottawa – Montréal: approximately 1.5 hours, with fares ranging from about $33.00 to more than $190.00

Ottawa – Toronto: approximately 4 hours, with fares ranging from about $60.00 to more than $330.00

Inter-city buses

Ottawa Central Station is the primary inter-city bus terminal in Ottawa. It is located at 265 Catherine Street near Bank Street. Most buses serving the station are operated by Greyhound Canada (www.greyhound.ca).

Destinations from Ottawa include:

  • Toronto, with connections to U.S. destinations
  • Montréal, with connections to the U.S., Québec City and the Maritimes
  • Syracuse, with connections to New York City and Philadelphia
  • Sudbury, with connections to Western and Northern Canada
  • Examples of one-way routes and fares:

    Ottawa – Montréal: approximately 2 hours 25 minutes, starting at $25.00

    Ottawa – Toronto: approximately 5 hours 40 minutes, starting at $44.00

    Ottawa – New York: approximately 12 hours, starting at $92.50