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Unlimited No-Charge Transit for December: Frequently Asked Questions

Why are you offering unlimited no-charge transit in December?

A motion was passed by City Council on October 13 that allowed for one full month of unlimited no-charge transit service in December 2021. It is intended to recognize the effect of the O-Train disruptions on our customers.

What happens if the O-Train is not running by December?

Unlimited no-charge transit in December is to be provided for one month following the resumption of service on O-Train Line 1, as directed by Council. With the partial resumption of service on Line 1 beginning November 12, December is the first full month after resumption of service for which no-charge transit can be offered.

Will you be putting on extra buses to allow for more riders?

Not initially. Current transit ridership is below 50 percent of normal levels from before the pandemic began, and so there is plenty of room to welcome new customers to the system.. We will continue to monitor ridership on all bus routes and if we see overloads on buses, we will try to add larger buses or extra trips if resources are available.

Because fares are no-charge, can we board at the back of the bus at all stops (not just at stations)? And even on a 40-foot bus?

Like we do on Canada Day, we will be encouraging operators to open all doors where practical to do so, to make it faster and easier to board.

Why would you choose December? Why not November? Most people travel less in December, so less people buy passes.

Transit plays an important role in supporting our local economy and job creation by connecting residents with small businesses and restaurants across the city, especially during the holiday season. We want to encourage people to get out and travel during this time. December is also the first full month of service following the re-launch of O-Train Line 1. As per Council direction to recognize the disruption the loss of O-Train service caused to our riders, OC Transpo is offering unlimited no- charge transit in December now that full service has resumed.

Will single fares also be no charge? Or just monthly passes?

All travel on OC Transpo will be no charge. Single ride fares and monthly passes will not be available.

How will Presto AutoRenew passes be handled?

We will be changing the pass price to one cent for AutoRenew contracts for December. This should allow your Presto AutoRenew contract to process and load your pass without charging the full fare for December. This makes sure that your contract won’t be cancelled and will pick up again in January.

The one cent charge will be returned as a credit to the Presto cards of AutoRenew pass holders.

How will I know not to tap my Presto card?

On buses, the fare boxes and smartcard readers will be covered. At O-Train stations, the fare gates will be open, and there will be signs beside the ticket machines.

What if I tap my Presto card by accident?

You shouldn’t be able to tap on a fare gate, and there will be decals on the bus to tell you not to tap. But if you do tap a Presto card on a bus by accident and pay a
single-ride fare, we will send a refund to your Presto card around January 10, 2022.

Your refund will load to your Presto card automatically between January 11 and February 9 if you tap your card to pay for a fare on a bus or fare gate in that time. If you happen to not be travelling in that time period, you can go to an OC Transpo ticket machine or Shoppers Drug Mart / Loblaws / Real Canadian Superstore location and ask that they query your card to load your refund.

What if I put cash in the fare box by accident?

You shouldn’t be able to put cash in the fare box – it should be covered. If, by accident, the fare box is not covered, ask the operator for a transfer and give us a call at 613-560-5000.

What if I need to transfer to an STO bus?

Unlimited no-charge transit is available on OC Transpo only.

If you normally purchase an OC Transpo monthly pass or if you have a U-Pass you can board STO buses with no additional fare required. Please tap your Presto card or U-Pass and the operator will allow you to board. The bus card reader may flash red, but this is just to track the taps.

If you do not normally purchase an OC Transpo monthly pass, you will need to pay on the STO bus. You can pay with cash, or if you travel on STO regularly, you may want to purchase an STO Multi card. Information on where to buy STO products is available at this link: STO Service Points.

But if I pay cash on an OC Transpo bus, it’s cheaper than on the STO bus. Can’t I pay on an OC Transpo bus and get a transfer for STO?

We will not be accepting cash payments on OC Transpo, and will not be issuing transfers. Please pay your first cash fare when you transfer to STO. Or, if you travel on STO regularly, you may want to purchase an STO Multi card. Information on where to buy STO products is available at this link: STO Service Points.

What if I renewed my discount by phone or mail, and need to tap my card in December to load the discount?

If you renewed your EquiPass, Community or Access discounts in late November or in December, you need to query or tap your card within 30 days to load the new concession. You can do this by going to a ticket machine at an O-Train station, any Shoppers Drug Mart / Loblaws / Real Canadian Superstore location, select City of Ottawa Client Service Centres, or the Rideau Centre OC Transpo Customer Service Centre and ask that they query your card.

When the card is queried, your new discount end date will be loaded.

What if I use Single Ride Vouchers?

All travel is free on OC Transpo in December, so there is no need for you to use a Single Ride Voucher. Save them for later. There’s an expiry date on the vouchers that will tell you how long they are valid.

I’m a university / college student. Will I get a refund on my U-Pass fees?

Our U-Pass partner institutions will be credited for the month of December for all U-Pass holders. These institutions will determine any rebates owed to students with U-Passes.

I’m a high school student, and I get a no-charge pass from the school board. How will that work?

Just follow the same instructions as set out for all customers. If you use STO, please tap your Presto card when you board. On OC Transpo, you do not need to tap your Presto card when you board or go through a fare gate.

Will Para Transpo be no-charge for December as well?

Yes, Para Transpo will be no-charge.

Does this include Para Transpo rural trips?


I buy a ParaPass on ParaPay using autorenew. Will I be charged?

No, you will not be charged for December.

I am a Para Transpo customer who buys Taxi Coupons. Will Taxi Coupons be no-charge for December?

Taxi coupons are accepted like cash when you use a regular taxi, not a Para Transpo vehicle. Because no-charge fares are applicable only on OC Transpo buses

and trains and Para Transpo minibuses and taxis, you will still be required to purchase and use taxi coupons for your fares in a regular taxi.

I bought a multi-day pass at an OC Transpo Ticket Machine on November 30 / at the end of November.  Can I get a refund for the days in December?

Please keep your multi-day pass and call us at 613-560-5000. We will review on a case-by-case basis.