The four worst rush hour commutes in Ottawa are north, south, east and west.The best way I found to make the commute better is to be at work an hour early and to leave an hour after everyone else whenever possible.Going north to Gatineau, the bridges start getting crowded at 4, or even 3:30 these days as many government workers have shifted schedules to help them with the traffic.
Generally avoid the expressways during rush hour.Particularly if there is a hockey game and you’re going to Kanata.There are a lot of diagonals in Ottawa and a lot of wide side streets.
Riverside Drive or Queen Elizabeth/Prince of Wales, for example, get you to Barrhaven and back much faster than Woodroffe or — even worse — Merivale/Maitland.Going east or west, consider the parkways along the river.These routes are all much more scenic too.
Going south, Bank Street is a fast drive when there isn’t construction, perhaps because everyone expects it to be busy.For everywhere else, going one or two blocks off from the normal traffic often gives you a smooth ride.Meadowlands instead of Hunt Club or BaseLine, for example, or taking Main and Smyth if you’re going east.
If you’re moving to a new city, it’s a good idea to explore different routes.
Having lived in Ottawa since the mid 60’s until 2016 I have good experience in travel in Ottawa.In the mid 60’s travel was easy as the population in the east, west and south was not bad.Starting in the 70’s Kanata in the west, Orleans in the east and Barhaven in the south started to expand greatly.
The main thoroughfare was the Queensway East and West and Woodroofe from the south.It quickly became obvious the quickest commute was by bus but a lot of people that had taken their cars kept doing do.With the start of bus only lanes on the main arteries and downtown encouraged many to consider the bus.
As of 2017 Ottawa was building a light rail system much of which is going to be underground in the city centre.Ottawa is very spread out due to amalgamation.I have since moved to Kingston and difference is like night and day.
One can drive to and from in the matter of minutes anywhere in the city and many stores have different locations in the city making shopping much easier.I am retired now so commuting is way down on my list.
In the non-winter months, the only real way I’ve been able to avoid traffic is to bike in to work.It takes me about 25 minutes to ride in from Les Galleries de Hull to Carleton University, in either direction, no matter the time of the day.In the evenings, it easily takes 1 hour and 15 minutes to make it back IF I’m lucky and make all the right connections.
I can maybe make it in 45 minutes in the mornings (better connections and traffic flows then, I think).At any rate, I’ve got about 2 hours on the bus (it’s been worse the few times I’ve driven).And it takes at most 50 minutes on the bike.
Same story when I used to live in the East End, except it used to take me 50 minutes to bike in.Still faster than busing (on average), or the car.And cheaper than both options.
And better for my health.The drawbacks are pretty clear: if there’s no bike path, you’ve got to take the road and with all the construction in the city, road quality is far from ideal.It’s more dangerous too.
I don’t think drivers are especially bad or disrespectful, but cars weigh 2 tons, so momentum is not in the cyclist’s favour, and frankly, pretty much everyone would be upset after spending time in gridlock.This only really works from April to November in the best case scenario.
I cannot comment on the day to day commutes with too much authority any more, since I retired over ten years ago.However, I do read, talk to commuters and occasionally take the bus during rush hour, so I do know a little about it.Assuming the destination is downtown, there are no ‘good’ commutes, short of living downtown within walking distance of your workplace.
But most knowledgeable people agree that living in the East end, i.e., Orleans, would result in the worst commute, followed closely by commutes from Quebec, then Kanata.
I would not recommend living in the East end (Orleans, or even Gloucester) if you’re going to work in Kanata, attend Algonquin college or otherwise commute to the west end.Likewise, don’t live in Stittsville if you’re going to work towards the east of the city.Ottawa is very spread out and the sheer distance between a western/eastern suburb and the other side of the city can be very long.
I also wouldn’t try to use my own car, either.Public transport, walking or biking if at all possible.For the daily 9 to 5 job -type commute, there’s extra busses during rush hour and separate bus lanes.
The commute from Orleans to Kanata, or vice versa, is probably at the top of miserable commutes in Ottawa.From people I know who have had to do that commute, the way some of them made it better was to move closer to where they work.
Taking the 5 from the St. Laurent Mall to get to UOttawa Campus.It takes on average an hour or so.The 94 or 95 take 10 minutes.
Walking takes 45.Biking takes 10 minutes.
If you take the bus in the morning like some avoid the #95, instead take an express or another bus.