Searching for a successor to John Manconi

John Manconi, head of OC Transpo and General Manager of the Transportation Services Department of the city of Ottawa has announced his retirement.

The city faces a momentous decision when choosing a successor. City staff are not elected, but they shape the city in a thousand different ways.

Are you a resident of Ottawa? What would you look for in a new Transportation Manager? Someone who believes in “Vision Zero”? Someone who would build safe cycling paths? Dedicated bus lanes?

I’m looking for someone willing to conduct meaningful consultations with residents and take the advice of experts.

The Ottawa Transit Riders has co-signed a letter with Free Transit Ottawa, the local Ottawa transit union, ATU 279, Ottawa Black Diaspora Coalition, ACORN Ottawa, and Horizon Ottawa calling on the city to consider the needs and wants of residents in selecting the new Transportation Manager.

 

The press release is here: https://www.horizonottawa.ca/press_release_manconi_replacement

Want to get involved? Email the Ottawa Transit Riders at [email protected]

(Vision Zero is a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all.)

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John Manconi, directeur d'OC Transpo et directeur général de la Direction générale des transports de la ville d'Ottawa, a annoncé son départ à la retraite.

La ville est confrontée à une décision capitale dans le choix de son successeur. Les employés de la ville ne sont pas élus, mais ils façonnent la ville de mille façons différentes.

Êtes-vous un résident d'Ottawa ? Quelles sont les caractéristiques que vous espérez trouver chez un nouveau directeur des transports ? Quelqu'un qui croit en la « Vision zéro » ? Quelqu'un qui construirait des pistes cyclables sécuritaires ? Des voies réservées aux autobus ?

Je cherche quelqu'un qui soit prêt à mener des consultations sérieuses avec les résidents et à suivre les conseils des experts.

Le groupe des usagers du transport en commun d'Ottawa ont cosigné une lettre avec Free Transit Ottawa, le syndicat local du transport en commun d'Ottawa, ATU 279, la Coalition de la diaspora noire d'Ottawa, ACORN Ottawa et Horizon Ottawa, demandant à la ville de tenir compte des besoins et des désirs des résidents dans la sélection du nouveau gestionnaire des transports.

Vous voulez vous impliquer ? Envoyez un courriel au groupe des usagers du transport en commun d'Ottawa à :  [email protected]

(La vision zéro est une stratégie visant à éliminer tous les décès et les blessures graves dus à la circulation, tout en augmentant la mobilité sûre, saine et équitable pour tous.)

Traduit avec www.DeepL.com/Translator (version gratuite)

 

 

 

 

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Electric buses coming to Ottawa

The Ottawa Transit Riders group has long argued that public transit is both an essential service that addresses equity in our communities AND a key tool in our battle against climate change.

We are excited to hear Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Catherine McKenna’s announcement today that the Canada Infrastructure Bank is promising a $400-million loan to the City of Ottawa to buy 450 electric buses by 2027.

Electric buses are an essential part of combating climate change. They emit no emissions or particulates which will help to reduce air pollution and benefit those with asthma and other respiratory issues. Electric buses are also quiet, helping to reduce noise pollution in urban areas. From a financial standpoint, electric buses are highly efficient and should have lower operating costs in the long run than diesel buses.

This announcement also signals that Canada is moving towards becoming a leader in producing innovative electric buses. A strong and stable electric bus manufacturing industry in Canadian will help to create good paying, high-quality jobs for Canadians and develop an opportunity to showcase Canadian excellence to the world as more cities continue to electrify their public transit systems.

This investment by the Federal government is a win-win agreement.

However, we still have questions. We ask that the city include experts on their selection panel to ensure that they buy the best Canadian-made buses available. We ask that the complete details of the loan from the Canada Infrastructure Bank be made transparent to the general public.  We want to ensure that 100% of our new e-buses are accessible. As such, we are curious when ParaTranspo buses will be upgraded to electric versions.

The Ottawa Transit Riders group is a proud member of the Keep Transit Moving Coalition, which continues to advocate for permanent federal funding of transit operating costs to improve the reliability, accessibility and efficiency of our whole transit system. Electric buses won’t help transit riders if the city continues to raise fares and reduce service.

And finally, the torrent of abuse on social media that Minster McKenna faces for every announcement is unbecoming of all Canadians. The Ottawa Transit Riders group denounces such sexist comments.

We are excited and hopeful that this announcement will lead to cleaner, quieter buses on our streets and throughout our city. 

 

Some media:

OC Transpo sera 100% électrique d'ici 15 ans

Ottawa plans to become 1st Canadian city with a fully electric bus fleet by 2036

City hopes to have fully-electric bus fleet by 2036

 

Some information about electric vehicles from environmental groups:

Plug-in Canada 

Electric Vehicle Council of Ottawa (EVCO) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A pretty good bus stop

Just because we criticize the city and OC Transpo a lot, doesn’t mean that we always criticize them. Credit where credit is due, here is an example of a bus stop that is quite good.

It’s a detour route on Lafontaine where there is no sidewalk on the West side of the street.

Look how they have created a safe, protected path for people to walk or roll to and from the stop. And a raised bus pad to make it easier to get on and off the bus.

It’s not perfect – no shelter, no bench – but for a temporary stop during a detour? It’s pretty good.

 

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Il est vrai que nous critiquons beaucoup la ville et OC Transpo, mais voici quelque chose qu'ils ont bien fait. Voici un exemple d'un arrêt d'autobus qui est assez bon.

Il s'agit d'un itinéraire de déviation sur Lafontaine où il n'y a pas de trottoir du côté ouest de la rue.

Regardez comment ils ont créé un chemin sûr et protégé pour que les gens puissent marcher ou rouler vers et depuis l'arrêt. Et une plate-forme de bus surélevée pour faciliter la montée et la descente du bus.

Ce n'est pas parfait - pas d'abri, pas de banc - mais pour un arrêt temporaire pendant une déviation ? C'est plutôt bien.

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Winner of worst bus stop competition

And … we have a winner (or loser).

The results of our competition for the worst bus stop in Ottawa are in. As voted by transit riders, the bus stop at Baseline at Zena is the worst stop of 2021.

 

 

This is one of those stops with multiple problems – no shelter so riders are exposed to the elements. No bench so we can’t rest. Plus, no sidewalk or safe way to access a sidewalk unless we step into the busy road or walk in the grass/snow. This stop is inaccessible to anyone using a mobility device such as a wheelchair and difficult to use for those with strollers.

The goal of this competition is to remind the city and OC Transpo that the whole system needs to be accessible and safe and comfortable.

Here are the runners up …

McFarlane where riders have to hang out in the bushes while waiting for the bus, and Prince of Wales, no shelter, no bench, no bus pad, by the side of a busy road.

 

Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond to our survey, tweet, or post about this competition.

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Survey on the worst bus stops in Ottawa

Excuse the delay (we had some technological snags) but here is our survey of the worst bus stops in Ottawa. Do you hate standing by the side of the road, holding onto your umbrella as cars whiz by? What about hiding in overgrown bushes? Or needing assistance to get up a ramp because the stop is so low?

Here's your chance to vote for some problematic stops.

We’d like to remind everyone that a transit system needs to be accessible EVERYWHERE – not just in some places.

Please vote! Please pass the survey around.

Survey on worst bus stops in Ottawa 2021 / Sondage sur les pires arrêts d'autobus à Ottawa 2021

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Les pires arrêts d'autobus à Ottawa

Excusez le retard (nous avons eu quelques problèmes technologiques) mais voici notre enquête sur les pires arrêts d'autobus à Ottawa. Vous détestez rester debout sur le bord de la route, tenant votre parapluie pendant que les voitures passent à toute vitesse ? Et vous cacher dans des buissons envahissants ? Ou avoir besoin d'aide pour monter sur une rampe parce que l'arrêt est trop bas ?

Voici l'occasion de voter pour certains arrêts problématiques.

Nous aimerions rappeler à tous qu'un système de transport en commun doit être accessible PARTOUT, et pas seulement à certains endroits.

Votez ! Faites circuler le questionnaire.

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Still talking about bad bus stops in Ottawa

Last week people sent us tips and pictures of some bad bus stops in Ottawa.

What makes a bus stop bad?

Lack of shelter, lack of seating, low to the ground making it difficult to get on and off buses, poor lighting, no sidewalks to and from bus stop. What else?

I am surprised that no-one sent any examples of bus stops in construction zones. I can remember some bad examples that I’ve had to deal with. Remember the stop for the 12 on Kent at Queen a few years ago? Terrifying. Does that mean that the city is getting better at ensuring transit riders’ safety during construction?

We are running this competition to highlight that an effective transit system is safe and accessible everywhere. It does a person using a wheelchair no good if they can get on their nice accessible bus downtown, but can’t safely get off at the stop closest to their destination.

Thank you for all your submissions and engagement.

Voting will start this week.

 

 

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Looking for Ottawa's WORST bus stop

Transit is about more than buses and trains. We should also be thinking about schedules and comfort. We’re turning our attention to the built environment, to whit, bus stops in Ottawa.

We are inspired by a competition for the sorriest bus stop in North America run by Streetsblog USA where the entries are truly … jaw dropping, and not in a good way. This year’s sorriest bus stop is in Quebec, but honestly all the finalists are terrifying and terrible in their own way.

And the Sorriest Bus Stop in North America Is…

It is painful and irritating and frustrating that transit riders are forced to wait at stops by the side of highways and bike lanes and ditches. It’s such an example of how little some cities care for their residents who ride buses.

So what about Ottawa? Do we have stops in the middle of fields where riders are left exposed to our delightful weather? Do we have stops without ramps that leave people in wheelchairs stranded? Does construction block access to a stop?

Welcome to our first (hopefully not last) competition for Ottawa’s worst bus stop. Send us your suggestions … pictures and addresses. Please submit your entry to Ottawa’s worst bus stop either by emailing it to [email protected] or by tweeting it to @OttTransitRiders

People will be invited to vote for the worst bus stop in Ottawa.

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Last day of Para Awareness Week and a plea from customers

Blog from Kyle Humphrey

Freedom.

It means different things to different people, but essentially it means the ability to make choices for oneself without the permission of another. For example: Deciding to go to the grocery store and grab something for dinner that night, deciding to visit a friend who is having a hard time, deciding to go to the hospital and get a nagging issue checked on. All of these things sound pretty simple, don’t they?

Well what if you didn’t have the luxury of a car? What if you were only able to take a bus? What if that bus only allowed you four round trips per day? What if you needed help getting dressed and had to schedule someone to help you, then needed to book your bus after that? What if you had a compromised immune system and were forced to sit next to someone on your bus instead of taking the next one?

What if you knew a loved one had to face these issues?

Well, if you’re from Ottawa and reading this… chances are someone you love has gone through this before, chances are they’ve gone through it many times. There are thousands of people that rely on a broken service called Para Transpo to get them out of the house and to their appointments, be it social, medical, or otherwise. A system that has had countless advocates speak out for years to hopefully bring about better service to patrons, but to no avail.

Just before the pandemic you could find any number of city councillors fighting for a better LRT service for their constituents, and yet Para Transpo had nobody speaking up for them. It took multiple pleas to the media, and local radio stations finally covering important topics for Ottawa Transit Commission to finally step up and agree to start looking at options for an online booking system that had been a plea from Para Transpo users for years.

Well after ten years of advocacy, customers finally have an online booking system.

That's good, but it could be better. What is needed is a booking application that allows the user to go on and book their bus, see their booking in physical form, book more than 4 round trips in a day, book the same day in the case of an actual social life or emergency doctor’s appointment, or maybe even a job if the flawed bus system allows them to hold stable employment.

Sound familiar? It's a lot like Uber.

It’s not a huge ask, is it?

 

I leave you with this,

If you found yourself waking up one day to a world that didn’t seem to understand the issues you go through or want to make the necessary changes, what would you do? 

 

Well, this is my plea to you on behalf of the many users of Para Transpo,

Please ask your city councillor to support us in this quest for a better, more equitable bus system.

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Results of survey of Para customers

As part of Para Awareness Week 2021, we asked customers of Para Transpo to answer a short survey. Here are the results.

First we asked: Do you feel that ParaTranspo has been taking adequate precautions to protect Para customers and staff from COVID? 

About half (51%) answered “no” to this question.

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Question one: Do you feel that ParaTranspo has been taking adequate precautions to protect Para customers and staff from COVID? 
There is a pie chart with two halves - one says 51% of respondents answered “no”; 48% answered “yes”.

 

Next we asked, If not, what concerns do you have?

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Question two:  If not, what concerns do you have?
There is a bar graph with five vertical bars. The top bar indicates that 54% of respondents chose the answer “operators not wearing masks or wearing masks inappropriately”
The next bar indicates that 50% of respondents chose “use of taxis instead of Para buses”
The next bar indicates that 45% of respondents chose “overcrowding in Para buses”
The next bar indicates that 31% of respondents were willing to add “other” (see below)
The final bar indicates that 22% of respondents chose “too much face-to-face time with operators such as when they have to write down numbers for payment”
NOTE that respondents could choose multiple options so answers do not add up to 100%

 

Some respondents wrote in additional concerns:

  • Interactions between drivers of Para Transpo and OC Transpo drivers; there shouldn't be any cross action between OC drivers and para transpo drivers right now
  • Vaccinate the drivers/operators
  • Bus/taxi cleanliness
  • Lack of cleaning of stuff like shoulder belts
  • Bus is always dirty
  • At one point during the pandemic no distancing at all. Shared the backseat of a taxi with two others. This has since been rectified thankfully

 

We are curious, what would customers of Para Transpo do more of if service improves?

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Question three: If Para Transpo services were improved, what would you do more of?
Here is another bar graph with six vertical bars.
The top bar indicates that 58% of respondents chose “social life and visit friends and family more”
The next bar indicates that 50% of respondents would choose “visit a wider range of locations, like parks (Gatineau)”
The next bar indicates that 33% of respondents would choose “more exercise”
The next bar indicates that 20% are willing to write in further responses (see below)
The next bar indicates that 16% would choose “employment”
The final bar indicates that 16% would choose “school/education”
NOTE that respondents could choose multiple options so answers do not add up to 100%

Some people wrote that they would do other things: 

  • Pick up my medication go to the laundromat get my own groceries pick up some already made food that I just need to have microwave for free
  • There would be so many opportunities that open up. I’d love to do more things on the spur of the moment.
  • Non-urgent medical appointments like getting blood tests or x-rays
  • Not take my electric wheelchair over 5 hours in one day just to get to and from an appointment yes totally by electric wheelchair to and from an appointment more than across the downtown core

 

We wanted to end the survey on a positive note so we asked people “If Para Transpo received a significant, permanent increase in its budget, what would you like them to spend the money on to improve service? (What should their priorities be?)”

 

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Question four: If Para Transpo received a significant, permanent increase in its budget, what would you like them to spend the money on to improve service? (What should their priorities be?)
Here is a chart of seven stacked columns.
The first one asks about “expanding hours” - 13 respondents indicated it was VERY important, 4 said “somewhat important” and 1 said “not a priority”
The second column asks about “expanding where customers can take ParaTranspo” - 13 respondents indicated it was VERY important, 7 said “somewhat important” and 1 said “not a priority”
The third column asks about “buying new buses” - 11 respondents indicated it was VERY important, 7 said “somewhat important” and no-one said “not a priority”
The fourth column asks about “hiring more staff” - 11 respondents indicated it was VERY important, 5 said “somewhat important” and no-one said “not a priority”
The fifth column asks about “improving technology” - 10 respondents indicated it was VERY important, 6 said “somewhat important” and no-one said “not a priority”
The sixth column asks about “reducing fares” - 7 respondents indicated it was VERY important, 8 said “somewhat important” and 2 said “not a priority”
The last column asks about “more comfortable buses” - 3 respondents indicated it was VERY important, 8 said “somewhat important” and 7 said “not a priority”

 

This survey gives a quick overview of what customers of Para Transpo are worried about (COVID and cleanliness of the buses) and what priorities they would like to see in the future.

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John Redins has something to say ...

Day four of #ParaAwarenessWeek2021. Here is an interview with John Redins, a board member of the Ottawa Transit Riders since the founding meeting. He advocates on a number of issues, besides accessible transit and he wants to remind drivers to give space to ParaTranspo buses. Don’t park in accessible spots – even for a short while.

What have you learned so far this week? Did you know that Para customers fought for ten years to get online booking? But they are still fighting for same-day booking and longer hours of service.

Take a listen to John: https://youtu.be/ICs_dj29-FU

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