Transit Advisory Working Group

Do you remember the city recruiting volunteers for its transit advisory board? We promoted it on our website hoping that some passionate transit advocates would be selected.

Well, we still don’t know who was selected, but many members of the Ottawa Transit Riders, including board members and advocates for Para Transpo received rejection letters this week. It seems that the city does not want people who speak up about transit – they are likely looking for yes-men (yes-people?).

Democracy is about more than voting every few years – it’s a system where ordinary citizens can express opinions and advocate for their causes.

It’s frustrating that city council sees people who care about the city as adversaries, rather than as allies.

Citizen representatives get boot from transit commission

Vous souvenez-vous que la ville a recruté des bénévoles pour son comité consultatif sur les transports en commun ? Nous en avons fait la promotion sur notre site Web en espérant que des défenseurs passionnés du transport en commun seraient sélectionnés.

Nous ne savons toujours pas qui a été choisi, mais de nombreux membres du groupe des usagers de transport en commun d'Ottawa, y compris des membres du conseil d'administration et des défenseurs de Para Transpo, ont reçu des lettres de refus cette semaine. Il semble que la ville ne veuille pas de personnes qui s'expriment sur le transport en commun - elle cherche plutôt des béni-oui-oui.

La démocratie, c'est plus qu'un simple vote à quelques années d'intervalle - c'est un système dans lequel les citoyens ordinaires peuvent exprimer leurs opinions et défendre leurs causes.

Il est frustrant que le conseil municipal considère les personnes qui s'intéressent à la ville comme des adversaires plutôt que comme des alliés.





1 reaction Share

Today is the Launch of Para Transpo Challenge 2024

Remember the Ottawa Transit Challenge where Ottawa Transit Riders asked city councillors to use transit for a week?

Well, we’re doing it again, but with a twist.

Today, we launched a new challenge, asking the mayor and city councillors to take a ride with Para Ambassadors on Para Transpo. The Para Transpo Challenge will take place from March 28th to May 31st (end of National AccessAbility week).

Why, you ask?

Because these are the people who make all sorts of decisions about transit and it seems important that they know a little about the service that they are talking about.

Did you know that people who use ParaTranspo have to book their rides at least 24 hours in advance? That means no spontaneous drinks with friends; no taking advantage of last-minute tickets to an event …

Did you know that if you cancel a booking, you may have to justify your decision?

Did you know that Para users can’t specify what time they want to be dropped off so they end up guessing (and wasting time)?

Did you know that OC Transpo considers Para Transpo to be “on-time” if they arrive within a 30 minute window?

We hope that city councillors take advantage of this opportunity to speak one-on-one with Para users. It’s a great way to get to know residents who get around the city by a different mode.

We hope that journalists join in the Challenge - email the Ottawa Transit Riders if you want to participate.

As for the rest of us, follow this blog to see who has taken the challenge and what they noticed.

Encourage your own councillor to participate - a more accessible city is a better city to live in and we’re hopeful that this (relatively) new city council can make some meaningful improvements.






1 reaction Share

Joel Harden talking about transit on Saturday

On Saturday, March 16th, MPP Joel Harden will hold a Community Canvass, starting at McNabb Park (180 Percy street) from 11:30 to 1:30.

After that, he will hold a Transit Townhall at McNabb at 2:30 PM.

For details on both events, go to his website at Day of Action Events - Joel Harden

The Provincial government has a role to play in supporting public transit – come and talk to Joel about what you want to see in our city.


Le samedi 16 mars, le député provincial Joel Harden fera du porte-à-porte dans la collectivité, en commençant par le parc McNabb (180, rue Percy), de 11 h 30 à 13 h 30.

Ensuite, il tiendra une assemblée publique sur le transport en commun au centre communautaire de McNabb à 14 h 30.

Pour plus d'informations sur ces deux événements, consultez son site web.

Le gouvernement provincial a un rôle à jouer dans le soutien au transport en commun - venez parler à Joel de ce que vous voulez voir dans notre ville.

1 reaction Share

Looking for Para Ambassadors

Do you use Para Transpo?

Are you frustrated with issues like scheduling?

Do you wish that city councillors understood the concerns of people who use Para Transpo?

Do you have ideas on how to improve service?

The Ottawa Transit Riders are looking for people who use Para Transpo to act as Para Ambassadors for an upcoming transit challenge from March to June.

Would you like to participate? Contact [email protected] for details.


1 reaction Share

Beyond the Carbon Tax

Free Transit Ottawa, City for All Women Initiative (CAWI), Ecology Ottawa, Fridays for Future, Horizon Ottawa and Justice for Workers invite you to a presentation on “Fighting Climate Change: Beyond the Carbon Tax”.

It will be held on Monday, March 18 at 7:30 PM

PSAC building, 233 Gilmour street, 1st floor.

1 reaction Share

Putting Wheels on the Bus - we need govt funding

Transit advocates are talking about a report called “Putting Wheels on the Bus” published by the Environmental Defence and Équiterre that calls on all levels of government to support public transit.

The pathway to doubling public transit use by 2035

Public transit is an excellent use of public tax dollars – good quality transit helps everyone (even people who don’t ride transit).

Good transit provides freedom to those who can’t drive. Good transit allows low income residents to get to school and to work and to appointments.

Accessible transit, along with well maintained sidewalks and other infrastructure, provides independence to people with mobility challenges.

Good public transit allows people to leave their cars at home, thus contributing to the battle against climate change. It reduces traffic and pollution and competition for parking.

All in all, good, reliable, affordable, accessible public transit is something worth fighting for.

Federal government must step up transit funding to cut emissions

A useful quote from the article:

Municipalities are not allowed to borrow money for their operating budgets and are restricted in what taxes they can levy. This has led to reduced service and increased fares. This in turn leads to even lower ridership, which inevitably translates to more service cuts and fare increases – a vicious downward spiral. 

The Environmental Defence and Équiterre is an environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

The study discusses how Canada can double public transit ridership by 2035, which would reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 65 million tons between 2024 and 2035; the equivalent of the annual emissions from 20 million cars.

Click to read the report, “Putting Wheels on the Bus”.

1 reaction Share

Environmental Defence and Équiterre report

We all have our own reasons for advocating for better transit – it improves equity, it helps people who are low income, it offers freedom to people who don’t drive, it reduces pollution and traffic …

The Environmental Defence and Équiterre, an environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities has just released a study on how Canada can double public transit ridership by 2035. Improving public transit can reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 65 million tons between 2024 and 2035 which is the equivalent of the annual emissions from 20 million cars.

Home - Environmental Defence

The report, “Putting Wheels on the Bus” can be found here: PUTTING WHEELS ON THE BUS - Environmental Defence

In the report, they list five specific things that Canada can do to promote public transit:

1.Fund Public Transit Operations to Get More People Riding on Transit

This means making full use of all the extra buses and trains, designing public transit networks to encourage trips beyond "the commute to work" by providing frequent, all-day bus service, and incentivize cities to build dedicated transit right-of-way infrastructure, like bus lanes.

2.Build More Houses Near Public Transit

This would mean implementing zoning policies that require a minimum level of housing density to be built near public transit and eliminate parking minimums.

3.Use Public Transit as a Tool to Advance Equity Goals

This means ensuring that the travel patterns of equity-seeking groups and marginalized people are met through tools like: increased service outside of peak periods, federal operations funding for low-income fare discounts and anti-displacement strategies to ensure those who are most likely to take transit can actually afford to live near it.

4.Implement Zero-Emission Bus Requirements

This would mean shifting one-off electrification funding projects to making zero-emissions public transit a core feature of ongoing, permanent capital funding. The federal government should introduce procurement requirements for zero-emission buses as a condition to receive funding, whilst allowing for flexibility based on city size.

5.Set Clear Goals to Shift People from Cars to Sustainable Transportation

This would mean setting targets to double public transit ridership by 2035 (compared to 2023 levels) and reduce vehicle kilometres travelled (VKT) by 35% by 2035 (compared to 2019 levels). This can be done through funding deals that require municipalities to meet minimum targets based on community size that collectively achieve national goals. That also means getting started now by accelerating the Permanent Public Transit Fund to begin in 2024 rather than 2026.

1 reaction Share

Blackburn Hamlet pilot

In February, OC Transpo launched a pilot project using ParaTranspo buses to offer a limited on-demand service from Blackburn Hamlet to Blair station.

This service will operate on weekends and select holidays (no word yet whether Family Day will count).

On-demand transit pilot rolling out in Blackburn Hamlet this weekend (

On-demand transit pilot starts this weekend | CBC News

The Ottawa Transit Riders agree with people who use Para Transpo that this pilot project highlights how little the city and OC Transpo cares about people with disabilities.

For one, people who use Para Transpo have to book their rides at least a day in advance; they have been advocating for on-demand service for decades. Offering it first to able-bodied people is rather dismissive.

Secondly, people who use Para Transpo have been complaining for years about a lack of capacity. They’ve been told that sub-standard service is because of a lack of buses and/or drivers. How can OC Transpo use Para buses for able-bodied people instead of improving services for people who use Para Transpo?

Using Para Transpo buses for on-demand pilot project a 'slap in the face' for riders with disabilities | CBC News

On-demand transit: Para Transpo riders express frustration as OC Transpo on-demand service kicks off | CTV News

OC Transpo's new on-demand transit 'frustrating' to watch for Para Transpo users


Ottawa Transit Riders supports Para Parity, a subcommittee devoted to advocating for accessible transportation in Ottawa. We meet once per month to discuss specific issues and campaign strategies. If you would like to participate, please email us at [email protected]




1 reaction Share

Watch out for fare inspections

We’ve all done it – after waiting for too long in poor weather, our transfer has expired, the bus is packed, and the fare reader at the back doesn’t work …

OC Transpo recently ran a fare inspection blitz between October and December and handed out about 287 tickets.

The cost of evading transit fare is $260, which is a shocking amount of money considering how many low income people require public transit to get around.

Members of the Ottawa Transit Riders were unimpressed with the focus on going after transit riders.

OC Transpo: Fare inspection ramps up, with $75,000 of tickets last fall | CTV News

More than $1,900 worth of fare-dodging fines issued per day on OC Transpo | CBC News

For comparison, parking a car in a bike lane will cost a driver about $125.


The next Transit Commission meeting is Thursday, February 8th. Contact Eric Pelot, Committee Coordinator [email protected], (613) 580-2424, ext. 22953 if you want to speak.

1 reaction Share

Emergency Preparedness for persons with disabilities on February 13

The city of Ottawa and OC Transpo need to work with residents with disabilities to prepare for emergencies.

As you might remember, the Ottawa Transit Riders held a Para Awareness event at city hall in September 2023. 

ONE of our demands is that First Responders meet face-to-face with people with disabilities to discuss how they would evacuate people in an emergency.

I don’t want to be alarmist, but it’s always better to be prepared for the worst than to be surprised by easily foreseeable challenges. If, for example, the city needs special equipment to evacuate people using certain types of wheelchairs, then we should make sure that the city obtains such equipment before we need it.

The city is hosting a session concerning Emergency Preparedness for persons with disabilities on February 13, from 1-3 p.m.

The City’s Office of Emergency Management, Accessibility Office and Ottawa Public Health will provide information and resources with a focus on key emergency preparedness considerations for those living with disabilities. The second portion of the session will be a facilitated discussion to learn about the needs, perspectives, concerns and questions shared by attendees, as well as explore opportunities for further collaboration with you. Topics include making a plan, preparing an emergency kit, and staying connected during emergencies. The event will take place Tuesday February 13 virtually on zoom from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. (EST).

Please register online. 

Registration will be open until 4:00 pm Monday February 12. A Zoom link will be shared with registrants the evening before the event. If you require support to complete this form, please contact the Accessibility Office at 613-580-2424 extension 21633 or at [email protected].

To promote the inclusion of all participants, the following supports are in place for the event:   

American Sign Language (ASL)   

Langue des signes québécoise (LSQ)   

Continuous real-time captioning in English and French   

Simultaneous English and French audio translation   


When registering, please let us know if you require any additional accommodations to participate.

1 reaction Share