Transit has been in the news recently:
Ordinary citizens are expressing their frustration. Here is a quote from Reddit (apologies for not crediting the writer)
I’m tired of hearing about OC Transpo’s “deficit”. It’s a public service that benefits everyone, even if you only drive you benefit from reduced cars on the road, pollution, noise, etc. etc.
The military doesn’t turn a profit. Highways don’t turn a profit. Sidewalks don’t turn a profit. Storm sewers don’t turn a profit. We pay taxes and expect these services in return. WHY is public transit the only service that has this self-defeating point-of-service user fee associated? Imagine we had to pay $3.25 every time we used a sidewalk? Or when it rained we had to pay $3.25 to unlock our nearby catch basin? IT DOESNT MAKE SENSE.
Also, an excellent article from Nick Grover of Free Transit Ottawa: Grover: Want better public transit, Ottawa? Invest in it | Ottawa Citizen
The Transit Commission meeting held on Tuesday, November 14th was very long. There were a lot of delegations – a lot of people tried to make councillors understand that the proposed cuts will make transit worse.
It’s not over yet.
On December 6th, the councillors will debate raising the transit levy from 2.5% to 3.5%. That works out to about $8 per household.
Are you willing to pay an additional $8 per year to support transit?
Contact your city councillor. Call them, email them, talk to them at an event. Explain why good quality transit is such an important issue. They work for us and they need to vote better.
La réunion de la commission des transports qui s'est tenue le mardi 14 novembre a été très longue. Il y avait beaucoup de délégations - beaucoup de gens ont essayé de faire comprendre aux conseillers que les coupures proposées aggraveront la situation du transport en commun.
Vous vous sentez désespéré ?
Rien n'a encore été décidé.
Le 6 décembre, les conseillers débattront de l'augmentation de la taxe sur les transports en commun de 2,5 % à 3,5 %. Cela représente environ 8 dollars par ménage.
Êtes-vous prêt à payer 8 dollars de plus par an pour soutenir les transports en commun ?
Contactez votre conseiller municipal. Appelez-le, envoyez-lui un courriel, parlez-lui lors d'un événement. Expliquez-leur pourquoi un transport en commun de qualité est une question si importante. Ils travaillent pour nous et doivent mieux voter.
The next Transit Commission meeting is Tuesday, November 14, 2023 at 9:30 AM.
You can attend by going in-person to Champlain Room, 110 Laurier Avenue West, or you can watch the meeting on YouTube: Ottawa City Council - YouTube
The agenda is here: Transit Commission - November 14, 2023 (escribemeetings.com)
You can email Eric Pelot at [email protected] / (613) 580-2424, ext. 22953 to ask to speak as a delegate (indicate which agenda item) or you can submit a written letter that will be part of the official record of the meeting (letters are NOT read aloud).
By Sally Thomas
As many disability advocates have said, Para Transpo, Ottawa’s paratransit system leaves the user a lot to be desired! Advocates have often asked councillors if they would ride along with Para users to experience the challenges for themselves.
Last week, the Chair of the Transit Commission, Glen Gower, agreed to accompany me on a small errand to the grocery store for one item.
The goal was to demonstrate what it’s like to use Para Transpo for ordinary tasks. I want to show all councillors how decisions made by the City Council and the Transit Commission affect those of us who have to use it as a primary way to get around. In fact, for the majority of Para Transpo’s thousands of users, it is our only way of getting around.
Plans for this began with a challenge made on X (formerly Twitter) for any Councillor to join me and experience it for themselves. Graciously, Councillor Gower accepted.
For those of you who don’t know, Councillor Gower represents Stittsville, which is quite a distance from downtown Ottawa where I live. After a bit of negotiation, we planned to meet on October 17 at 9:30 in the morning. Para Transpo users cannot just hop on a bus and ‘go get milk’. They require 24 hour notice, so before booking a ride for us, I had to confirm that we were still on schedule to go. Para Transpo also requires notice if anyone will be accompanying you on your trip…and whether or not they require a mobility device, to ensure there is space in the vehicle. Of course, we met in Somerset Ward where I live.
To his credit, Mr. Gower also decided to take conventional transit to meet me. Not surprisingly, his commute from Stittsville to Somerset was shorter than our commute to the grocery store, seven minutes by vehicle from my place! It took him 90 minutes to get to me and it took us two hours round trip. As I told him, ‘not too bad’!
Our bus to the store was 15 minutes late. The driver had picked someone else up on the way. We then spent almost ten minutes in my parking lot, securing my wheelchair and paying his fare. My card is registered with Para Transpo, so my fare was already recorded. The card reader that advocates fought hard to have in the buses, did not work. Ultimately, he paid cash.
We can only book rides 90 minutes apart, so when we were done, we had 45 minutes to wait for the ride home. Thankfully we were able to enjoy a hot beverage and a fruitful conversation about his experience.
I encourage other Para Transpo users to connect with their councillors to share their experiences.
As a follow up to the Para Awareness Event in September, several members of the Ottawa Transit Riders talked about demands for Para Parity:
- Offer same-day booking / on-demand booking
- Provide 24-hour booking and service
- Be flexible with cancellations
- Coordinate how riders/dispatchers choose destination/pick up locations
- Ensure that Presto readers on new buses are accessible to riders
- Conduct a planning session with first responders and Para Transpo riders to discuss evacuation options
- Communicate alternatives when elevators are out-of-service
A report on the transit rally where Ottawa Transit Riders, Free Transit Ottawa, Ecology Ottawa and Horizon Ottawa organized a group of people to march through City Hall demanding better transit.
Sign a petition demanding “no more cuts to public transit”
Consultations for the budget are coming up. Click on the link to sign up for a session.
Such consultations are a way to have your voice heard and push councillors to approve a budget that serves local residents.
Consultations start on Wednesday, October 18th.
If you want more information about the budget process and how to participate, Sam Hersh from Horizon Ottawa and Inez Hillel from Vivic Research will host a brown bag lunch on Thursday, October 19 · 12 - 1 PM.
Click on the Eventbrite invitation for details.
Democracy is more than just voting every four years.
In a healthy democracy, residents have an opportunity to communicate our needs to our councillors.
The city budget should reflect our values.
Most city councillors will host “consultations” in their neighbourhoods over the next few weeks to discuss the upcoming budget. Some councillors in neighbouring wards will host joint-sessions. Please contact your own councillor to find out when their session will be held or check the list on the city of Ottawa website.
Such sessions can be an excellent way to meet your councillor, advocate for causes that matter to you, and network with like-minded neighbours.
The pandemic has shone a light on our inequalities and frailties. Where would we be without essential grocery staff, pharmacy employees, and healthcare workers? Do you feel that the city is moving in the right direction? Do you feel that the city is taking care of residents?
We’re hoping to convince councillors to support a fare freeze (why should people pay MORE for the level of service OC Transpo is offering?) and improved service. We also want OC Transpo to clarify how much money they need to provide adequate service. Then, we can debate where the money will come from. Would you be willing to pay a few dollars more in taxes per year for better transit?
Sign up and talk to councillors.
La démocratie ne se résume pas à un simple vote tous les quatre ans.
Dans une démocratie saine, les habitants ont la possibilité de communiquer leurs besoins à leurs conseillers.
Le budget de la ville doit refléter nos valeurs.
La plupart des conseillers municipaux organiseront des « consultations » dans leur quartier au cours des prochaines semaines pour discuter du prochain budget. Certains conseillers de quartiers voisins organiseront des sessions conjointes. Veuillez contacter votre conseiller pour connaître la date de sa séance ou consultez la liste sur le site Web de la ville d'Ottawa.
Ces sessions peuvent être un excellent moyen de rencontrer votre conseiller, de défendre les causes qui vous tiennent à cœur et de nouer des contacts avec des voisins partageant les mêmes idées.
La pandémie a mis en lumière nos inégalités et nos fragilités. Que serions-nous sans les employés des épiceries, des pharmacies et des services de santé ? Pensez-vous que la ville va dans la bonne direction ? Pensez-vous que la ville prend soin de ses habitants ?
Nous espérons convaincre les conseillers municipaux d'appuyer un gel des tarifs (pourquoi les gens devraient-ils payer PLUS pour le niveau de service qu'OC Transpo offre ?) Nous voulons également qu'OC Transpo précise le montant dont elle a besoin pour offrir un service adéquat. Ensuite, nous pourrons débattre de la provenance de cet argent. Seriez-vous prêt à payer quelques dollars de plus en impôts par an pour de meilleurs transports en commun ?
Inscrivez-vous et parlez aux conseillers.
You might like to know that members of Ottawa Transit Riders will be staffing a table at the Elgin Street Market (Boushey Square) on Sunday, October 1st.
Come by and say “Hi!”
Vous aimeriez peut-être savoir que des membres du groupe des usagers de transport en commun d'Ottawa tiendront une table au marché de la rue Elgin (Boushey Carré) le dimanche 1 octobre.
Venez nous rendre visite et dire « Bonjour ! »
The Ottawa Transit Riders, Free Transit Ottawa, Horizon Ottawa, and Ecology Ottawa organized a rally for better transit in Ottawa on September 26th.
There is huge frustration in this city at the disconnect between what riders want and what city officials are willing to fund.
Here is an excellent CBC interview with Matti Siemiatycki, the Director of the Infrastructure Institute at the School of Cities, University of Toronto, and Professor in the Department of Geography & Planning on the risks of a “transit death spiral”.
We’re experiencing the undeniable evidence of climate change. Good public transit is a tool to mitigate the harms of climate change. But right now, transit is in decline in Ottawa, so people are avoiding it. We will never grow ridership with more route cuts and fare increases. We can do better, we deserve better.
Last year Council cut $47M in "cost savings" from the transit budget and left a $39M hole hoping upper levels of government would pick up the slack. The post-COVID recovery has been made more difficult by decades of neglect and mismanagement.
We are asking City Council to step up and make our transit system something people actually WANT to use. That means:
Make the Community and Equi Passes free for low-income riders and ODSP recipients. End costly fare enforcement and punitive fines.
Sign a petition to demand free transit for people on OW and ODSP
FREQUENCY and RELIABILITY
We need more buses and more operators to achieve service levels that will attract new riders — and permanent dedicated lanes on major roads, including Bank, Carling, Robertson, St Laurent and Baseline, to keep routes out of traffic and on schedule.
Ensure all stops are safe and accessible. Same-day booking for Para Transpo and service past midnight.
Involve riders in route planning and service levels to give us a say over the service we rely on. Create agendas for public meetings that clearly indicate when delegates are likely to be called upon so they don’t wait all day for a chance to speak for 5 minutes.
COMMUNICATION and ACCOUNTABILITY
Commit to real time updates when buses are delayed or canceled at least 20 minutes before routes are scheduled to start, and enable all routes with GPS by Q3 of 2024 so that transit apps can provide accurate information.
Redirect the $50M road widening budget, scrap corporate subsidies, raise City parking rates, and increase the Uber/Lyft surcharge to $0.70 to support improved and expanded transit operations.
On Monday, a significant number of people who use Para Transpo came to City Hall to meet with city councillors for our first Para Awareness Event.
It was an opportunity to educate councillors, especially new ones, about the challenges and frustrations of using the service. It was an opportunity for councillors to meet face-to-face with people who use the service to hear stories. There are people who use the service in every ward in the city.
You can view the presentation here: Para Awareness 2023 presentation
Our demands are simple and reasonable – and in many cases, not expensive.
Here’s a picture of a Presto reader blocked by a step. One demand is that the new buses should have Presto readers that are accessible to people who use wheelchairs.
Shout-out to the councillors who came and talked to people.
It was disappointing that the mayor declined our invitation.
It was even more disappointing that Mme Amilcar declined to attend as she has refused to meet with transit riders at several opportunities.
Here is one accessibility advocate, Kyle Humphrey talking about his frustration at being ignored by City Hall: interview with iheartradio