More media … Kari on CFRA
Bill Carroll from CFRA spoke to Kari for her opinion on the news that OC Transpo has admitted to cancelling more than 6,000 buses in a 29-day period.
Supporting the Ottawa Transit Riders
It takes money to set up an advocacy group. Start-up costs include rental fees for venues, printing, websites, etc.
Once we’re up and running, we’ll fundraise, but for now we’re relying on donations from people who care about making Ottawa’s transit system better. If you’re able, please consider clicking on the ‘support Ottawa Transit Riders’ button above or you can write a cheque to the Ottawa Transit Riders. Email us for details: email@example.com
It’s awkward to ask, but advocacy costs money.
Declaration of a Climate Emergency
On April 16th, members of the Environment Commission approved a motion put forth by councillor Shawn Menard to declare a Climate Emergency.
The day started with a rally at City Hall organized by Ecology Ottawa. Several members of the planning committee of the Ottawa Transit Riders attended. There were rousing speeches and beautiful signs, then people filed into City Hall to watch the proceedings. Champlain room filled up quickly and spectators were diverted to watch in overflow rooms
Unfortunately, the motion regarding the declaration of a climate change emergency was last on a very full agenda so delegates were not able to speak to the motion until about 3PM – by that time, most supporters had gone home.
Kari and Sam spoke briefly – our presentation can be viewed here.
Several councillors, most notably Catherine McKinney and Riley Brockington, spoke movingly about listening to the passion of young people and wanting to build a better community.
Two councillors voted against the motion – one saying that he felt climate change was not an emergency since the ‘sky was not falling’.
The motion will go before City Council on April 24th.
We’re recruiting … are you interested?
Kari: So we’re looking for people to sit on our Board of Directors.
Sam: Yup – we have elections on April 27th.
Kari: And one seat is reserved for someone who uses ParaTranspo.
Sam: Of course! Accessibility is a BIG issue and we need to hear from people who have direct experience.
Kari: How’s the recruitment going?
Sam: Well, we’ve met some smart, capable people but everyone is worried about the commitment. You wouldn’t believe how many people have said they want to be involved, but maybe not on the board.
Kari: But we’re both standing for election, right?
Sam: Of course
Kari: So we set the agenda. If we’re on the board, we’re going to watch our workload, respect everyone’s time and avoid burnout. One meeting a month, lots of delegation …
Sam: We’re going to be busy this year, but we’re ALL volunteers and it’s important that we create a good environment. It’s not like we have a boss breathing down our necks saying that things have to be done by a deadline.
Kari: I’ve worked at some terrible places, but I’ve also worked at some wonderful places with great bosses – I know what works to make a group function well. Let’s create a board that is warm and respectful and effective.
Sam: So … people shouldn’t be scared off by the commitment?
Kari: Nope. We’re going to create a Board that respects people’s time and effort.
If you are interested in running for the Board of Directors of Ottawa Transit Riders, send us an email for details. OR show up to the founding meeting and grab a nomination form.
To no-one’s surprise, data has just been released that indicates that 1) OC Transpo cancels a lot of buses, and 2) OC Transpo does not report such cancellations accurately.
Kudos to the Ottawa Citizen journalist who did some good research for the article: More than 6,000 OC Transpo bus trips cancelled in nearly one-month period
In order to approach City Hall and OC Transpo with proposals to fix this problem, we need to know why this is happening.
- Is OC Transpo short-staffed? Are they struggling to get people to drive their buses?
- When does OC Transpo know that a bus will be cancelled? If staff shortages are the problem, do they know in the morning or the week before that some days are going to be bad? If so, can they give the public a head’s up?
- Is there a problem with the buses? We’ve heard rumours that maintenance budgets have been slashed. Or are buses in poor shape, requiring more maintenance than expected?
As customer and taxpayers, we have a right to know what’s going on with our transit system. OC Transpo is supported by public money to provide a public service. When they fail to provide adequate service, there should be consequences.
Riders know that transit service in Ottawa is declining
City councillors experienced the poor service for themselves during the Transit Challenge. Ottawa councillors share experiences as transit challenge comes to an end
Even John Manconi, head of OC Transpo, admitted that reliability and accessibility are a problem. OC Transpo 'not a reliable system right now,' Manconi says
So … what’s next?
Surely the powers that be are not going to sit around nodding their heads at the tragedy of terrible service and then leave it at that, are they?
At the founding meeting (April 27th) we will be providing people with an opportunity to brainstorm solutions. Do you have suggestions? Opinions on what we should do next? Ideas for campaigns? Come and share your ideas!
Click on the ‘Upcoming activities’ button to RSVP.
How to Advocate for Local Transit in Your Community
Interested in how to generate momentum to improve transit in Ottawa?
Christof Spieler, an American transit advocate who is the author of "Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas", has organized a free webinar involving a panel of transit advocates who will discuss how to advocate for better transit in your local region.
Just click here to register.
Wed, Apr 24, 2019 1:30 PM - 2:30 PM EDT
Here’s the blurb from the website:
Advocating for better transportation in your city can feel like a losing battle. How do you get to a planning meeting? Who do you direct your concerns to? What changes can you even effect? Christof Spieler, author of "Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas", has been in your shoes. Christof, PE, LEED AP, is now the Vice President and Director of Planning at Huitt-Zollars and a Senior Lecturer at Rice University. Earlier in his life, he was doing citizen advocacy to change his local metro system in Houston.
Christof has brought together a panel of local transit advocacy leaders that are doing effective, on the ground work in their neighborhoods. They are using data and best practices to measure their outputs and they're looking to share the secrets of their successes with you.
- Fred Neal Jr., Commissioner of the Regional Transit Authority of New Orleans and Sr. Planner at Villavaso & Associates, LLC
- Laura Wiens, Director of Pittsburghers for Public Transit
- Christof Spieler, PE, LEED AP, is now the Vice President & Director of Planning at Huitt-Zollars + Senior Lecturer at Rice University
Conversation moderated by David Bragdon, Executive Director of TransitCenter.
Environment Committee meeting – Tuesday, April 16th at 9:30 (Champlain room)
Councillors will discuss whether to declare a ‘climate emergency’ and if so, what to do about it. Several members of the Planning Committee for Ottawa Transit Riders will be there along with allies such as Ecology Ottawa.
Come and lend us support.
And by the way, the Transit Commission meeting scheduled for April 17th has been cancelled.
Accessibility and inclusion at our founding meeting
The Ottawa Transit Riders is fighting for improved accessibility and mobility for everyone in Ottawa and plans to ‘walk the talk’ at our events.
At our founding meeting, there will be an option for people who are not able to attend to cast a vote by proxy as long as you indicate your intentions in advance. A person casting a vote for someone else may cast only ONE proxy vote and must have written permission from the person who is absent.
At least one seat on the Board of Directors is reserved for a person who uses ParaTranspo services. So we are asking people to spread the word – it would be great to have a number of candidates for the board who have experience with ParaTranspo.
Advance access to material
We can provide written material in advance for those who need it – email us to be put on a list.
Let us know if you need any accommodations in order to participate – both at the founding meeting and in general.
Email us for details: Ottawa Transit Riders
Transit success story - Kingston
Another city that seems to be figuring out transit is Kingston, Ontario … transit ridership increased 72% between 2011 and 2017 to a record 6.1 million passenger trips!
Considering that many city politicians in Canada despair at the challenge of providing high quality transit, Kingston’s success has generated significant attention.
A few years ago, Kingston announced a goal to surpass 6 million passenger trips by 2021. They hit that mark in 2017 — four years ahead of schedule. (In 2013, passengers took 3.4 million trips on Kingston Transit; in 2017, they took 6.2 million.)
Did the reforms cost them a lot of money?
Well no, Kingston Transit’s operating budget increased modestly, from $10.2 million in 2013 to $15.7 million for 2017.
This is an important bit of data – in our advocacy work, we’ve often been told that the City simply can’t afford to spend more money on transit. While I’m willing to fight that battle (because I think transit is worth spending money on), I’d also argue that many of Ottawa’s problems stem from poor decision-making, not necessarily lack of revenue.
Thus, a re-thinking of priorities and a review of decision-making at OC Transpo could demonstrate huge improvements.
Some more data from Kingston: The number of people getting to work by bus in Kingston increased by more than 33 per cent between 2011 and 2016.
Kingston is a model for others to consider