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]




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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.

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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.

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Happy New Year 2024

What did Ottawa Transit Riders do in 2023?

We started the year with a forum in Kanata to discuss local transit issues. We followed up with a forum in Orleans, discussing the specific challenges of anticipating transit demands in a growing neighbourhood. Reports on both events are available on our website or by email.

In April, several members attended and spoke at the Transportation Master Plan Workshop hosted by the Federation of Citizens’ Associations of Ottawa (FCA).

Throughout the year, Ottawa Transit Riders staffed booths at several in-person events, including at Lansdowne Market, Elgin Market, and the Sandy Hill Eco-Fair.

We had members attend every Transit Commission meeting, including at a marathon meeting in November where councillors debated raising fares.

Members organized and spoke at several rallies and protests throughout the year, often in partnership with groups such as Horizon Ottawa, Free Transit Ottawa, Ecology Ottawa, Acorn, and various unions.

We held our Annual General Meeting on July 4th. 

In September, we held a Para Transpo Awareness event at City Hall, attended by a significant number of people who use accessible transportation and a respectable number of city councillors.

Transit Chair councillor Glen Gower accompanied board member Sally Thomas on a routine trip to the grocery store to experience ParaTranspo himself. We recommend that other people who use Para Transpo invite their own councillors to do the same - it’s highly informative!  

We were disappointed that Renée Amilcar, general manager of OC Transpo, did not attend our Para Transpo event, but in October, advocates for accessible transit Sally Thomas, Ryan Lythall and Laura Shantz had an in-person meeting with Mme Amilcar and several key OC Transpo executives.

We will see if mayor Sutcliffe is willing to meet with us in 2024.

We’re kicking off the New Year with a plan to re-enervate the ParaParity committee. If there is a specific issue you want to see the Ottawa Transit Riders focus on, contact us at [email protected]

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Volunteer for Transit Advisory Working Group

Are you frustrated with the state of transit in this city?

Who am I fooling? If you’re on this website, you’re likely familiar with the challenges of transit in Ottawa. Well, here’s a chance to make your voice heard. The city is recruiting volunteers to sit on a new Transit Advisory Working Group.

Details can be found here on Councillor Gower’s webpage: Recruitment for the Transit Advisory Working Group - Glen Gower | Councillor / Conseiller | Stittsville

Please consider applying – we need people who understand the value of public transit on this working group.

If you are interested in providing a voice on the future of our city’s transit services, please complete the application form before 5:00 pm on Friday, December 22, 2023. Questions can be sent to [email protected]


Êtes-vous frustré par l'état des transports en commun dans cette ville ?

Qui suis-je en train de tromper ? Si vous êtes sur ce site Web, vous êtes probablement au courant des défis que pose le transport en commun à Ottawa. Voici l'occasion de faire entendre votre voix. La Ville recrute des bénévoles pour faire partie d'un nouveau groupe de travail consultatif sur le transport en commun.

Les détails se trouvent ici, sur la page Web du conseiller Gower : Recruitment for the Transit Advisory Working Group - Glen Gower | Councillor / Conseiller | Stittsville

N'hésitez pas à poser votre candidature - nous avons besoin de personnes qui comprennent la valeur des transports en commun dans ce groupe de travail.

Si vous souhaitez vous faire entendre sur l’avenir de nos services de transport en commun, veuillez remplir le formulaire de candidature d’ici 17 h le vendredi 22 décembre 2023. Vous pouvez envoyer vos questions à l’adresse [email protected].

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Rally at City Hall Wed 6 Dec

Members of the Ottawa Transit Riders will join other community members from groups such as Horizon and Acorn at a rally at City Hall on Wednesday December 6th to battle for a budget that serves ALL residents of the city.

Community services are pleading for more funding even as mayor Sutcliffe has been dipping into emergency reserves to keep property taxes at a level that is unsustainable to maintain even basic services. 

Austerity hurts.

Councillors have proposed to raise the transit levy 1% (about $8 per household) in order to freeze transit fares. That seems pretty reasonable to most people.

Come join us if you can.



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Media stories in November

Transit has been in the news recently:

OC Transpo digs into reserves, weighs layoffs to fill $50M hole | CBC News

Riders warn OC Transpo cuts will hurt most vulnerable | CBC News

OC Transpo bus route overhaul draws public's ire (

OC Transpo faces $49.8 million shortfall in 2024 (

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


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Talk to your councillor about transit cuts

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.

Feeling hopeless?

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.

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Transit Commission Nov 14th

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 (

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).

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Councillor Gower takes Para Transpo

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.


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