Transit and COVID-19

What has the COVID-19 crisis taught us about essential services and transit?

It has encouraged us to reconsider who keeps our communities working. They are waitresses/waiters, chefs, retail workers, grocery clerks, shelf-stockers, janitors, cleaners, etc. They are the low-wage, transit-dependent residents that transit decision-makers often ignore.

How much do you value the people who clean public buildings now? How much do you value the people keeping our grocery stores clean and well-stocked?

I won’t get into policy implications for minimum wages, mandatory sick days, and affordable housing, but I think transit planners are going to have to consider the needs of low wage essential workers when this crisis is over.

What do such essential workers need from transit?

They need buses that start running early enough in the morning (even on weekends) to get people to work. They need transit that is affordable, reliable, frequent, and not over-crowded. They need buses that cover the city – such workers are not just commuting from suburbs to city 9 to 5.

The Ottawa Transit Riders continues to fight for affordable, accessible, efficient transit. Join us if you want to help.



Que nous a appris la crise COVID-19 sur les services essentiels et le transit ?

Elle nous a encouragés à reconsidérer la question de savoir qui fait fonctionner nos communautés. Il s'agit des serveuses/serveurs, des chefs cuisiniers, des travailleurs de la vente au détail, des commis d'épicerie, des étalagistes, des concierges, des nettoyeurs, etc. Ce sont les résidents à bas salaires, dépendant du transport en commun, que les décideurs ignorent souvent.

Quelle valeur accordez-vous aux personnes qui nettoient les bâtiments publics aujourd'hui ? Quelle valeur accordez-vous aux personnes qui maintiennent nos épiceries propres et bien approvisionnées ?

Je ne veux pas débattre des implications politiques en matière de salaire minimum, de congés de maladie obligatoires et de logements abordables, mais je pense que les planificateurs des transports en commun vont devoir prendre en compte les besoins des travailleurs essentiels à bas salaire lorsque cette crise sera terminée.

Quels sont les besoins de ces travailleurs essentiels en matière de transport en commun ?

Ils ont besoin d'autobus qui commencent à circuler assez tôt le matin (même la fin de semaine) pour que les usagers puissent se mettre au travail. Ils ont besoin de transports en commun abordables, fiables, fréquents et non surchargés. Ils ont besoin d'itinéraires qui couvrent la ville - ces travailleurs ne se contentent pas de faire la navette entre la banlieue et la ville de 9h à 17h.

Le groupe des usagers du transport en commun d'Ottawa continuent à se battre pour un transport en commun abordable, accessible et efficace. Rejoignez-nous si vous voulez nous aider.


Traduit avec (version gratuite)



Add your reaction Share

AGM postponed

As you might expect, the Ottawa Transit Riders will be postponing our annual general meeting (AGM) that was scheduled for April. The current board of directors will stay on a little longer and we will look into discussing, debating, and voting on certain governance issues such as our code of conduct and updated guidelines using remote technology.

We hope that all members, followers, and supporters stay safe in this stressful time and we will see you soon.


Comme vous pouvez vous y attendre, le groupe des usagers du transport en commun d'Ottawa vont reporter notre assemblée générale annuelle (AGA) qui était prévue pour avril. Le conseil d'administration actuel restera en place un peu plus longtemps et nous envisagerons de discuter, débattre et voter sur certaines questions de gouvernance telles que notre code de conduite et les directives mises à jour à l'aide de la technologie à distance.

Nous espérons que tous les membres, les partisans et les sympathisants restent en sécurité en cette période stressante et nous vous verrons bientôt.

Traduit avec (version gratuite)

Add your reaction Share

Results of Ottawa Transit Challenge 2020

From February 17 to 23, 2020 city of Ottawa councillors were invited to travel by bus and train for one week to experience the ups and downs of relying on public transit.

What did we learn?

Well first, most city councillors were good sports and did their best to meet the challenge. They posted tweets on Twitter about taking kids to family day activities and took pictures of the beautiful new stations. They posted long thoughtful observations on Facebook about the challenges of getting around – the difficulties of getting to main stations if their local routes were unreliable and the frustration of having to plan well in advance.

More than 150 members of the public joined the challenge. We also received messages from people in other cities riding unfamiliar systems.

For more of what was learned, please read the report on #TransitChallenge2020 (en anglais seulement à ce moment)

And here are the results of the end-of-challenge survey: survey results 2020 challenge 


Did you take the challenge?



Du 17 au 23 février 2020, les conseillers municipaux de la ville d'Ottawa ont été invités à voyager en bus et en train pendant une semaine pour vivre les hauts et les bas du recours aux transports en commun.

Qu'avons-nous appris ?

Tout d'abord, la plupart des conseillers municipaux étaient de bons sportifs et ont fait de leur mieux pour relever le défi. Ils ont posté des tweets sur Twitter pour aller avec leurs enfants aux activités de la journée familiale et ont pris des photos des nouvelles stations. Ils ont publié sur Facebook de longues observations réfléchies sur les difficultés de déplacement - les difficultés pour se rendre aux gares principales si leurs autobus locaux n'étaient pas fiables et la frustration de devoir planifier longtemps à l'avance.

Plus de 150 membres du public ont relevé le défi. Nous avons également reçu des messages de personnes d'autres villes utilisant des systèmes peu familiers.

Pour en savoir plus, veuillez lire le rapport sur #TransitChallenge2020 (en anglais seulement à ce moment)

Et voici les résultats de l'enquête de fin de parcours : survey results 2020 challenge 


Avez-vous relevé le défi ?

Add your reaction Share

Upcoming meetings and events

March 10th – Press conference on Transit Challenge – City Hall, councillors’ lounge noon to 1PM / Conférence de presse sur le défi du transport en commun - Hôtel de ville, salon des conseillers de midi à 13h.

March 11th – Ottawa Transit Riders board meeting – open to members (email [email protected] for details) / Réunion du conseil d'administration du groupe des usagers du transport  - ouverte aux membres (envoyer un courriel pour plus de détails).

March 18th – Transit Commission meeting at City Hall (usually starts at 9:30) / Réunion de la commission de transport en commun à l'hôtel de ville (commence généralement à 9h30).

April 27th – Annual General Meeting of the Ottawa Transit Riders - details will be posted soon / Assemblée générale annuelle du groupe des usagers du transport en commun d'Ottawa - les détails seront bientôt publiés.

Add your reaction Share

Orléans deserves a reliable and functional LRT

Guest post written by Lyse-Pascale Inamuco

My name is Lyse-Pascale Inamuco. I live in Orléans and am excited but anxious at the same time about the arrival of the LRT Phase 2.

Why? We don’t want a replica of phase 1.

It’s true that everyone is looking forward to having the LRT here because it will help a lot of residents get to and from work faster, and will encourage more people to come visit Orléans as it will no longer be a long distance trip. It’s good for our local businesses. However, the people I have talked to since October 2019 keep bringing up a but to this beautiful story.

Well... they dread the delays and technical issues that will cause a lot of discomfort. Having to commute on an overcrowded train during rush hours feeling like salmon in a closed plastic bag is another concern, especially for claustrophobics.

Since things seems to be getting worse with LRT phase 1, we anticipate it will be the same with phase 2 if we keep the same contractor. And guess what? We will look for other alternatives: the only option for Orléans residents is driving, which is equal to traffic traffic traffic. Biking isn’t really an option so...

We can then say that the goal of having the LRT as our main means of transportation would have failed.

Also, keep in mind that during the LRT phase 2 construction, one lane will have to be blocked  and we haven’t been informed of any solution put in place to help us avoid or navigate traffic during rush hour. What’s the plan? Getting on the road two hours earlier than usual?

There is definitely a need for more consultation on phase 2 so we can prevent the mistakes of phase 1. We should incorporate lessons learned from phase 1.

Why can’t the City of Ottawa start looking into what it would cost us to pay for the numerous repairs in the long run versus the cost of getting out of the contract? Which one would cost taxpayers more money? I wonder if it’s the first one or the latter. Big question mark. 


Add your reaction Share

Is Fare Freeze a good thing?

Should transit users be happy about the announcement of the Fare Freeze?


OC Transpo fare freeze extended again


Well no, actually.

Even though the headline on this article seems to suggest that riders have somehow earned a reprieve from the expected fare hike that was due in April 2020, that’s not entirely accurate. What is being reported is that the decision to raise fares is being transferred to City manager Steve Kanellakos and transit general manager John Manconi who “will determine whether standards are being met.”

This news fills me with dread.

The Transit Commission is abdicating its responsibility for fares. It is passing the buck to unelected officials who cannot be held responsible by the public.


Accountability requires the following:

  1. Standards. The public needs to know what service standards will need to be met before Kanellakos and Manconi raise fares. Are the benchmarks anything that transit riders care about? Are they measurable?
  2. Who is responsible? In this case, the Transit Commission should be responsible for making such decisions, not unelected city officials.
  3. Consequences. The Transit Commission is abdicating its responsibility because they know that raising fares will be unpopular and they want to wash their hands of the issue. The public can vote OUT politicians who continue to advocate for higher fares despite poor service. The public cannot do anything to unelected officials.


Our own John Redins is quoted in this article. He says (of the politicians) "They want to wipe their hands clean.”

"Nobody wants to be accountable for anything. It's frustrating for the ridership. It's frustrating for the employees that are working there."

The four groups that organized Transit Challenge 2020 are calling for a review of transit fares, keeping in mind the needs of low income riders and the imperative to combat climate change by encouraging people to take transit rather than personal vehicles.



Les usagers des transports en commun doivent-ils se réjouir de l'annonce du gel des tarifs ?

OC Transpo fare freeze extended again


Eh bien non, en fait.

Même si le titre de cet article semble suggérer que les usagers ont en quelque sorte gagné un sursis pour la hausse des tarifs prévue pour avril 2020, ce n'est pas tout à fait exact. Ce qui est rapporté, c'est que la décision d'augmenter les tarifs est transférée au directeur municipal Steve Kanellakos et au directeur général des transports en commun John Manconi qui "détermineront si les normes sont respectées".

Cette nouvelle m'inquiète.

La Commission du transport en commun abdique sa responsabilité en matière de tarifs. Elle rejette la responsabilité sur des fonctionnaires non élus qui ne peuvent être tenus pour responsables par le public.

L'obligation de rendre des comptes exige ce qui suit :

  1. Des normes. Le public doit savoir quelles normes de service devront être respectées avant que Kanellakos et Manconi n'augmentent les tarifs. Les usagers des transports en commun se soucient-ils de ces normes ? Sont-ils mesurables ?
  2. Qui est responsable ? Dans ce cas, c'est la commission du transport en commun qui devrait être chargée de prendre ces décisions, et non les fonctionnaires non élus de la ville.
  3. Conséquences. La commission du transport en commun abdique sa responsabilité parce que les conseillers savent que l'augmentation des tarifs sera impopulaire et qu'ils veulent se laver les mains de cette question. Le public peut voter CONTRE les politiciens qui continuent à plaider pour des tarifs plus élevés malgré un service médiocre. Le public ne peut rien faire contre les fonctionnaires non élus.

Notre propre John Redins est cité dans cet article. Il dit (des politiciens) "They want to wipe their hands clean.”

"Nobody wants to be accountable for anything. It's frustrating for the ridership. It's frustrating for the employees that are working there."

Les quatre groupes qui ont organisé le « défiTranspo2020 » demandent une révision des tarifs de transport en commun, en gardant à l'esprit les besoins des usagers à faibles revenus et l'impératif de lutter contre le changement climatique en encourageant les gens à prendre le transport en commun plutôt que leur véhicule personnel.


Add your reaction Share

Talking radical radio

Board member Kari Glynes Elliott was invited to talk about transit advocacy in Ottawa. Feel free to click on the link to read the article or listen to the conversation.

Public transit advocacy in Ottawa


1 reaction Share

Press conference Thursday, February 27th - postponed

The press conference to discuss the results of Transit Challenge 2020 scheduled for Thursday, February 27th has been POSTPONED.


Details on an alternative date will be posted later.


Add your reaction Share

Transit Commission - February edition!

The next Transit Commission meeting is coming up on February 19, conveniently in the middle of #TransitChallenge2020! If you can come, please do. A few of our board members will be there...and we’ll have a few buttons to share, too!

  • Wednesday, February 19, 2020; 9:30am (end time is variable).
  • City Hall’s Champlain Room, 110 Laurier Avenue West).
  • Agenda.
  • Livestreaming broadcast  (audio only).

To be put on the speakers’ list, contact Christopher Zwierzchowski and indicate that you wish to speak (include the agenda item you wish to address). You can also sign up right at the meeting, when you arrive.

    • [email protected] or 613-580-2424 x21359
    • You’ll be called up to speak during your chosen agenda item and you’ll have five minutes.
    • You do not have to bring a presentation or any material to share but, if you do, bring it on a memory stick/key and hand it over to the organizers, who will put it up on the council room monitors for you.

There are a number of interesting items on the agenda this month but we’re highlighting a few priorities (including some speaking points/demands) below...feel free to speak to these points or anything else that’s important to you! Want to make sure something is on our radar? Email us: [email protected].


    • We are still asking for #ParaParity; Para customers are forgotten the second there’s an issue on the LRT and this is unacceptable.
    • We want the ParaParity group to be included in testing the online booking web form/suite.
    • We want a firm deadline for the start and finish of testing the interim online booking web form; originally scheduled to launch by the end of 2019 and now very much delayed.
    • We want a firm deadline and date for the roll-out of the interim web form.
    • We want more transparency of the whole ParaTranspo online booking process, including delays and timelines. Please communicate!
    • We want increased capacity on ParaTranspo (i.e. more buses/drivers; not just taxis).
    • We want ParaTranspo service to be available at the same times as conventional service; as such, we want it extended to 2am every day, 12am on Sunday, and 4am on New Year’s Day. 
    • We want accountability for trips, with bookings given a reference number. Too many are cancelled or rescheduled without the knowledge of the passenger; better tracking is needed.


    • Thank the councillors who are taking part in #TransitChallenge2020 and express disappointment that so few OC Transpo decision-makers even responded.
    • We want Transit Commission to retain power over approving any further fare freezes; this should be a democratic process.
    • We want clarity on how service improvements will be measured ahead of any future fare increases.
    • We want the City to share the air quality test results done in the LRT tunnels.
    • We want the City and OC Transpo to commit to working with local advocacy groups (e.g. Ottawa Transit Riders, Healthy Transportation Coalition, Para Parity, and Ecology Ottawa) to develop a plan to grow transit ridership, including:
      • Community consultations on any upcoming changes to transit;
      • Making the EquiPass more affordable, accessible, and easily attainable; and 
      • Early consultation on phase 2 of the LRT across ALL wards (only some are currently being briefed).


    • We again want the City and OC Transpo to commit to working with local advocacy groups (e.g. Ottawa Transit Riders, Healthy Transportation Coalition, Para Parity, and Ecology Ottawa) on improving communications related to the day-to-day operation of bus routes and the LRT system (e.g. delays, cancellations, disruptions, etc).
    • We want OC Transpo to commit to improving the number of cancellations reported; these should be as close to 100% as possible (instead they are as low as 10%).

Please share all of this information with your friends, family, co-workers, and fellow bus/train passengers and encourage them to attend and speak, we’ve said before, our power is in numbers, here and at City Hall. We hope to see you there on Wednesday...and if you haven’t signed up as a member yet, please consider doing it here! 

(French copy to come!)


Add your reaction Share

Who has accepted the Challenge?

Ottawa Transit Challenge 2020  / Le Défi du transport en commun d'Ottawa 2020

It’s that time of year again … time to take the Ottawa Transit Challenge.

The second annual Ottawa Transit Challenge is being organized by Ottawa Transit Riders, Ecology Ottawa, Free Transit Ottawa, and Healthy Transportation Coalition.

From Monday, February 17 to 23, 2020, councillors and key OC Transpo officials will be encouraged to use public transit for all their transportation needs.

All city councillors have been invited to participate. Members of the Transit Commission are shown in BOLD. 

Tous les conseillers municipaux ont été invités à y participer. Les membres de la Commission de transport en commun sont indiqués en caractères gras. 

(Table will be updated once per day / Le tableau sera mis à jour une fois par jour): 


  Name (ward) Accepted challenge? Evidence of participation?

Jim Watson


Did not RSVP, but tweeted Yes!

Mathieu Fleury 


Yes Yes!

Matthew Luloff


Yes Yes!

Laura Dudas


On vacation (or else would have participated)


Jan Harder


Yes Yes!

Jenna Sudds

(Kanata North)


Yes Yes!

Eli El-Chantiry

(West Carleton-March)

No; declined  

Glen Gower



Yes Yes!

Theresa Kavanagh



Yes Yes!

Keith Egli




Tim Tierney

(Beacon Hill-Cyrville)


On vacation (or else would have participated)


Rawlson King





Catherine McKenney





Jeff Leiper





Riley Brockington





Shawn Menard





Jean Cloutier

(Alta Vista)

Vice-Chair of Transit Commission




Stephen Blais



No; declined

Further, did not RSVP after the invitation was extended to him as an MPP candidate. 


George Darouze



No; declined


Scott Moffatt



No; declined 



Carol Anne Meehan

(Gloucester-South Nepean)

Yes Yes!

Allan Hubley

(Kanata South) 

Chair of Transit Commission


Yes Yes!

Anthony Carricato

(citizen commissioner)

Yes Yes!

Michael Olsen

(citizen commissioner)



Leah Williams

(citizen commissioner)


Yes Yes!

Sarah Wright-Gilbert

(citizen commissioner)


Yes Yes!

Rick Chiarelli



On leave  

Pat Scrimgeour

(OC Transpo)

Yes Yes! (we received an email)


During this week, participants will be encouraged to use public transit for all their travels – taking kids to daycare, conducting their shopping, going to appointments, visiting friends – just like so many Ottawa residents who rely on public transit.

Participants are encouraged to tweet their experience using the hashtag #TransitChallenge2020 or #défiTranspo2020.

You don’t have to be invited to participate – please feel free to sign up, respond to our surveys, or just tweet out sightings of councillors on transit. 

Register above by clicking on CAMPAIGN or by clicking this link: Ottawa Transit Challenge 2020/Défi transport en commun d'Ottawa 2020 

C'est encore cette période de l'année ... le temps de relever le Défi du transport en commun d'Ottawa.

Le deuxième Défi annuel du transport en commun d'Ottawa est organisé par les usagers du transport en commun d'Ottawa, Ecology Ottawa, Free Transit Ottawa et la Coalition pour un transport sain.

Du lundi 17 au 23 février 2020, les conseillers et les principaux responsables d'OC Transpo seront encouragés à utiliser le transport en commun pour tous leurs besoins de transport.

Au cours de cette semaine, les participants seront encouragés à utiliser le transport en commun pour tous leurs déplacements - amener les enfants à la garderie, faire leurs courses, aller à des rendez-vous, rendre visite à des amis - comme le font tant de résidents d'Ottawa qui dépendent du transport en commun.

Les participants sont encouragés à gazouiller leur expérience en utilisant les hashtags #TransitChallenge2020 ou #défiTranspo2020.

Vous n'avez pas besoin d'être invité à participer - n'hésitez pas à vous inscrire, à répondre à nos sondages ou simplement à gazouiller les observations des conseillers sur le transport en commun. 

Inscrivez-vous ci-dessus en cliquant sur CAMPAGNE ou en cliquant sur ce lien : Ottawa Transit Challenge 2020/Défi transport en commun d'Ottawa 2020

1 reaction Share