There are consultations underway right now to discuss upcoming expansion of our LRT. Please click on the link to see how you can weigh in.
The Ottawa Transit Riders see good quality public transit as a social good - something that benefits all residents whether they ride the buses or not. Here are some articles advancing the idea that good quality public transit is a social justice issue.
An article from Free Transit Toronto arguing that transit is a social justice issue and that we should be fighting for FREE transit.
Transit should be funded by taxes. It is a key tool in the battle against climate change and is essential in our transition to a greener future.
An article from Hamilton noting that the Federal government’s support for capital spending is nice, but that transit agencies really need operational funding to continue offering public service.
The article notes that 79% of Canadians support public funding of transit.
In an article about urban planning, the authors note that divergence between the US and most major European cities where the US focused on car dependence while many European cities supported public transportation systems. Canada falls in the middle.
The article lists 8 key benefits to robust public transit systems.
COVID has reduced revenue leading to cities cutting service. This leaves many people stranded and unable to get to work, see the doctor, get food or meet other basic needs.
The ParaParity campaign, a group dedicated to improving ParaTranspo services in Ottawa is launching a Para Awareness Week from April 26th to April 30th this year.
Many members of the Ottawa Transit Riders use mobility aids - some ride “regular” OC Transpo buses and some rely on ParaTranspo. It is absolutely essential that we fight for accessibility in our public transit system.
In November 2020, AMI, a non-profit media company produced a video talking to members of the #ParaParity campaign about their challenges getting around Ottawa. Several members of Ottawa Transit Riders, including Sally Thomas, a board member, were involved.
Whether you saw it in November or not, we are re-posting it here:
Please take a moment to watch: AMI on #ParaParity
People may not be riding the bus or walking around Vanier as much as usual so they may be surprised by massive detours that are coming in April.
For information on the bus detours, please visit the OC Transpo page: Montréal Road closing on April 18
Note that anyone from Vanier who wants to go East (for example to the two high schools on Ogilvie), you will have to change buses.
Les gens ne prennent peut-être pas l'autobus ou ne se promènent pas autant qu'à l'habitude à Vanier. Ils pourraient donc être surpris par les importants détours qui seront mis en place en avril.
Pour obtenir des renseignements sur les détours d'autobus, veuillez consulter la page d'OC Transpo : Fermeture du chemin de Montréal le 18 avril
Notez que toute personne de Vanier qui veut aller vers l'Est (par exemple vers les deux lycées sur Ogilvie), devra prendre deux bus.
A board member (Kari) of the Ottawa Transit Riders was interviewed about transit cuts on CBC’s All in a Day. Click on the link to listen: OC Transpo Cuts Reactions
The Transit Commission held a special meeting to discuss upcoming cuts to various routes around the city. At least 19 people signed up at short notice to speak out against the cuts. Organizations like Acorn and Horizon were instrumental in encouraging people to participate.
Some people spoke about their own personal experience of dealing with inadequate service. Others expressed frustration at the sense of going backwards in our battle against climate change. We need better service to encourage people to use public transit rather than private cars. Cuts and fare increases are the opposite of what we need.
Several people called on the city to conduct robust, meaningful consultations to determine what transit riders need.
Kudos to Miranda Gray who noted that the city is putting up barriers to consultations by releasing reports or making announcements at short notice. The city is meeting its minimum requirements, but a more honest approach would be to give community groups and activists more time to engage.
Here is a sample of media reports on the special meeting / Voici des rapports des médias sur la réunion spéciale:
“The reductions being proposed run right through the urban heart of the City, transit-dependent Ottawans will have to wait even longer for their buses throughout the pandemic,” said Stuart MacKay of Ottawa Transit Riders in a press release Wednesday. “These cuts are significant.”
Nick Grover said Transpo should be talking about how to bring back riders rather than trimming service. “It’s a public service so in that regard we have to make sure it’s serving them whether it’s five or 500 using it.”
«Je demande des consultations publiques. Je ne comprends pas comment vous pouvez faire ces changements à ces services sans avoir demandé l’avis des gens qui les utilisent», a lancé Kari Glynes Elliott, porte-parole du Groupe des usagers du transport en commun d’Ottawa.
La Commission des transports en commun a tenu une réunion spéciale pour discuter des coupes à venir dans les différentes lignes de la ville. Au moins 19 personnes se sont inscrites au pied levé pour s'exprimer contre les coupes. Des organisations comme Acorn et Horizon ont contribué à encourager les gens à participer.
Certaines personnes ont parlé de leur expérience personnelle en matière de services inadéquats. D'autres ont exprimé leur frustration face au sentiment de régression dans notre lutte contre le changement climatique. Nous avons besoin d'un meilleur service pour encourager les gens à utiliser les transports en commun plutôt que les voitures privées. Les coupes et les augmentations de tarifs sont à l'opposé de ce dont nous avons besoin.
Plusieurs personnes ont demandé à la ville de mener des consultations solides et significatives pour déterminer les besoins des usagers du transport en commun.
Bravo à Miranda Gray qui a fait remarquer que la ville fait obstacle aux consultations en publiant des rapports ou en faisant des annonces à court terme. La ville respecte ses exigences minimales, mais une approche plus honnête consisterait à donner aux groupes communautaires et aux militants plus de temps pour s'engager.
The Ottawa Transit Riders are working with advocates across Canada to advocate for secure permanent operational funding for transit systems.
Public transit is an essential service and a key component in combatting climate change. But cities, facing unexpected budget shortfalls, are already planning cuts to service.
The #KeepTransitMoving campaign has posted the following press release calling on the Federal government to step up: With Funding Set to Expire March 31st, Coalition Warns Consequences Dire if Feds Don’t Renew “Safe Restart” Transit Money
How do we fight potential cuts?
The Council of Canadians encourages people to call Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, and your MP to demand Federal support for public transit. Click on the link for details and instructions: Call your politicians to demand operational funding.
Le groupe des usagers du transport en commun d'Ottawa collaborent avec des militants de tout le Canada pour réclamer un financement opérationnel permanent et sûr des systèmes de transport en commun.
Le transport en commun est un service essentiel et un élément clé de la lutte contre le changement climatique. Mais les villes, confrontées à des coupes budgétaires inattendues, prévoient déjà des réductions de service.
La campagne #KeepTransitMoving (#Priorité TC) a publié le communiqué de presse suivant, qui demande au gouvernement fédéral d'agir : With Funding Set to Expire March 31st, Coalition Warns Consequences Dire if Feds Don’t Renew “Safe Restart” Transit Money
Comment pouvons-nous lutter contre cela ?
Le Conseil des Canadiens encourage les gens à appeler la ministre des Finances, Chrystia Freeland, et votre député pour exiger un soutien fédéral au transport public. Cliquez sur le lien pour les détails et les instructions : Appelez vos politiciens pour exiger un financement opérationnel.
The Ottawa Transit Riders has written the following open letter to the Transit Commission regarding their “special” meeting on Wednesday, March 31 to discuss upcoming cuts to service.
Open Letter to Transit Commission regarding the proposed transit changes
The City of Ottawa and OC Transpo surprised residents and community partners by announcing that they intend to cut a number of routes starting in June 2021. The Ottawa Transit Riders would like to express our frustration at this decision to cut transit, just as the pandemic restrictions will (hopefully) start to lift.
Public transit is an essential service, not a business. The people currently riding transit are transit dependent. Many are low income residents, many are essential workers, many have no other choice. Making low income transit riders pay for a budget shortfall is cruel and shortsighted.
Public transit is an essential tool to combat climate change. If these cutbacks discourage people from using transit and encourage more driving, we face increased traffic, increased competition for parking, and increased pollution. It will be more difficult to entice riders to return to using transit if the quality of service declines.
We are concerned with news that some early morning and late night routes will be cut - they are often essential for riders getting to and from work. We worry that with reduced frequency, riders will spend more time waiting for buses and may end up paying more if their transfers expire.
We have three specific demands:
- Conduct meaningful consultations between now and June with communities to determine how to provide the best possible transit service for transit dependent residents;
- Extend the transfer window to a minimum of two hours. (If you are cutting service so that everything takes longer, you should not penalize customers); and
- Commit to maintaining essential early morning and late night trips even if only a few people use those buses.
The Ottawa Transit Riders seeks to be a voice of transit riders in the city of Ottawa. We work closely with allies who advocate for environmental issues, equity concerns, poverty alleviation, and accessibility for persons with disabilities.
In future we hope to be invited to the table to discuss transit challenges as robust democratic consultation with the public tends to produce better policy results than top-down decision-making.
We hope that the Transit Commission considers our requests.
Ottawa Transit Riders
What can you do to express your opinion? You can submit your own letter to the Transit Commission and/or ask to speak at the meeting by emailing Eric Pelot at [email protected] You can register to speak up until the start of the meeting.
[Une version en français sera bientôt disponible]
On March 31st, the Transit Commission will receive a report about proposed service cuts to OC Transpo routes to take effect this June. The Ottawa Transit Riders believe that transit route and schedule changes should be based on open and transparent consultation with riders. The people who use the transit system and who will be impacted by these changes deserve to have a say in how they get around. Unfortunately, this is not the path that OC Transpo chose:
No specific public consultation was conducted during the development of this plan; service adjustments have been developed based on ridership measurements and feedback from customers.
There is no indication of what type of customer feedback was received or how it influenced the decisions made.
The first cuts announced are for peak hour commuter connexion routes. While these cuts may be less harmful than some others, they will increase the number of transfers for peak hour commuters, a measure which could make transit less appealing. There are also references to decreasing the frequency of some routes during peak hours, which will create longer connection times for those requiring transfers and will make transit a less efficient way to get around.
Most troubling are the plans to cut some unspecified late night and early morning transit trips. These trips are essential for shift workers and low income individuals, many of whom are working for low wages and have few, if any, other transit options. These riders deserve a safe and dignified way to get to and from work, education and social activities.
In addition, new variants of concern have made COVID-19 more transmissible and will necessitate more strict distancing measures to minimize the risk for OC Transpo riders and operators. Increasing the number of passengers per bus will increase the likelihood of coming into contact with an infected person, a risk that should be minimized.
Last year, John Manconi told members of Transit Commission that short-term service cuts were nearsighted and would take months to undo. As these cuts will take place just before summer, when many decision-makers are envisioning vaccination programs reaching the bulk of the population and more individuals returning to more traditional work arrangements, they seem ill-timed.
On a more positive note, bus service will increase on a handful of routes to provide better access to shopping and healthcare facilities. These are changes that are welcome and which will help workers by reducing the need to transfer between buses
We believe that service cuts move us in the wrong direction and should be a measure of last resort.
We believe that any changes to routes should be led by community consultation so that service can best meet the needs of local transit riders.
We understand that the city of Ottawa is facing a financial crunch, but we disagree that the poorest and most transit dependent people in our communities should pay the price.
We believe that other levels of government need to step up to help make up transit shortfalls. We support the Keep Transit Moving campaign which is advocating for stable, long-term federal funding for public transit operational expenses.
What can you do?
Register to speak at the Transit Commission meeting on Wednesday March 31st by emailing Eric Pelot at [email protected]. You can register to speak up until the start of the meeting.
If you are nervous about speaking, you can also submit a letter.
Become a member of the Ottawa Transit Riders to hear about upcoming campaigns.
There’s a saying that we only value what we can count.
Social science researchers have long struggled to figure out how to measure and count intangible things that affect the quality of our lives. Like how much time is spent in traffic? Or how much do we value shopping at a local store where we know the owner vs. shopping at a big box store?
Transit advocates want to count how and why good quality transit benefits our lives.
Here is a very interesting article about measuring how much access a person has to services (schools, shops, doctor’s offices, etc.) within a 45 minute period.
If you are walking, that circle is quite small. If you are cycling, it gets bigger, especially if you have access to good bike paths. Transit advocates argue that good quality transit should provide access to more places in a short period of time.
How do we make that happen?