OTTAWA - Clint Crabtree, President of Ottawa ATU Local 279 and Stuart MacKay, a Board Member of Ottawa Transit Riders called a City Councilor’s proposal to move towards on-demand transit “nothing more than a massive service cut.” This morning, Ottawa City Councilor Carol Anne Meehan called for OC Transpo to move towards an on-demand transit system or what has also been called “micro-transit.” During last year’s budget discussions in December, Councilor Meehan called for a $10 million cut to transit operating funding but withdrew her motion at the last second due to public pressure from the ATU and local residents.
“Micro-transit isn’t the silver bullet that people think it is, in fact, it’s nothing more than a cut to public services and a massive giveaway to private companies.” said Crabtree. “On-demand transit when it is used to describe services like Paratransit isn’t the problem but replacing traditional routes like this is another way of trying to slash critical services.”
During the Fall of last year, the Ford government similarly attempted to get municipalities to sign on to micro-transit through the Safe Restart Agreement. The government predicated funding on Phase II of the Safe Restart Agreement on the requirement that municipalities working with the Province, where applicable, would determine the feasibility of implementing microtransit options on certain routes, cutting services and potentially opening it up to private service providers.
“We need more public transit, not less,” said Stuart MacKay of Ottawa Transit Riders. “We need all levels of government to invest in more frequent, accessible, and reliable service that makes public transit the first transportation choice for Ottawa residents.”
ATU Canada along with transit rider groups from across the country have been calling on different levels of government to advocate for long-term operational funding since the beginning of the pandemic. The federal government responded with a welcome one-time injection of $2.3 billion but transit workers and riders have said that this is not enough.
“In a time where transit agencies around the country are hurting what we need now are more services not less.” said Crabtree. “If Ottawa City Council is really interested in the future of public transit then what they should be advocating for is dedicated, permanent, long-term operational funding not cuts to services that people rely on.”