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]