17 November 2021
The Ottawa Transit Riders are submitting this letter to the Transit Commission to document our opinions on the proposals.
According to the agenda, there are three proposals to be discussed and voted upon:
- A proposal to provide free transit passes to people living in shelters;
- A proposal to freeze fares for the monthly Community Pass, the monthly Access Pass, and the monthly or single-ride EquiPass (passes for people who are low income);
- A request that the Mayor and Transit Commission Chair write to the federal government requesting operational funding to support transit in Ottawa.
The Ottawa Transit Riders are in favour of all three proposals, we have long advocated for more affordable or free fares for Ottawa residents living on low income.
The Ottawa Transit Riders are founding members of the #KeepTransitMoving campaign, a pan-Canadian alliance of transit advocates who argue that supporting transit through Federal taxes is more equitable than forcing low income transit dependent riders to spend more and more of their income on transit fares.
However, we notice that there is still no agenda item that addresses questions and concerns regarding ParaTranspo. The people who use ParaTranspo have specific demands to improve service that are not always covered by lumping ParaTranspo service under regular transit issues. In October, the Ottawa Transit Riders asked if the Transit Commission would add ParaTranspo as a standing item on the agenda so that each month customers of ParaTranspo could speak to their specific concerns and demands.
We would like to see this issue debated and voted on.
And finally, although we are happy that fares for low income residents are being frozen, the Ottawa Transit Riders would like to express our profound disappointment that the city plans to increase fares on transit despite the inconsistent and unreliable service that transit users have suffered for years.
In the midst of a climate change emergency, raising fares even as the service declines is deeply inequitable - the people who most need transit are most adversely affected by this policy. Plus, making transit so expensive discourages people from using it.
Thank you for taking the time to consider the needs of transit riders in Ottawa.
Ottawa Transit Riders