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Transit Fare Freeze

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Today, the Mayor released a memo that was sent to the city manager, in which he is asking to place a transit fare freeze from January to March 2020. As you are probably aware, the fares were scheduled to go up in January.

This fare freeze would be covered using funds withheld from maintenance payments to RTG. It also states the interest to have a plan to extend the freeze past March 2020 should the service not improve to the City's satisfaction.

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Subject: Transit Fare Freeze / Gel des tarifs du transport en commun

Mr. Kanellakos,

As you know, our transit users have been experiencing far too many challenging and uncertain commutes over the last month, given the ongoing issues and service interruptions on LRT.

Following the Transit Commission meeting on Wednesday, the need for a temporary fare freeze has become obvious, in order to offer short-term relief for our OC Transpo customers.

To this effect, we will be recommending to Transit Commission and Council a fare freeze from January to March, which is to be covered by the funds withheld from maintenance payments to RTG. We would ask that you take the necessary steps to secure the required funds.

Also, please be prepared to bring forward a funding plan to extend the freeze beyond March 2020, should service to our transit passengers not improve to the City’s satisfaction.

We want to thank the several Councillors and Transit Commissioners who approached us with a sensible proposal for a temporary freeze while we deal with these issues, and for proposing a funding source that would not involve cutting other services. We are grateful for their input and suggestions.

Our hope for our customers certainly remains that issues will have been resolved over the coming months, and that service will have significantly improved and stabilized.

Sincerely,

Jim Watson                                       Councillor Allan Hubley

Mayor                                                 Chair

City of Ottawa                                   Transit Commission

 

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I am actually curious what is considered "to the city satisfaction" in this. Of course we want it to improve, but what is to the city "satisfactory"?

I think we can all agree there is some issue with the LRT, and it would be expected with any new system, but I think the bulk of the pain comes from the bus routes not being to the level that they should in terms of frequency and reliability. We know the city already withheld most of September and all of October maintenance fee, and we might see the same for November.

The 2020 budget relies on ridership increasing by 2.6% this year, which I am doubtful of given the current service levels. The city will need to be ambitious in its efforts to achieve those. Worth remembering that we have one of the highest per-fare cost in Canada and arguably one of the least impressive service level for buses.

On the bright side, it shows that the city does agree that service was not to the level expected, and that more should be done. However, I don't think ALL the blame should be pointed to the LRT alone.

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