FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OTTAWA – Community organizations Ottawa Transit Riders, Horizon Ottawa and Free Transit Ottawa are calling on the City of Ottawa to implement fare-free transit during the municipal elections for Election Day on October 24th and the Advance Polling Days on October 7th and 14th. They have also published an online petition asking residents across the city to sign on in support of the demand.
The City already offers days where transit is free, including Canada Day and Remembrance Day, and made transit fare-free for an entire month last December as a result of the failing LRT system.
The group of community organizations ask that Ottawa take the lead from other Ontario municipalities who have already voted to support free transit during voting periods, such as Cambridge and Kitchener, and cities like Thunder Bay and St. Catharines who have already implemented it for this year’s election.
“This is one of the most important elections in a generation here in Ottawa and we wouldn’t want to see people miss out on that because they weren’t able to get to a polling station,” said Kari Glynes Elliot, a Board member of the Ottawa Transit Riders. “The City should be doing everything they can to encourage civic engagement; high transit costs can be a barrier and why not lower that barrier for voting periods.”
Ottawa has one of the highest transit fares in all of North America at $3.75, topping cities like Toronto and Montreal. An analysis last year by CTV Ottawa showed that, compared to other Canadian municipalities, Ottawa had the fourth highest rate for an adult monthly bus pass as well as an adult single-trip cash fare. Those with transit as their only resource shouldn’t be charged a fare to go vote, says Free Transit Ottawa.
"For many, fares are a cost barrier to using transit. Removing them means greater access to the city and its services. I would hate to see anyone end up not voting because the $3.75 fare, possibly each way, to get to the polling location was too high” said Nick Grover, a representative of Free Transit Ottawa. “The city can, at least, close the fare boxes and open the gates for three days in the interest of democratic engagement."
Fare-free transit on election day and during advance polls for those without access to a car or for those who choose not to drive, would also allow voters the flexibility they need to schedule ahead and better ensure that they would be able to more easily cast a ballot.
“People don’t know where they are going to be during voting periods, giving them access to fare-free transit will allow them more flexibility in how they can vote especially if they live in an area where polling stations may be spread further apart.” said Sam Hersh, a Board member of Horizon Ottawa.”The City of Ottawa has a duty to ensure that every resident in our city is free of any barrier to vote be it financial, regional, ability or otherwise.”
For Media Inquiries:
Ottawa Transit Riders
Kari Glynes Elliott
Free Transit Ottawa