FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OTTAWA - Horizon Ottawa and Ottawa Transit Riders are calling on the city’s new Transit Commission to hold an emergency meeting as soon as possible in the face of issues that have seen major disruptions in transit services. The issues began last Wednesday when overhead catenary wires were damaged due to freezing rain. Despite this however, new Transit Commission Chair and re-elected councillor, Glen Gower, told media today that the first meeting would only be held next month.
There were similar efforts from transit advocates and some councillors to push for an emergency meeting when the initial derailments occurred in the Summer and Fall of 2021. Those calls were unfortunately ignored. Both Ottawa Transit Riders and Horizon Ottawa are hoping that this will not be the case this time.
“Our new City Council has promised us a climate of transparency and accountability. They can demonstrate their commitment to these principles by calling a Transit Commission meeting," said Laura Shantz, a Board Member of Ottawa Transit Riders. "An emergency meeting would allow the public to learn what went wrong, how we can fix it, and what the plan is to improve going forward.”
Community groups are also raising concern around the city’s decision to hire the firm STV to work on a return to service plan for the LRT. The firm raised eyebrows in 2021 when it was hired to investigate the derailments. It was quickly brought to light that it played a role in coming up with criteria around procurement for LRT Stage 1 and as a result of public scrutiny, the city decided not to hire them.
It was also revealed last year that shortly after former OC Transpo head, John Manconi, left the City of Ottawa, he joined STV as one of their Senior VPs. Transit advocates and community groups are now questioning if a firm with ties to someone who played such a large role in covering up major issues around the LRT, should be helping come up with a return to service plan.
Both groups said they would prefer to see the city hire transit experts who are not affiliated with the previous regime.
“With a decision like this it signals to residents that OC Transpo and city leadership are treating the inquiry almost as if it never even happened.” Said Sam Hersh, Board member of Horizon Ottawa. “If this is our new city leadership’s first test of governance, then they are clearly failing.”
For Media Inquiries:
Ottawa Transit Riders
Kari Glynes Elliott