PRESS RELEASE: Community groups call on councillors to support proposals to compensate transit riders ahead of Wednesday council meeting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OTTAWA - Community groups Free Transit Ottawa (FTO) and Horizon Ottawa are calling on the City Council to provide  free transit as compensation for riders who have suffered due to multiple serious issues surrounding the LRT in the last two months.

In late July, it was reported that College Ward Councillor Laine Johnson intended to propose a motion to council to consider a period of free transit for users after the Council Summer Break on August 23rd. Similarly, OC Transpo GM, Renee Amilcar also said that compensation could be a possibility.

Ottawa Transit Riders, FTO and Horizon Ottawa have been demanding financial relief for riders for the past month, having launched an email campaign where residents could send an email to their councillors around the subject. To date, close to 600 residents have sent e-mails to Transit Commission Chair, Glen Gower, Amilcar and Mayor Mark Sutcliffe.

“The LRT has been partially online now for just over a week and half and has, predictably, already faced some technical challenges that have meant longer commute times for riders” said Sam Hersh, Horizon Ottawa Board member. “The least the City could do at this point, short of fixing these issues, is to compensate riders fairly for the difficulties they’ve had to endure.”

At current ridership levels, free transit would cost about $3 million a month since OC Transpo didn't need to pay the Rideau Transit Group while the train was down. Both groups note that there are a number of options at the city’s disposal to be able to afford free transit like they did in December 2021 — including raising surcharges on Uber and Lyft, re-allocating funds from road widening projects, and raising parking fees which have only increased once in the last decade.

“All these options are on the table. With them the city could not only fund free transit — be it two months for everyone, a reduction to the base fare, or making the Community and Equi Passes free for low income riders year round — but  greatly improve service too” said Nick Grover, an executive member of Free Transit Ottawa. “ In terms of immediate action, free transit offers riders a reason not to abandon the system entirely while removing a cost barrier for the poorest residents who disproportionately use transit.”

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For media inquiries:

Horizon Ottawa
Sam Hersh
613-663-7018
[email protected]

Free Transit Ottawa
Nick Grover
[email protected]

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