An Ottawa transit advocate is calling on city council to freeze OC Transpo fares and raise parking rates to encourage more residents to leave their cars at home.

Trevor Haché, a board member with the Healthy Transportation Coalition, said the city is sending the wrong message by allowing transit fares to climb steadily over the last decade while on-street parking rates have remained static.

'If the city is serious about wanting to reduce congestion, wanting to encourage people to ride public transit more often, they should increase on-street parking fees.'
- Trevor Haché, Healthy Transportation Coalition

"It's sending the message that the city wants people to drive downtown and park their cars," Haché said.

Haché said his group has pored over past budgets and found the cost of a monthly adult transit pass has risen more than $32 over the last decade "while on-street parking fees have gone up zero, zip, zilch, nada."

The city's parking strategy is aimed at making short-term parking affordable to support local businesses, institutions and tourism, according to Scott Caldwell, the city manager in charge of parking.

"There have been limited instances where an increase in rates beyond the current $3/hr would be supported," Caldwell wrote in an email.

Wants changes in budget

Haché​ points out that it's currently cheaper to park downtown for two hours than it is to take the bus both ways, discouraging people who might otherwise opt for public transit.

Haché plans to make a presentation to the city's transit commission and transportation committee to ask councillors to make changes in the 2018 budget.

"If the city is serious about encouraging public transit ridership they should freeze transit fares for 10 years, just like they've done for on-street parking fees," Haché said.  

"If the city is serious about wanting to reduce congestion, wanting to encourage people to ride public transit more often, they should increase on-street parking fees."

Haché said he would like to see increased parking revenues go toward keeping transit fares low, and improving service.