Ottawa

Calls for OC Transpo fare freeze mount amid LRT problems

Several members of Ottawa's transit commission and city council are calling for a transit fare freeze in the wake of a marathon question and answer session on the new light rail system's problems. 

Coun. Shawn Menard will ask for vote on putting January increase on ice

Moving through the fare gates at Ottawa's St-Laurent light rail station on Sept. 14, 2019. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

Several members of Ottawa's transit commission and city council are calling for a transit fare freeze in the wake of a marathon question and answer session on the new light rail system's problems. 

OC Transpo fares are slated to go up another 2.5 per cent in January, just three months after a fare increase Oct. 1 during the LRT's official launch.

The new budget does include exceptions, with no increase slated for the EquiPass, community pass and access pass rates.

Earlier in Tuesday's transit commission meeting, Capital Coun. Shawn Menard said he plans on crafting a motion to put off the January increase because the service hasn't been good enough.

Innes Coun. Laura Dudas was also asking about the fare increase.

Neither are on the commission, but some of its members support that idea.

"I'm going to be spending my weekend looking in the (transit) budget to offset the $4.9 million that they say that a fare increase will bring in," said Sarah Wright-Gilbert, who sits on the commission as a representative of the public.

Anthony Carricato, another public member, suggested postponing the $6 million project to bring in electric buses or selling more ads to make up that shortfall.

Advocacy groups have also been calling for a freeze. 

Ottawa Transit Riders has adopted the slogan "The service is poor, we shouldn't pay more."

It's asking people to write their city councillor and press them to vote against the budget if it includes a fare increase.

The next transit commission meeting is Nov. 20, with citywide budget approval set for Dec. 11.

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