Ottawa

Councillor asks why there's still no online booking for Para Transpo

Newly elected Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Rawlson King is wondering where the online reservation system for Para Transpo customers is.

Some riders have long complained about hours spent booking rides by phone

Some Para Transpo riders have been asking for the option to book their travel online for years. (Kate Porter/CBC)

Newly elected Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Rawlson King is wondering where the online reservation system for Para Transpo customers is.

King told transit commission members Wednesday he's received numerous calls from seniors, veterans and disability advocates about the long wait times for the city's phone booking system.

"It's been overwhelming," he said. "This is the only transportation resource that they have."

King wrote to city staff about whether Para Transpo will have the option of online booking before 2022 and the status of a report on the issue, which is expected to be presented at a commission meeting later this year.

He said he was dissatisfied with the answer.

Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Rawlson King questions why it's taking so long to bring Para Transpo's booking system into the digital age. (CBC)

"I felt that we asked some very pointed, specific questions … for estimated timelines but the answers were a bit vague," he said.

"The other reason why I'm concerned in terms of my inquiry was because I think we utilized the delivery of LRT as a rationale for the delay of this process."

Money and staff needed

OC Transpo's general manager John Manconi said staff that would be responsible for working on this project are already putting in overtime on the light rail transit line launch.

"It's not that we're using LRT as the excuse," he said. "If you want to go faster, as part of the 2020 budget, bring forward a funding source."

Manconi said he would need about $1 million and five full-time employees to move the project ahead.

"It sounds like you want to move on this and we need some resources to manage the technology piece, which is very complex, because we want to get it right," he told committee members.

Some Para Transpo users have told city officials they have concerns about online booking being more efficient than the phone, which would put people who have to use the phone at a disadvantage if more people immediately snap up spots online when they become available.

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