Transit commissioner calls for extended fare freeze, refund amid LRT mess
Sarah Wright-Gilbert wants freeze approved last fall extended past March
An Ottawa transit commissioner is calling for an extended fare freeze and even a limited refund as problems with the city's floundering LRT system continue to pile up.
Multiple trains lost power over the weekend, causing extensive delays for passengers. As a result, OC Transpo put just nine trains into service Monday morning, and pulled dozens of buses off their regular routes to bolster downtown service.
- OC Transpo pulls buses to fill in for missing trains
- 'Power loss' on 2 LRT trains leads to delays for riders Saturday
"I'm frustrated and I'm angry and enough is enough. This service has gone from bad to abysmal," citizen transit commissioner Sarah Wright-Gilbert said Monday.
On Sunday, Wright-Gilbert, who has been an outspoken critic of the city's response to the ongoing LRT problems, tweeted: "To say that I am disappointed in our public transit system, and the $5M/month maintenance contractor, [Rideau Transit Maintenance], is an understatement.... Promises continue to be broken. It's time for an extension on the fare freeze."
To say that I am disappointed in our public transit system, and the $5M/month maintenance contractor, RTM, is an understatement. As a transit rider and a Transit Commissioner, I am frustrated and angry. Promises continue to be broken. It's time for an extension on the fare freeze—@sarahmeaghang
In November, the transit commission approved a fare freeze until the end of March, resulting in an estimated revenue loss of $1 million. Transit fares had already risen the month before, and were set to rise again by an average of 2.5 per cent on Jan. 1.
But after the LRT failed to run as reliably as promised, Mayor Jim Watson proposed a three-month freeze.
At the time, commissioners left the door open to an extension if service didn't improve.
Wright-Gilbert wants the fare freeze extended until September. She said she's afraid customers faced with a choice between a $120 per month parking pass and unreliable LRT service will choose the former, and said she's already seeing some people give up on public transit as the Confederation Line's problems persist.
"We need not only a fare freeze, but OC Transpo should consider refunding at least a month of service in order to entice riders to continue to use this service and to come back," she said.
Transit users chimed in on social media.
Since the City is withholding money from RTG until they perform better, I propose that the City should be subject to the same policy. Public transit in Ottawa should be free until the system is reliable for users. There needs to be some incentive to get the system working quickly—@FabricOfOrleans
We should be given free transit for a while in lieu of the anxiety that is caused each day to the passengers—@PerfectExchange
<a href="https://twitter.com/JimWatsonOttawa?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JimWatsonOttawa</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/StephenBlais?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@StephenBlais</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/AllanHubley_23?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AllanHubley_23</a> I think now is the time to realize that we’re not in a completely different situation (as some of you had mentioned we may be before the end of the freeze extension). Indefinite freeze until the service hits basic standards.—@Franguil
We should all get free passes for at least one, if not two passes (current pass holders, not everyone) because we have continually paid for services we are not getting. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WatsonOut?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WatsonOut</a>—@Hockeygirl910
It’s become a complete joke. I use the 12 and 6 so it’s been okay still getting around but I have appointment near Lincoln fields tomorrow at 8:30 I have no idea how I’m going to get to it. Before it was just the 85. The city is now almost cut off essentially—@Nightshiftoowl
With files from Radio-Canada's Geneviève Normand