OC Transpo users unite to demand smoother ride
City-wide advocacy initiative to tackle bus delays, cancellations
Ottawa transit riders are preparing to launch a city-wide advocacy group to better fight what they consider to be a decline in the quality of OC Transpo service.
More than 100 people attended a Saturday workshop at the University of Ottawa to help create the group, which aims to give a collective voice to riders frustrated with issues like bus delays and cancellations.
"There are common problems all around the city, and each one of us individually complains to OC Transpo [and] to our councillors," said Sam Boswell, co-founder of Ottawa Transit Riders, one of the four groups that came together for the workshop.
"There is something to be said by getting together into a large group and complaining together. There is power in numbers."
'Something must be done'
Advocacy groups have been trying to improve issues with transit for several years in various parts of the city, Boswell said, but they're now uniting in their efforts.
"The whole city has poor transit. Buses are unreliable. Buses don't show up. Fares keep going up," she said.
"But each community doesn't realize that they're actually not alone."
Boswell also said many of steps OC Transpo has taken in preparation for the opening of the Confederation light rail line have affected bus users negatively.
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"After the service changes in the fall, a bunch of us just decided, you know, this is enough. They're either making changes without consulting communities [or] they're making changes that don't necessarily benefit all the people that are using the buses. So we needed to do something."
A representative from TTC Riders, a transit advocacy organization in Toronto, attended the workshop to help guide participants on establishing their group and overcoming challenges.
Coun. Allan Hubley, the head of Ottawa's transit commission, said he welcomed the initiative.
"If you're speaking with one voice, it makes it easier," he said. "For example, if what they want to do is have a dialogue with the commission, well, it's very helpful when one person speaks for everybody. They just have to get their list of issues together."
Boswell said she hoped the new group would hold its first formal meeting and elect a board of directors in the next month or so.