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Affordable Transit

Barrhaven West has always been known to have unreliable transit. Routes are constantly being cut, buses aren’t easily accessible in parts of the ward, and scheduled wait times can turn a 10 minute trip into 40.

Localizing Routes

Barrhaven as a whole has a population of 100,000 people. We are a city within a city. Much of what we need to live our lives can be found in this great neighborhood. But because we are so large in size, we need to have proper localized routes to ensure transit riders can get from their homes to shopping, work, school, and social activities. 

Let’s say you lived in Half Moon Bay and were looking to bus to the Walter Baker Centre to go swimming, use the cardio room, read at the library, or attend a community function. It could take upwards of 40 minutes compared to a 5-10 minute drive. Or if you wanted to bus from the Cedarview Middle School neighborhood to Marketplace for shopping, it could take upwards of 30 minutes compared to a  five minute drive. 

Our lives are busy enough. When people need to spend so much time commuting, they simply won’t do it. That’s been clearly shown following the COVID-19 pandemic. Park and rides across Barrhaven sit empty as downtown office employees opt to work from home, saving roughly an hour and a half to two hours of commenting. That time is now being spent with their families, doing social activities, and in their own community of Barrhaven which has many of the facilities we would need. 

So in order to get people using our public transit system again, we need to start with easily connecting the community. Localized routes seem to be where the future is heading. Yes we absolutely still need to ensure those who need to get downtown can do so in an easy fashion. But we also need to invest locally.

Affordable Transit

While free transit might sound good in theory, very few things are free in today’s world. We need funding to invest, but we also need to ensure we aren’t gauging people as we try to restore faith in the local transit system.

Transit fares in Ottawa are among the most expensive in the country. For many, a single ride has to be budgeted for, not to mention monthly passes which have simply become unaffordable for so many, especially for those who rely on public transit to get to their minimum wage jobs.

Let me be clear: while I’m not a supporter of free transit for all, I am a supporter of reducing fares. If the transit system becomes more affordable, more people will be willing to board the bus. We also need to have a revenue stream come in to improve our routes, essure we have enough drivers, and enough buses to ensure our vehicles don’t become uncomfortably crowded again.

Light Rail Transit Accountsbility

Phase 1 and 2 of light rail transit will be a game changer for Ottawa. It was needed to get the congestion out of the downtown core and move around commuters more quickly. 

But we have all seen the headlines over how problem-plagued the system has been. We have seen almost no accountability, finger pointing, and back room discussions which haven’t helped solve any glitches in the system. We must first work to ensure accountability is brought to Phase 1. We also need to be completely transparent with the public over issues we are facing. Phase 2 is a different story because it has new companies and contractors at the helm. The logistics are very different from Phase 1, and that is promising. We know Phase 2 will be delayed and that is to be expected, especially due to issues we have seen with supply chain issues and the COVID-19 pandemic. We must ensure we don’t make the same mistake again and not launch the system until it’s fully ready. We have unfortunately seen what happens when we rush a system due to internal pressures.

Barrhaven LRT

Plans have always been for Phase 3 of LRT to come out to Barrhaven and Kanata. While I’m not against possibly pursuing this, I think we need to put the brakes on any future plans — at least for now. The current price tag sits at $3.52 billion. That’s a lot of money. As commuters’ habits have changed, we need to look at if it’s still needed. We have a phenomenal transit way — the best in North America — and it received high praise when first opening. It works well when served by enough buses and proper connecting routes. I think that’s where our focus needs to be for now.

But any decisions we make need to have proper consultation from the public. That is something city council has lacked over the past number of years. We need to ask Barrhaven residents what would make them want to use the public transit system, what types of routes would benefit them, if they feel LRT is still needed for the community, etc… The next city council also needs to ensure they don’t just hear the opinions of residents who vote them in, but actually act on the needs of their community. 

I believe I have a very interesting perspective which I can bring to the council table. I worked at OC Transpo for 19 years. I started as a local bus driver and had the opportunity to speak daily with people who rely on our system. Over the past few years, I’ve been a Superintendent with Rail Operations. In that role I’ve seen how flawed our public transit system is, but also how much room for improvement we have. If we just listen to community needs and bring skilled people to the table, we can have the best public transit system in all of Canada.

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