Posts Tagged ‘oc transpo 2008 strike


*shakes head*

I try to be an advocate for this city as much as possible, but it’s difficult, sometimes.

City revises bus rider incentives (after canceling them altogether, at one point)

Council meeting spirals out of control

As far as the bus incentives are concered, their decision is basically the worst of both worlds. Discounted bus fars won’t be anywhere near as effective at luring people back onto buses, but at the same time the transit budget will still be way out of balance. On top of that, I’m that transit riders are probably going to end up confused by all the changes and back and forth.

On a positive note, at least the Lower Duck Island bridge proposal seems to have been quashed, and hopefully for good. Of course, the fact that they’ve left it open to reconsideration means that it will probably be put back on the table and then dropped again at least two or three more times.

In short, it’s a wonder that this Council gets anything done sometimes. Reading the Citizen’s coverage of the meeting makes it sound as if it routinely dissolved into petty squabling and sniping across the room. And you know what, guys? That isn’t the way to run a city. City Council should be all about working together, and finding solutions that work for everyone (or at least as many people as possible). It’s time for City Councilors to start taking a holistic view, and working out what’s best for the city as a whole, not just for the constituents of their ward. I realize that it’s a political balancing act, but something obviously needs to be done, as I think it’s fairly self-evident that the confidence most Ottawans have in their city’s government is starting to slip.


Breaking news: Strike over!

From CFRA:

“Three reliable and independent sources inside city hall tell CFRA news that negotiators representing the striking drivers, mechanics and dispatchers have agreed to end the strike and to send all matters to binding arbitration.

It is believed the resolution could pre-emp the need for an emergency debate in the House of Commons, and the need for back-to-work legislation forcing an end to the 51-day walkout.”

All I can really say about this is it’s about time. I can’t wait to see buses back on the road, especially with Winterlude and President Obama’s visit just around the corner.

EDIT: CTV is also saying it’s over. The Citizen’s David Reevely, says “close but not settled” on Twitter.


Clive Doucet calls out Mayor on transit strike

I may not agree with everything Clive Doucet says or does, but I’m entirely in agreement with him on the issue of the strike, and I’ll always respect his willingness to speak out. In an article in the Citizen, Doucet is quoted saying that “[City Council] screwed up. We need to get going with Plan B. Plan A is not working.”

He also notes that he feels Larry O’Brien deceived City Council into thinking that scheduling was not as big an issue to union members as it is in reality.

This may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, if other Councillors follow Doucet’s lead. If that should happen, we’re likely to see the city come back to the negotiating table with a lot more flexibility on the scheduling issue, which might be the fastest way to end this strike. At this point, we can only hope.


More on transit privatization

Over at Greater Ottawa, David Reevely has written an excellent summary of why privatizing OC Transpo would be a bad idea. It’s very well written, and I strongly recommend you check it out.

As an incidental aside, I’m in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan right now for the Canadian University Press national conference. I took some time to explore the city a bit earlier today, so I’ll probably be writing up my impressions sometime next week.


Transit privatization

I’ve seen some talk around the Internet regarding privatizing OC Transpo, with the thinking being that it would be better able to handle the current dispute. That may very well be so, but overall, privatizing transit in Ottawa would likely be a disastrous move.

For starters, any private company has one basic, overarching goal: to turn a profit. And OC Transpo is anything but profitable. One of the current goals of the City is to recover 50% of OC Tranpo’s operating costs from the farebox. Naturally, that means that the other 50% must come from two sources; advertising and the City budget. I don’t know exactly how much revenue comes from advertising, but I can promise you that it isn’t enough to make up the difference.

So if you’re a company that’s purchased OC Transpo, what do you see? Massive losses, and the need to cut expenses and raise profits. So how do you do that? Well first, you’d probably raise fares, because $3 per ride is practically letting people on for free. Next, you’d probably want to maximize your profit per bus (consquently cutting expenses, as well), so you’d probably cut back on trip frequencies so that buses are full more of the time. It’s at this point that you’d also begin to eliminate non-profitable routes, so say goodbye to local buses during non-peak hours and buses running with any kind of reliable frequency during the evening. You’d probably cap it all off by liquidating your assets, selling off dozens of now-uneeded buses in the fleet.

In short, we’d end up with higher fares and reduced service, overall. Take a look at almost any example of privatized bus transit in the UK, and you’ll see a similar patterm emerge. Intraurban bus transit simply is not a good business proposition, as buses have a high overhead operating cost and a very slim profit margin. Private bus transit simply will not work in Ottawa, and a solution needs to be found within the confines of the system, instead.

EDIT: I just wanted to add in a quick link to Transit Ottawa’s look at media coverage of the strike. As a journalist, it’s pretty interesting to see how the coverage has changed and evolved over the short period that the strike has lasted so far, as well as the contrast between the Sun’s somewhat sensationalist coverage and the Citizen’s more measured coverage.


OC Transpo Strike, Day 1

A lone commuter waits for a bus that isn't coming at Bank station.

A lone commuter waits for a bus that isn't coming at Bank station.

Since midnight last night, OC Transpo has been on strike. This combined with a heavy snowstorm and a half-closed Chaudière Bridge led to a pretty terrible combination for Ottawa today. I was in Centretown between about 2:30 and 3:30, and I didn’t notice any excessive chaos, though I did find traffic was noticeably heavier than normal. I don’t really have much else to say about the whole thing at the moment, but here are a few more pictures I took, after the jump.

Continue reading ‘OC Transpo Strike, Day 1’

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Email: dmccl033(at)uottawa(dot)ca

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