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'Gimmick' or not, Ottawa public transit users can expect to ride for free in December

Mayor Jim Watson says if the LRT is still down on December 1, the free transit month will be delayed until it's up and running.
2020-01-17 OC Transpo bus winter DD1
OC Transpo bus, January 2020. Dani-Elle Dubé/ CityNews

Ottawa residents are expected to get one month of free public transit service this December.

A motion was put forth by Transit Commission Chair Allan Hubley and Mayor Jim Watson at Wednesday's city council meeting. They're calling it a gesture to customers, to try to win them back after recent gaps in service caused by O-Train derailments in August and September.

Not everyone was on board with the idea, however. 

Gloucester-Southgate Ward Councillor Diane Deans is calling it a 'gimmick.'

"Offering free transit in December is not a solution to a transit service that is on life support," she told her fellow councillors at the October 13 meeting.

The motion passed by a vote of 17 to 6 after some heated debate and questions about what happens if the light rail system is still down in December. Mayor Watson says the month of free transit would begin in December, once east-west LRT service resumes.  If train services are still down, the free transit month will be delayed. 

City Manager Steve Kanellakos expects to get a sense for when light rail service will be returning sometime this week.

The city says the money it won't be giving to the Rideau Transit Group (RTG) due to ongoing issues with the trains will pay for the month of free transit.




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Mike Vlasveld

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Mike Vlasveld, Digital Editor, CityNews Ottawa & the Valley
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