Mayor calls for independent OC Transpo commission
Published Friday, March 19, 2010 4:22PM EDT
Ottawa's mayor says he's frustrated with OC Transpo, and is now calling for an overhaul of how the transit system is managed.
"All is not right at OC Transpo," O'Brien said in an exclusive interview with CTV Ottawa.
The mayor wants an independent commission to take control of the city's transit system. It would be separate from city council, similar to the airport authority.
Other cities run public transit this way, helping to avoid time-consuming debates over buses and trains.
"I for one believe that in a completely independent OC Transpo Commission, something that's charged, reporting to council, but charged with making sure we have the most economically viable and the most efficient system for the majority of citizens," O'Brien said.
If O'Brien chooses to seek re-election this fall, a big part of his campaign will likely focus on transit.
Right now, the biggest name on the ballot is arguably Jim Watson, who is also a past mayor.
Watson, who most recently held the position of Ontario municipal affairs minister, says he believes the mayor's record is linked to major problems at OC Transpo.
"When you look at the garage they were building, it went from $50- to $100- million; longest bus strike in Ottawa history; fare increases well above inflation -- those are political decisions. There's no sense in blaming the staff," Watson said on Friday.
OC Transpo has been under heavy criticism since bus drivers walked off the job in Dec. 2008, propelling the city into a winter transit strike that lasted almost two months.
Most recently, OC Transpo was fined $12,500 for failing to call out stops. It was the second fine issued to the city in less than one year.
City council approved a review of OC Transpo in February, saying transit riders deserve better service.
The decision was made after maintenance problems led to 100 cancelled bus routes in January, and the cost of a new bus garage jumped by tens of millions of dollars.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Graham Richardson