OC Transpo needs major restructuring, says mayor
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson is defending his draft budget, stressing that OC Transpo needs to undergo some major changes that will affect service to some bus routes.
The draft budget calls for $30 million in transit cuts over the next two years. The proposed cuts include $7.2 million this year and $23 million in 2012.
Watson told CTV Ottawa on Wednesday "there's no question" that millions of dollars in cuts will affect service. However, he adds that some people will also get better service because of the changes.
"Some may have less service, but some are going to have better service because right now we have a lot of milk runs that go in and out of communities. They're not particularly effective," Watson told CTV Ottawa on Wednesday.
"We've got to develop a system that actually gives people the confidence that when they're going to go on an express bus, it's going to get there on time; it's not going to get there early; it's not going to leave late; and it's actually going to be reliable."
He said if the city doesn't make changes now, property taxes could skyrocket over the next few years.
Watson also plans to reduce overtime among bus drivers, saying that spending millions of dollars in overtime is not an efficient way to run transit. He wants to hire new bus drivers to fix the problem.
The draft budget also calls for fares to go up by 2.5 per cent, starting in July. The fare hike would increase the cost of an adult monthly bus pass from $91.50 to a maximum of almost $94.
The city budget also earmarks $3 million for the purchase of a new O-Train. Watson says they're also considering purchasing more double-decker buses to reach the goal of transporting more people in fewer, larger vehicles.