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Transit riders fill city hall with chants to fix transit

A rally took place at Ottawa City Hall Tuesday, calling for better transit service.

Para Transpo users are especially unhappy with the lack of options provided to them.

Transit riders marched inside city hall, chanting, "no more cuts, no more neglect." They want their beleaguered transit system fixed, and no increase to fares.

While the LRT and bus route changes get most of the attention, much of the spotlight on transit this week is on Para Transpo.

Kyle Humphrey has been using Para Transpo for almost 20 years.

"There's no same day booking, there's no 24-hour booking. So, I mean, those are the biggest issues I find," he says.

And now, there’s concern Para Tranpo users will be left out when a pilot project is launched in Blackburn Hamlet that uses the same mini buses.

"To watch them use the system in a way that isn't just going to help more conventional users, but it’s actually going to hurt Para Transpo users in the long run," says Humphrey.

The pilot project is only running on weekends. Councillor Wilson Lo says it won't affect Para Transpo service.

"We are using Para Transpo vehicles but it's very likely we'll be using conventional operators," says Lo. "It's not coming out of the existing mini buses that would be used to provide Para Transpo service on weekends, so the level of service on Para Transpo on weekends will not change."

Anyone can book the on demand service, but Para Transpo customers say service would not be up to standards for them.

"They're using regular bus drivers and so they haven't answered the questions," says Humphrey. "Things like, are they going to tie my chair down? Are they are they going to assist people into the bus if they need it?"

OC Transpo has 80 mini buses in its fleet and 44 are used on weekends.

Sally Thomas, another Para Transpo user and disability transit advocate, says offering this service to conventional riders now is discouraging.

"We've been asking for that for years, or that sort of service for Para Transpo users for years, like close to 10 years. And suddenly it's available to people who have other options," says Thomas.

"Watching my peers be handed the LRT and overnight service and this same day booking service, all things that we've been asking for, hurts more and more every day," adds Humphrey. Top Stories

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