Transit Commission approves OC Transpo 2021 draft budget

CITY HALL – The Transit Commission approved OC Transpo’s 2021 draft budget and the Revisions to Boundary of Urban Transit Area for 2021 report.

OC Transpo’s 2021 Draft Budget includes the following:

  • Freezing EquiPass fares and the Community Pass at 2019 levels.
  • A 2.5 per cent fare increase effective Jan. 1, 2021, except for low-income customers and those who are Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) recipients
  • Because of the 2020 fare freeze, there is a budget pressure of $5.1 million in 2021 that will be funded from transit reserves
  • Costs of the 2020 fare increase deferral have been included in the RTG claim
  • No service expansion on all modes of transit
  • Discretionary spending pause continues in 2021

The 2021 draft budget will be tabled for consideration and approval by city council on Dec. 9.

The Revisions to Boundary of Urban Transit Area (UTA) for 2021 report was approved at today’s (Nov. 18) meeting, and areas recommended for inclusion in the UTA will be effective Jan. 1, 2021.

“The UTA boundaries will now be consistent with the boundaries of the Urban Policy Area and will ensure that funding for urban transit service is consistent across all properties in the Urban Policy Area,” city staff released in a statement.

OC Transpo ran Operation Mask Up in October to help change the behaviour of the small number of customers failing to comply with OC Transpo’s mandatory mask policy.

Between Oct. 9 and 23:

  • 48 customers were denied access to the system for refusing to wear a mask
  • 10 customers were fined for not wearing a mask
  • 602 customers were told to adjust their masks as they were not wearing them properly
  • 33 customers had medical exemptions
  • 25 written warnings were issued prior to switching to the issuance of fines on Oct. 13

The commission received an operational update on O-Train Line 1 service today.

“Rideau Transit Group (RTG) continues to progress through its rectification plan to address the reliability issues affecting Line 1,” staff said. “RTG and Alstom have continued the daily inspection regime resulting from the wheel cracks, and a total of nine vehicles have had their train wheels replaced to date.”

The Transportation Safety Board’s investigation into the wheel crack issue is ongoing. OC Transpo and Rideau Transit Maintenance have completed their winter workshops and have reviewed winter operating plans. Specialized rail-borne equipment has undergone winter preparations, switch heather upgrade work is ongoing, and additional personnel resources are being added for the winter months.

Transit ridership in Ottawa has been at 28 per cent of usual levels since the start of the fall service change. Ridership decreased slightly through September and October due to the reinstated Stage 2 COVID restrictions. OC Transpo continues to monitor ridership as more customers return and will make adjustments as necessary.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, OC Transpo launched a Keeping You Safer campaign in November “to reinforce its commitment to customer and staff safety.”

The campaign includes interior and exterior sticker messages to promote confidence in riding OC Transpo, including: “We’re keeping your ride clean around the clock.”