Thursday, October 4, 2018

Candidate calls for #freepublictransit in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Jurisdictions with free transit have seen increases in ridership, reduced commuting times, lower greenhouse-gas emissions and better service. A free system also offers savings through decreases in fare enforcement and collection costs; imagine what could be done with the millions the city spends each year on the Presto system.
Those who take a narrow view of public transit ask how we can possibly pay for transit without squeezing the riders. This question is never asked when we talk about expanding road infrastructure, for which we pay $50 million a year.
We don’t ask our roads to make profits. Why treat public transit differently?
Free transit would make our city safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Accessible public transit would increase access to employment, and participation in the social, political and cultural life of the city. Equitable and reliable public transit is a public good.
Changing the old ways at City Hall won’t happen overnight. We can start with free bus routes along Bank Street. We can start by guaranteeing free transit to those who need it the most but can’t afford it.
I have promised to fight for our city and that fight must include a move to a truly free and a truly public transit plan. 

Shawn Menard, a former senior staffer for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, is a candidate in Capital ward for Ottawa city council. Follow him at @Shawnmenard1 or