CBC: Councillors kept in dark on transit fix

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McKenney, Brockington say they've received no details of plan to bring back buses

Darren Major, CBC

Two councillors on the city's transit commission say they've been kept in

the dark about a plan to bring 40 buses out of retirement to help ease the strain on Ottawa's problem-plagued transit system.

On Friday, Mayor Jim Watson announced $3.5 million will be added to OC Transpo's budget to boost service levels and revive such key routes as the 39, 257 and 75.

But councillors Catherine McKenney and Riley Brockington, who sit on the transit commission, said they haven't heard any details on precisely which routes will be bought back into service, or when.

"I'm not sure what the plan is for the 40 buses the mayor announced Friday. I've not seen that detail. I'm still waiting for it," McKenney said in an interview with CBC.

In an emailed statement, Brockington said he was similarly caught off guard by Friday's announcement.

"The announcement by the Mayor and Chair of the Transit Commission was made without any advance notice or consultation with members of the Transit Commission or City Council from what I understand," Brockington wrote.

Watson said the buses would be back in service this week, but did not specify when they'll hit the road.

On Monday, the city refused to confirm whether the buses are already back in service, deferring questions to Wednesday's transit commission meeting.

CBC also reached out to Coun. Allan Hubley, chair of the transit commission, but did not hear back.

Questions 'need to be answered'

"The details of which routes, when they will go [into] operation, and how the plan was put together need to be answered by the Mayor and Chair of the Transit Commission," Brockington wrote.

McKenney said she's been getting angry emails from transit users across the city, not just her ward.

"It's been a phenomenon that I haven't seen before," McKenney said. "This is just people sitting down [at] their computer, just sending an email with their frustrations. So people want to be heard."

That has spurred McKenney to draft a motion calling on the city to conduct broad consultations with transit users, similar to the ones conducted in 2011 when the city implemented its "route optimization plan," which took $2 million out of transit operations at the time.

"We have to go out and we have to consult with the real transit experts, and those are the transit users," McKenney said.

She plans to introduce the motion at Wednesday's meeting.

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