OC Transpo offers the highest fare for a one-way trip in Canada. It cannot compete with the city’s low parking rates and the new “ridesharing companies”, which are often even cheaper than the public transit.
As fares increase in the City of Ottawa, OC Transpo offers only very limited discounts and no relief is to be expected: an annual increase(expected in July 1st 2019) of 2.5% means a single ride will cost $ 14.62 in 2048.
In 2018, while college and university students receive a discount at a rate equivalent to $ 51.88/month, students in elementary and high school, between the ages of 13 and 19, whose transportation is not covered by the school consortium must pay $ 89.75 / month, or $ 1,077 / year.
It is essential to revise the Youth fares in order to encourage the movement of our teenagers in the city, improve access to education and also encourage these young people, representing the future primary users of public transit services, to advocate for OC Transpo services.
Cities around the world have already taken the necessary steps to remedy this situation. There are, even nearus, concrete examples in neighboring cities :
– Kingston, ON: where students in grades 9-12 who attend public, separate and private schools, or home schooling, can use Kingston Transit FREE during the school year.
– Sherbrooke (QC): where the bus is free for elementary to high school students as well as college and university students.
– Calgary, Saint-Joseph-du-Lac & Winnipeg: offer free transportation throughout their territory.
We want the next generation to become accustomed to using public transit and to opt out of isolated driving by choice.
We recognize that rate reduction program will result in additional costs, and that funding sources will need to be identified. However, making youth and education a real priority requires significant investment.
Our actions today will help shape the future; it is now that we must act. Especially considering the significant changes to our transit services that will be coming soon in Ottawa with the introduction of light rail: help our youth identify with and hang on to public transit by offering an affordable solution.