Monday, September 5, 2011

Fare Hikes? For what?

Published in the Ottawa Sun on January 31, 2011

This morning I, like thousands of other Ottawa residents, went outside to wait for bus transportation to my place of employment. It was not a bad day: Not too cold, very little snow on the roads, and hardly any wind. And yet my bus showed up 25 minutes late.

In those 25 minutes I had a lot of time to consider and reconsider “we’re paying them more money, and yet they still cannot function an effective service?” In my five years of restaurant management, not doing your job properly meant punishments, not rewards.

Increasing fares by yet another 2.5% is unacceptable. This runs monthly passes to almost $100, and regular fare would be $3.33 (and who carries that specific change with them?)

There are clearly a number of things that need to change in this system. These not only include OC Transpo’s responsibilities, but riders’ responsibilities as well.

1. Riders need to have their pass, money, transfer, or tickets out and ready before the driver arrives. All too often have I seen people get on the bus, then hold up the entire bus because they can’t find their pass.

2. Create incentives for drivers to run their routes on time. These could include better shifts, higher pay, or a quarterly or yearly bonus.

3. Likewise, create punishments for drivers who run their routes late without any extenuating explanations. These could include less shifts, lower pay, and less (or no) bonus.

4. Supervisors need to enforce proper timings. A bus even one minute early or late is not acceptable, especially to those who run behind the bus as it continues to speed away.

5. Start enforcing smoking and bus bylaws. There are always people smoking on and within 10 metres of bus stops. A fine of $5,000 each could bring in some major cash for Ottawa.

Ottawa’s citizens need to get behind these changes and push for them to happen. Only if we hold them to account will they bother making any changes.