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OC Transpo running fare-free service across Ottawa LRT, buses all month long

All OC Transpo rides are free in the month of December. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

There is no need to tap your Presto card or drop change in the fare box in Ottawa this month — no-charge transit begins across all OC Transpo services on Wednesday through to the end of the month as a “gesture” to riders after recent light-rail shutdowns.

Buses, Para Transpo and LRT service will be fare-free for users for the month of December after city council approved the measures at a meeting in October.

The free service was contingent on OC Transpo running a full complement of 11 trains to meet current peak service demands, a feat the transit service hit on Monday.

Service on the Confederation Line resumed in mid-November with seven trains and some spares and incrementally increased over the course of the month.

Read more: Ottawa LRT inquiry to examine safety, tech, value and accountability — transportation minister

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Light-rail trains and maintenance procedures went through a full inspection following the Sept. 19 derailment, with transit officials assuring city council and members of the public that the new system is, indeed, safe to use.

South Kanata Coun. and transit commission chair Allan Hubley put forward the motion for the month of no-charge fares, calling it a “gesture” to Ottawa residents who have seen their commutes and ways around town disrupted with the 54-day shutdown.

Rideau Transit Group, the consortium tasked with building and now maintaining the Confederation Line, is expected to foot the roughly $7.2-million bill for the free transit experiment.

December might not be the only month of no-charge service in Ottawa’s future if transit advocates have their way.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the transportation committee, Capital Coun. Shawn Menard has a motion to explore the implementation of free transit as a possible policy tool.

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