Ottawa council hoping transit fare freeze will help ridership bounce back

Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe speaks with reporters at Ottawa City Hall in Ottawa, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022. Ottawa city council will freeze transit fares for one year in 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Spencer Colby

Ottawa city council is freezing transit fares for one year in an effort to restore the public’s trust after the light rail transit system debacle.

Council is also hoping that freezing fares at $3.75 for youths and adults will encourage more people to use public transit, particularly as they return to in-person work.

The move was also promised by Mayor Mark Sutcliffe in the fall municipal election campaign.

Read more: Ottawa council votes to end citizen roles on transit oversight commission

That was before the release of a final report into the failure of the city’s LRT project, which highlighted issues with senior staff and elected officials withholding information from councillors as the project ran over budget and behind deadlines.

OC Transpo reported in September that ridership is still 60 per cent lower than it was pre-pandemic, a trend that is echoed across the country in recent Statistics Canada data.

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The freeze could result in a $5-million dollar loss in revenue for the city and some councillors are raising concerns about what that will mean for other projects going forward.

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