Joel Harden MPP / Député, Ottawa Centre

Government of Ontario

Transit Town Hall

Published on December 18, 2019

Joel Harden
MPP - Ottawa Centre 

Transit Town Hall Report

Click here to download the PDF version of the report or read the webpage version below.



Thank you to all those that attended our transit town hall, or wrote to us about transit in our city. We had an exciting discussion over two hours on what isn’t going right with our transit system now, and what we can do to change that.

Many of the things we heard seemed obvious, but needed to be said, such as the need for an accessible, inclusive and free public transit system. We were also offered creative solutions to our tough problems, like accessible back entrances on buses, better communications via apps, and more. 

I am so honoured to represent a riding like Ottawa Centre, where we have an unlimited depth of knowledge and experience, and take those stories to Queen’s Park. Following our town hall, I asked the Premier what the province is doing to fix this mess, but didn’t provide an answer.

Thank you, as always for engaging with the issues that are important to us.


What our panelists had to say

Shawn Menard

Shawn was clear: our transit system in Ottawa is not successful, and that is because the plan was bad from the beginning. He especially 
highlighted the procurement model for the LRT and the gaps that left for real accountability to the public, who are paying for this.

“Our riders are the ones that know the system best, we need to listen to them”


Sally Thomas

As someone who uses multiple types of public transportation, including active transport, Para Transpo and OC Transpo, Sally highlighted the lack of accessibility in all our transit infrastructure.

She reminded us that in order to have a world-class transit system, the system needs to be accessible and inclusive of all abilities. This includes people with visible and invisible disabilities.  

“We need to have more cooperative seating on buses, because many people of many abilities use those seats. When I travel on the LRT, my chair takes up two seats and there are only four accessible seats on a car, so I usually have to be separated from my friends.” 

Sarah Wright-Gilbert

As both a transit rider and a member of the transit commission, Sarah brought a unique perspective to the room in addressing the need for more transparency and accountability from OC Transpo on what is going right and wrong with our transit system.

She reminded us that in order to encourage people to use public transit, we need to make the system work for them. This includes serving their needs, ensuring the buses and trains are not always crowded so they can be accessed by everyone and building a transit system for those that rely on it daily – not just to get people in and out of the suburbs. 

What you had to say

What are the challenges to our transit system currently? 

"Those of us with hidden disabilities or limited mobility are affected by the crowding on buses, which leads to pushing and shoving, and increased anxiety. This makes the transit system inaccessible to so many people. Our transit has never been accessible to people with visible and invisible disabilities, it’s not just the LRT."

- Christine

“Our culture of very car-centric and we need to change that. We have so much infrastructure for cars, but so little for public and active transport. Many of the times, these cars are only used by one person, which is disastrous for the environment.” 

- Muthanna

“Our transit system and with the current difficulties has resulted in many people using more cars, more buses idling and an overall increase in greenhouse gas emissions. We are in a climate emergency and we need to act immediately to ensure our transit system is not adding to that.”


What you had to say

What are the changes we want to see?

“We have to improve the communication between drivers and riders. We as drivers know the challenges facing riders and we need to be kind to one another” 

- Mike

“Our public services are important to protect. By privatizing our transit system, it only puts money into the corporations benefiting from the contracts and takes money away from the public.” 

- Shannon

“The best way to shift our car culture is to have free transit. It will encourage people to get out of their cars, and into buses.” 


 “Make the transport needs for women a priority”


What's next

Now that we have heard your stories, we want to do our part to amplify them. We have and will continue to bring your stories to the Ontario Government and OC Transpo, via Councillor Shawn Menard’s office.

We also know that we need a new deal for environmental policies in Ontario. The status quo will no longer work and what we heard at this town hall will help us shift that conversation so we can continue to fight for a livable planet.