At the City Council meeting on Wednesday, February 28th, Council approved policy changes and amendments to the Transit By-law to align with how transit will operate when the O-Train Confederation Line comes into service. A vote taken prior to approval resulted in 15 in favour with six opposed.
The approved policy changes recommended by the Transit Commission include:
- Permitting customers to bring bicycles on the O-Train Confederation Line vehicles at all times, except during times of extraordinary crowding (such as those during peak periods), using designated doors and positions inside the trains.
- Allowing small pets on all transit vehicles and in stations at all times, provided they are in an animal carrier or crate that can rest on the customer’s lap.
- (Some residents have expressed concerns regarding potential allergens, however, Ottawa Public Health has looked into the concern and foresees no major issues as these allergens already exist in most vehicles)
- Developing a procedure for busking at transit stations.
- Updating terminology on rail operations, fares, accessibility and service animals.
I had voted against this item from the perspective of allowing bicycles on board at all times except during times of “extraordinary crowding”. I felt that there was not a clear enough definition regarding what “extraordinary crowding” periods look like. For example, bus drivers, cyclists, or transit constables may have very distinct opinions surrounding the conditions of “extraordinary crowding” and the term could be interpreted in many different ways.
My office frequently receives communication from residents that buses to/from Stittsville are regularly overcrowded, often leaving individuals standing/crammed during transit or left behind at a stop entirely. Adding bicycles to the mix in addition to personal mobility devices (ie: strollers, walkers, and wheel chairs) could cause space to be that much more limited.
I would have liked to see a trial period implemented (for approximately 8 months after LRT launches in November) and the wording clarified before final approval was passed on the amendments. With that said, I am happy that these changes will help to promote cycling as a greener alternative for transportation in Ottawa.
The updated by-law will take effect on Monday, April 2nd.