c_doucet_en-11Councilor Clive Doucet
Ward 17: The Glebe, Sunnyside, Old Ottawa South and Carleton U.

‘Doucet Breaks Rank’ read the headline of the Ottawa Citizen, referring to the fact that the councilor is the only one to have spoken his views on the bus strike independently of city hall. His point: control over schedules isn’t worth the pain all sides are feeling from the strike.

Last week Doucet made the news again when he suggested that the city’s handling of the strike was less then perfect.

Doucet has represented the patch of town from the Glebe to Billings Bridge since 1997. An urban anthropologist by training, he has published several books, including four works of poetry, musings on his acadian heritage and a novel. His latest work, Urban Meltdown suggests that it is politics that are responsible for sluggish action on environmental issues, since councilors cannot get elected without pandering to cars.

Doucet has an excellent record on environmental issues, receiving top marks in Ecology Ottawa and the Sierra Club’s annual report card on city councilors. He got an A in 2008 for voting for a motion to reduce road speed and voting against deferring the purchase of electric buses for OC transpo.

On the light rail system, the literal third rail of Ottawa politics, Doucet favors a two rail electric system that would follow Carling Avenue into Kanata, arguing that such a system has low operating costs and would add a significant number of users to the Ottawa public system, thus attracting federal and provincial funds.

…check out this site: Public Transit in Ottawa. It’s run by a couple of Ottawa University students (current and former) and links to news sources, polls and other data relating to transit issues. They also have interviews with local politicians, such as Ottawa MPP Yasir Naqvi and the Green Party’s David Chernusenko.

The Strike Continues…

January 9, 2009

Bus drivers just rejected the city’s offer. The margin: 64.4%.
CP reports 2,300 bus drivers have been on strike since Dec. 10, 2008.

Yuck.

I Support the Bus Drivers

January 7, 2009

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect an official position of apt613.

I live downtown. I live downtown because I don’t want, and typically don’t need, a car. I (foolishly) don’t work downtown; I work in Ottawa South. Fortunately I’m in good health and I can get to work in just under an hour. That’s just less than two hours of walking a day. I wish I’d canceled my gym membership.

I whine a lot about my walk to and from work but I stand by the bus drivers. I’m not going to get into what the bus drivers want and what the city wants to take away; to me that’s mostly noise and should stay behind closed doors.

What I really find concerning about the strike is the way it’s being handled and the attitudes of Ottawans.
The city, it seems, never seriously went to the bargaining table. It appears to be their sole goal to extend this strike as long as possible.

The majority of citizens, according to a city poll, believe it is important that the city stick to their guns. To this reader, they’re saying they want to see the city break the union. In a city full of unionized employees it boggles my mind.

I keep hearing people say that this isn’t the time for striking. That those lazy bus drivers should be happy they have jobs. I can’t help thinking: It’s never a good time for transit to strike and Ottawa has a stable job market, so how does this add up?

Gwyn Morgan cheerily concluded in his Monday column for the Globe and Mail:
But crises create opportunity: In this case, the long overdue opportunity for governments and the general public to stand up to union demands, even when it means enduring strikes and hiring unemployed replacement workers glad just to have a job.

We don’t need unions in good times. In good times employers compete for employees. In bad times, if you’re lucky, your union makes sure that there is a discussion and a compromise is reached. Gwyn Morgan and I agree that this crisis has created opportunity here I just hope that good employers don’t take it.

The most shocking thing about this strike has been the attitude of my fellow commuters. They have turned on the bus drivers as if the drivers have personally decided to betray every single one of them. I fear for the safety of the bus drivers on their return and I’m considering bringing them cookies.

The drama of the Ottawa Transit Strike is always continuing. Today the labour board is looking for stories of people hurt by the strike in order to make transit an essential service. On one hand this is wrong as it removes the right of the bus drivers to strike, but it forces the city to the table and the service often gets a better deal than otherwise possible.

Check out the Union website and the city website for more drama.

Unhappy customers

As the entire greater Ottawa region knows, OC Transpo drivers have been on strike since Wednesday December 10th. Without wanting to go into details, it appears that the main issue of discontent between the drivers and the city is not money but the control of work schedules. The city would like to remove the right of senior drivers to choose their shifts. This is seen as a money saving operation by the city government which would actually make sense. Instead of having senior drivers rack up overtime while younger drivers work thirty or so hours a week, wouldn’t it make sense for everyone to work a standard 37.5 or 40 hour work week like everyone else? I’m just saying…

The bus strike has angered many citizens. While the strike would have vastly disrupted the daily lives of many at any time of year, three factors make it worse at this particular point in time. It is now winter, the first snow storms have come and will keep coming and it sucks to walk two hours to and from work everyday. It’s getting close to Christmas and more people will be moving about to prepare for Christmas. At the same time, the current economic state means more people are more susceptible to watch their pennies and take public transport instead of a taxi. At that, trying to find a taxi has become next to impossible. In the last few days, I’ve read and asked around to try and see what alternatives Ottawa folks have used in lieu of the bus to get around town.

If there are some that I’ve forgotten please add them in the comments section!

1- Carpooling: a lot of work places have begun forums or posted carpooling options for people living in the same neighbourhood. It’s a fantastic idea and a nice opportunity to get to know more people from our work and neighbourhood. At the same time, it’s an initiative that has potential to last beyond the strike.

2- For the brave ones: bicycling. It’s snowed a lot in the last two weeks but some are still using old faithful. I can only congratulate them on their temerity and perseverance.

3- More relaxed parking rules at certain spots for vehicles: You are able to park all day where one-, two-, and three-hour parking is currently permitted. You are not able to park where stopping and parking are prohibited.

4- Bring your work home if you can.

5- Sharing a vehicle through VRTUCAR. Check http://www.vrtucar.com/

If there are any alternatives that I’ve forgotten please add them in the comments section!

Here’s a good website by a fellow blogger to stay in the know on what’s going on with the strike: http://www.transitottawa.ca/