McAllister: Ottawa voters, be warned – there's no such thing as a free (bus) ride

By Christine McAllister, Ottawa Citizen, October 15, 2018

The City of Ottawa has a budget of over $3 billion. That’s our money, and it should be carefully managed to best benefit the residents of our city. Meanwhile, the provincial government’s actions on its budget demonstrate that the financial decisions of our new council will come under even more pressure. It is your vote that will select the councillors who oversee how this multi-billion-dollar corporation is run.

A good example is a recent proposal for fare-free transit.

Public transit should be accessible and convenient for people of all ages and incomes. It gets cars off the road and benefits our environment.

At first glance, free transit seems like a great idea. Who doesn’t like free? But investing significantly in one proposal may mean holding off on other priorities such as affordable housing, better city services, or fighting climate change. Free also means charging a student or senior the same as someone who can easily afford transit fares. Funding this nearly $200-million hole in the city’s budget through property taxes would require a further tax increase of $500 for each Ottawa household, or major service reductions in other areas.

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