OC Transpo On-Demand Service Will Leave More People Stranded

One of the big stories locally last week was the announcement by OC Transpo that they will be testing an on-demand service this fall.

Transit General Manager Renee Amilcar said the service will be similar to Uber. People will be able to book a ride through an app.

To implement the pilot program, OC Transpo will use Para Transpo vehicles that will sit idling, waiting for a call from a  rider.

I don’t know where to start with this, but I can say that it’s been, by far, the most requested topic for me to write about.

So, let’s get started, shall we?

My first and possibly most obvious question is, why aren’t these idling vehicles used for actual Para Transpo passengers?

I constantly read, as well as share my struggles with Para Transpo. My latest bad experience happened during the Ottawa Fringe Festival; I missed a few shows because my Para Transpo ride was delayed or didn’t show up.

In my far too many years of using Para Transpo, three significant issues have been consistently reported by me and many others.

1. Bad management and lack of communication.

2. Severe shortages of Para Transpo vehicles.

3. Severe shortages of Para Transpo drivers.

With that in mind, why are there idling Para Transpo vehicles? Why are the drivers not driving them?

Last week, a Para Transpo driver told me that some drivers had up to TWO hours of downtime between calls. When the drivers asked the dispatcher if they could pick up another rider, the dispatch said no. Meanwhile, a Para Transpo user(s) was probably waiting for a Para Transpo vehicle to appear.

In those situations, a Para Transpo driver could pick up AT LEAST one or two passengers.

Depending on location and other factors, the driver(s) could pick up three or four passengers each. Imagine three or four Para Transpo users waiting less time for a Para Transpo vehicle and feeling more satisfied with the service. Not to mention feeling more like a human being; their time and money spent on public transit is valuable.

Why is OC Transpo taking away MUCH needed Para Transpo vehicles and drivers during the pilot project?

To this day, Para Transpo users need to book their ride the day before. It’s often tough to plan 24 hours ahead. Also, what if I had to make a sudden trip to a store, a medical situation came up, a family emergency happened, or, God forbid, a friend invited me out at the last minute?


If correctly set up, and with BETTER MANAGEMENT of OC Transpo, yes, it COULD work and solve many problems for Para Transpo users.

However, I don’t trust OC Transpo to set this up and maintain it properly. They can’t even manage the service they already have.

The other thing that needs to be considered is that some people with disabilities aren’t physically able to use a smart device or don’t have internet access. How will they be able to book a ride on demand?

OC Transpo loves to make announcements giving the public the impression that they are doing their best to serve the public and regain their ridership and our trust.

OC Transpo is doing the complete opposite, especially regarding Para Transpo.

OC Transpo continues to ignore the needs of people with disabilities.

The answers are simple:

1. Listen to your paying customers, including people with disabilities.

2. Use as many Para Transpo vehicles and drivers, as humanly possible solely for Para Transpo riders.

3. Hire dispatchers who actually care about passengers and not just their jobs.

4. Upgrade your scheduling system.

5. If you insist on using on-demand booking, please make sure that every Para Transpo user can access the service,

6. Make sure that an adequate number of Para Transpo drivers and vehicles are available.

7. Show up when expected. Stop leaving people stranded.

8. Stop treating the public like guinea pigs with surprise pilot projects and sudden changes. Fix your issues before you start making new changes and make things more complicated.

Seriously, it’s not as complicated as it seems.