Thursday, September 16, 2010

Watson, O'Brien, and Haydon have different ideas for OC Transpo transit commission

At his transit platform presentation on Wednesday, mayoral candidate Jim Watson announced his support for establishing a transit commission, becoming the third candidate to make such a promise heading into the October 25 election.

Watson's website said he would be looking to:
Seek Council approval to create a transit commission that would be made up of a majority of councillorʼs and a minority of citizens with experience in the fields of transit, management, finance etc, including users of transit.
The commission as proposed by Watson would, as stated above, include mostly city councillors, but also members of the public at large. This is a slightly different format than that posed by other candidates who've promised commissions, including Larry O'Brien and Andy Haydon.

While O'Brien hasn't specified the structure of his proposed commission, his pledges to "detach the day-to-day management of OC Transpo from the day-to-day politics of City Hall" and "put the management of this asset in the hands of professionals" leads one to conclude that neither councillors nor members of the public would help form his commission, instead putting it in the hands of transportation experts.

Candidate Andy Haydon has taken a third approach, choosing to identify a group of six or eight councillors along with the mayor to form the transit commission. His commission would have total authority over OC Transpo including "route designation, purchasing and fare structures", according to Haydon's website.

Although it doesn't recommend a specific structure, the 2007 Mayor's Task Force on Transportation Moving Ottawa report did recommend "separating OC Transpo from the City bureaucracy and setting up an arm's-length operating entity with an appointed board fully accountable to City Council." And, in fact, they recommended it be done within 12 months of the June 2007 submission of their report. The three proposed formats for this election appear to meet those criteria, but differ in their


David Reevely said...

Keep in mind that "experts" and "members of the public" are likely the same thing. The police services board has three "members of the public" on it and they're a lawyer with a criminology background, a labour expert and a retired RCMP deputy commissioner.

None of them is, say, the chair of the Vanier Community Association's neighbourhood-safety committee or an ex-con who's gone straight but has an interesting perspective on street policing, or anybody like that.

Peter Raaymakers said...

Although that might very well be so, David, it wasn't my interpretation. It sounded like O'Brien would be looking for transportation experts, such as outside authorities, who may or may not be Ottawa residents at all. Watson, on the other hand, seemed to be looking for people who have personal experience with Ottawa transit, while a background in different fields--including transit, but also including management and finance--would be, to put it one way, an "asset qualification".