Thursday, October 21, 2010

2010 Election: Watson on ParaTranspo

Over the course of the 2010 Mayoral Election campaign, Public Transit in Ottawa will be sitting down with as many mayoral candidates as are available, discussing their platforms and thoughts on transit in this city, and what they hope to achieve during their mandate, if elected mayor.

It was interesting to note that on the day I interviewed Jim Watson about his mayoral campaign, one of his campaign volunteers was arriving in his office at about the same time--although she was later than she had expected, because the ParaTranspo ride she had booked was significantly later than the time scheduled. So she underlined to Watson the importance of finding a way to improve the reliability of ParaTranspo to the mayoral candidate, and Watson and I discussed it afterwards.

Recently, Ottawa's transit committee voted in favour of a full review of the ParaTranspo service, which Watson thinks is a necessary step in figuring out what the problems are so that they can be fixed.
We went through a strike with ParaTranspo, which was very hard on a lot of people. A number of years ago, we went through the privatization and then the un-privatization and my volunteer, I think, is reflective of a number of people who find it frustrating when you book for a certain time, and it’s an hour late. If you have a doctor’s appointment, or a work engagement, you can’t operate on ‘I’ll try to come by within an hour and a half.’ You have to be more precise. [...] So I think the review will allow us to put all the cards on the table and figure out exactly what is wrong with the system, why do we continuously have these periods where people can’t even get a booking, let alone if they do get a booking it’s quite late.
And if his campaign volunteer didn't underline the importance of the service thoroughly enough, Watson noted that Ottawa's aging population is going to make an effective ParaTranspo service that much more important.
We have an aging population; the baby boomers are becoming senior citizens, and as a result, we don’t have the kind of forward planning that we need to determine, "Alright, what are the needs of the aging society?" both the disabled and able-bodied seniors who need ParaTranspo.
Watson has proposed that he would hold a global 'senior's summit' to discuss issues such as these ones about ParaTranspo.

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