Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has taken to social media on Thursday, to apologize for an LRT-related joke that he made at an event on Wednesday night. While Mayor Jim Watson’s LRT joke was well received by the audience at the event, there’s been some criticism of his comments online, and he’s taken to Twitter to say sorry.
For many of Ottawa’s commuters, there’s absolutely nothing funny about the city’s new LRT system, which has had seemingly endless problems since it was launched back in September.
Thanks to lengthy delays, cancellations and severe overcrowding issues, the system has seriously disrupted the lives of thousands of Ottawans, and an actual support group had to be set-up to help anxious passengers deal with the LRT nightmare.
So when Mayor Jim Watson attended an event on Wednesday and cracked a joke about the city's LRT system, some Ottawans were not too impressed with his lighthearted take on the situation.
"Sorry I was late, I was waiting for the LRT," Watson joked while at Ottawa Tourism's 24th annual Stars of the City recognition evening.
Watson followed up by adding, "That was the end of the LRT jokes!"
While the crowd at the event laughed in response to Watson’s jokes, some of Ottawa’s commuters didn’t think the situation was a laughing matter at all.
One transit user responded to Watson’s comments by saying, “How can you be so tone deaf? I’ve no words for this pathetic joke ...I guess he believes that as a politician he can make fun of peasants who have no choice but to rely on the transit mess that he created."
Another replied with a similar message, adding, “I’ll let you know if it’s funny tomorrow morning, with my continual nightmare commute from Richmond to downtown. And back."
A third wrote, “Not funny when people are in danger of losing their jobs over being repeatedly late."
After realizing that his comments had clearly offended some of Ottawa’s commuters, Watson took to Twitter to apologize for his LRT joke.
On Thursday morning, the Mayor tweeted, “I wish to apologize sincerely for the self-deprecating comments I made last night at an event. These were not intended to minimize the significant challenges that commuters have faced since the launch of LRT.”
In a follow-up tweet, he added, “I strongly believe that LRT is the right investment for Ottawa’s transit system, economy and environment. I want to thank Ottawa residents for their patience, as we continue to work on improving the system’s performance issues.”
Jim Watson has acknowledged the ongoing LRT issues on several occasions, taking to Twitter earlier this month to call-out the “awful experience” of riding on the new transit system.
Last week, the Mayor proposed introducing a three-month LRT fare freeze, in an attempt to make up for the terrible experiences that Ottawa travellers have had on the system since September.
It has not yet been confirmed whether or not this fare freeze will happen.
Despite initially being very positive about the city's new LRT, it seems that even Jim Watson has had enough of all of the new transit system.
After weeks and weeks of complaining from Ottawa's commuters, it remains to be seen if Mayor Watson can get this situation back on track.