Thanks to several weeks of continuous issues, problems and delays with the capital city's brand-new LRT transit system, Mayor Jim Watson is now calling for an Ottawa LRT fare freeze. In an attempt to make up for the terrible experiences that travellers have had on the LRT since September, Watson is proposing a three-month fare freeze, meaning that there will be no price increase for the service until at least March 2020.

Because delays, cancellations and overcrowding have plagued the new LRT system since day one, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and Transit Commission Chair Allan Hubley want to see OC Transpo fares stay the same, until at least March of next year.

In a letter to Ottawa's city manager, Steve Kanellakos, on Friday afternoon, the pair explained, "Our transit users have been experiencing far too many challenging and uncertain commutes over the last month, given the ongoing issues and service interruptions on LRT."

According to the Mayor’s Twitter post, the need for a temporary LRT fare freeze has "become obvious."

The letter went on, “ ... We will be recommending to Transit Commission and Council a fare freeze from January to March, which is to be covered by the funds withheld from maintenance payments to RTG. We would ask that you take the necessary steps to secure the required funds.”

Acknowledging that the LRT may not improve in the weeks to come, Watson added, “Please be prepared to bring forward a funding plan to extend the freeze beyond March 2020, should service to our transit passengers not improve to the City’s satisfaction.”

Transit fares were set to rise by 2.5% on January 1, just months after another price increase took place in October.

However, after countless morning delays, serious overcrowding issues, and widespread shutdown on the service, it’s looking like Ottawans might be able to avoid this January price-hike.

There’s been delays, cancellations and persistent malfunctions since the system launched in September, and it’s become so bad that an actual support group has had to be set up for anxious and overwhelmed passengers.

Last week, Mayor Watson took aim at the new LRT for the first time, saying he was “furious” about the “awful experience” on the new system.

He concluded his letter on Friday by stating, “Our hope for our customers certainly remains that issues will have been resolved over the coming months, and that service will have significantly improved and stabilized.”

It’s not yet clear whether this price-freeze will come to fruition next year, but Mayor Jim Watson’s comments are likely to be taken extremely seriously by the city manager.

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