A city councillor vows to help Ottawa's struggling transit network by opening their wallet and personally purchasing a handful of used buses from the southern U.S.
Coun. Catherine McKenney told the city's transit commission Wednesday they'd found an ad for out-of-service articulated buses — eight of which were still operable — that had been put up for sale by the city of St. Louis, Mo.
"The sale won't last long. I think it's up by Oct. 25. And I am dead serious: I will pay [for them]," McKenney said.
"Given the situation we are in, we need to improve our service immediately. And we need these buses for the next time the LRT is down. So I've got my credit card ready to go."
Ottawa's light rail network has been out of service for more than a month, ever since a train derailed Sept. 19 near Tremblay station.
Since then, many transit riders have expressed anger and frustration at the state of the bus system.
According to the Metro St. Louis ad, the municipality is putting 13 scrap buses up for auction as one lot. As of Wednesday afternoon, they were going for a total of $1,525 US, or about $1,878 Cdn.
McKenney initially told transit commission they were on sale for $100, but soon after confirmed with CBC News the ad's price was correct.
St. Louis buses are indeed an option
"They can go through our communities to ensure that the people who are clerks in grocery stores, front-line workers, people who going to work in hospitals, people who have no other way of getting around the city will at least have eight articulated buses," McKenney told the commission.
Transit commission chair Coun. Allan Hubley said the idea was certainly feasible, although he also tempered expectations.
"There's five days left in the auction, so let's not just count on those buses just yet," said Hubley. "But it's a great option [and] I think all of the commission's in agreement, we've got to look at having a few more buses in the system."
Troy Charter, OC Transpo's director of transit operations, said his staff could certainly look into the idea and see what it would take to get the buses road-worthy.