The city learned yesterday it would receive $12.3 million over 12 years to help renew and replace its aging buses — the same day the condition of OC Transpo’s fleet came under fire by the transit union.

 


The Ontario Bus Replacement Program was announced in the last budget, but Ottawa’s share of the fund was revealed at the St. Laurent Bus Depot yesterday. Transportation Minister Jim Bradley said commuters could expect more comfortable rides on new, more accessible buses as Ottawa’s share of funding begins to flow.

 


“I think we’ll see a future movement towards public transit. The replacement of buses will make it even more attractive to use public transit,” said Bradley.

 


According to a report yesterday by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279, new buses are needed. Maintenance on the ones Ottawa has, the union claims, has been neglected.


“Preventative maintenance … is now being ignored as mechanics spend the vast majority of their time focusing simply on patching together the number of buses needed for that day,” the report — entitled A Transit System In Crisis! — concludes.


The provincial funding covers 33 per cent of the buses and bus improvements, leaving the city responsible for a two-thirds share.


The city will have 48 articulated buses, each at a cost of $640,000, on the roads by September, said Jean-Yves Carrier, the city’s manager of transit fleet engineering.


The city is also expected to put three double-decker buses and two diesel-electric hybrid buses on the road by the end of 2008.


“This is essential for the city of Ottawa,” said Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi.