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Transit route supporters go unheard

Ottawa’s transit committee yesterday refused to hear from residents trying to stop cuts to OC Transpo’s Route 245.

Ottawa’s transit committee yesterday refused to hear from residents trying to stop cuts to OC Transpo’s Route 245.

During budget deliberations, council decided to eliminate service south of Manotick next month because of low ridership. The cut is expected to save $25,700.

The transit committee voted against making an exception to procedural rules and hearing the petitioners.

Coun. Jacques Legendre, who was among the nays, said that while 170 people had signed a petition, as few as four people actually ride the bus.

“If that many people really want the service, maybe they should buy a bus pass (and) the service would not have been cut,” he said.

Ridership figures are in dispute, said transit chairman Alex Cullen, who had introduced the motion to hear the petitioners.

“This matter came up during the budget without notice to that community,” Cullen said, “and so the community is saying, ‘Wait a sec, give us a chance to talk to you about it, we think we have a viable route here,’ and it’s unfortunate that this committee wouldn’t hear it.”

Several residents who had arrived with prepared presentations expressed frustration both at the route cut and at not getting a chance to address the committee.

They included former freestyle skier Mike Nemesvary, who uses an electric wheelchair and whose partner and caregiver doesn’t drive.

“This is our lifeline,” said Nemesvary, who won three World Cups before a 1985 training accident left him a quadriplegic. “This is the only option we have for public transportation as a couple.”

He received the key to the city in 2003 for activism on behalf of the disabled.

“A lot of people ask, ‘What does the key open?’ and now I can say nothing, not even the eyes and the ears of councillors on an important issue,” he said.

 
 
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