le Samedi 28 mai 2022
le Mercredi 10 février 2021 16:15 Autres - Others

Township finalizes transport cancellation

The final bill for the early cancellation of the Russell Transpo contract is expected to be about $185,636, almost $90,000 less than originally estimated — photo Stephen Jeffery
The final bill for the early cancellation of the Russell Transpo contract is expected to be about $185,636, almost $90,000 less than originally estimated
photo Stephen Jeffery
Russell township will pay $90,000 less than originally projected to the operators of Russell Transpo after voting to cancel the service at the end of last year.

A three-two majority voted to cancel the publicly funded Russell Transpo service between the township and Ottawa at the last council meeting of 2020. The contract with operator 417 Bus Lines, due to expire in 2023, required the council to provide six months’ notice of early cancellation, meaning that the agreement would not expire until June 30 this year.

Under the arrangement councillors initially approved in December, the township owed $274,576 to 417 Bus Lines. The figure covered the cost of three buses between February and May, as well as additional fees for January and June. 

But councillors raised concerns about the payment of 100 percent of invoices during the suspension of the service in the first half of 2021, and asked administrators to renegotiate aspects of the options to reduce the cost to the township. During reduced service levels during the pandemic, the township had been charged only 50 percent of the regular invoice for four buses. 

Staff presented an alternative plan that would cost $185,636 at the February 1 council meeting. Under the new option, no service would be provided between January and June 30, 2021, which cost $27,366 per month between February and May. January cost the township $34,208, while $41,961 was charged for June, including an eight-day penalty.

The vote in favour of the lower-cost option mirrored the December vote to cancel the Russell Transpo contract. Councillors Mike Tarnowski and Jamie Laurin voted in favour with Mayor Pierre Leroux, while André Brisson and Cindy Saucier voted against.

Before the COVID-19 shutdown, about 225 commuters regularly used Russell Transpo buses between the township and downtown Ottawa and Gatineau. At the December meeting on the service’s future, councillors who voted to cancel the contract raised concerns about public funding a bus service when neighbouring municipalities used private operators.

At the February 1 meeting, Leroux said he believed everyone on council understood the bus service was an important service, but said the question was whether it needed to be publicly funded.