Dr. John Hollins, past Chair of the Board, CACOR, published an OpEd in the Ottawa Citizen, 2 Feb 2019
Transpo bought 133 double-deckers on good advice. Was it a big mistake? Jan. 26.
Kelly Egan, like most observers of OC Transpo’s safety record, addresses the nuts and bolts. He notes that the collision with a train in 2013 and with a building in 2019 both involved double-decker buses. The Ottawa Police Service, with the support of the Transportation Safety Board, will no doubt competently address the technical aspects of the recent collision and the performance of the operator.
There is another factor common to these two collisions, a human dimension: the management culture of OC Transpo. The culture of a corporation is ultimately determined by its board of directors. The board in this case is a committee of City Council, eight councillors and the mayor ex officio, plus four citizens.
They are all fine people, no doubt, but do they collectively possess what it takes to run a public transit corporation that in 2016 (most recent annual report) spent on operations and capital expenditures about $1 billion?
Compare city-owned Hydro Ottawa, another billion-dollar corporation, whose board has just two sitting city councillors and nine other directors who possess a vast range of experience in corporate governance. It is time to examine not just the technical issues in the recent collision, but the business model of public transit in Ottawa.
John Hollins, Gloucester
(Editor’s note: Dr. Hollins was President of Blackburn Hamlet Community Association when, as a non-profit corporation, it launched the first express bus service in the Ottawa area in 1972 over the objections of the Ottawa Transit Commission.)