Although we’ve existed for two years as the “People who collect your stories of street harassment”, we’ve recently been known as the “People who are angry at OC Transpo”.
Yes, we are both these things.
But it never was, nor will it ever be, about some vendetta. See, we approached OC Transpo and City Hall in February 2013 to share what we had been hearing about harassment on transit. At best, we were brushed off. It wasn’t until women came forward, telling their stories of violence on public transit, that we had a real seat at the table, so to speak.
We’ve worked on trying to build a relationship with OC Transpo and in many ways, they’ve worked at trying to gain our trust back, too.
But when a woman is sexually assaulted at a transit station and one of their initial responses is “It did not take place on transit property”? Well, we’re a little skeptical of their commitment to safety.
When we get a tip from a transit rider than Millennium Park & Ride, an incredibly deserted station in the city’s east end, has no emergency assistance phones or cameras and hasn’t for a while? Well, we’re a little skeptical of their commitment to safety.
One of the two emergency ‘call-buttons’ at Millennium Station. Clearly, not in working condition!
Second emergency call-button at Millennium Park & Ride. No emergency button, no camera!
We’re going to assume that the exposed wires are proof that this thing isn’t operational.
Our report showed that 44% of survey respondents had experienced at least one incident of harassment on public transit in the last year.
We’ve made our simple, cost-efficient, effective strategies for addressing harassment on transit known since day one. Change can happen in Ottawa. It really can.
Wednesday, August 20th at 9:30am in the Council Chambers at City Hall, there will be a Transit Commission meeting. The public is welcome to show up and make a public statement. More information about the meeting can be found here.
If you can make it, we encourage you to attend. Have your voice heard. Hold OC Transpo accountable. And maybe, just maybe, we won’t have to open up our papers and read these stories anymore.
– The Holla! Ottawa Team