Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ottawa Transit Cuts Proposal

The City of Ottawa has ordered firefighters to stop using fire trucks to go grocery shopping. The order is part of a proposal to reduce the amount of fuel used by city vehicles.

Firefighters will now have to buy groceries on their own time before their shift or arrange for delivery if they want to prepare meals at the fire station.

The order is included in an "eco-driving" policy presented to council Wednesday by Coun. Marianne Wilkinson. It will be modified and returned to councillors in the fall.

Considering that it has not yet been passed, the directive is premature, said Peter Kennedy, the president of the Ottawa Professional Firefights Association.

"It's had a real negative impact on the morale of the members and I think what we would have preferred is a consultation process," he said Wednesday.

Ottawa Fire Services has said it receives many calls from the public questioning why firefighters drive to grocery stores in fire trucks.

Kennedy said the practice is part of long tradition that arose because crews have to stay together at all times, in case they're called to an emergency. He added that firefighters are redistributed to stations across the city throughout the day, which means it's hard to predict how much food they will need to prepare meals for all the firefighters at a given station during a 10-hour day, a 14-hour night or a 24-hour shift.

Now, he said, it's unclear what vehicle firefighters will use to go grocery shopping and who will pay for the expense.
Transit cuts, telecommuting proposed

According to Wilkinson's motion, the city must spend an extra $400,000 a year on its vehicles for each one-cent increase in the price of a litre of diesel fuel.

By improving fuel efficiency, she said, the city can reduce costs without reducing services.

"I think that there's a lot of things we can do and some people are loath to even ask or even talk about them," she added.

Her proposal was modified Wednesday to allow for consultation. Fuel-saving suggestions from departments and managers themselves will be brought before council this fall.

Wilkinson's original proposal included a number of other ideas such as:

* Cancelling or changing transit routes with low ridership.
* Speeding up analysis of potential rail links outlined by the Mayor's Task Force on Transportation a year ago.
* Developing a protocol to allow employees to work from home part of the time.
* Revising police patrol routes to reduce fuel usage.
* Review the use of snow removal vehicles and other city vehicles to reduce fuel consumption.
* Ban city vehicles, including emergency vehicles, from idling even when it is very hot. The city bylaw that bans idling for more than three minutes applies only when temperatures are between 4 C and 27 C.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home