OTTAWA -- The Confederation Line LRT will shut down to riders completely once again to give the Rideau Transit Group more access to the line to expedite fixes on the problem-plagued system.

In a memo to City Council, General Manager of Transportation Services John Manconi said the east-west Confederation Line will be closed Sunday May 31 and will reopen Thursday June 4. This comes after two closures in early May.

"This will be one of several closures this summer that will allow RTG to complete to complete the work associated with the rectification plan," Manconi said.

R1 bus service will replace the LRT and will be operating "frequently" to give riders physical distancing space. Ottawa Public Health has requested people only use public transit for essential trips.

The purpose of the latest closure is to allow RTG to test new train control software, Manconi said.

"Customers and residents will continue to see trains running for testing purposes, but they will not be available for use by customers."

Manconi also said infrastructure work will continue on the track and the overhead power system.

Fixes wanted by end of summer

At the May 13 City Council meeting, councillors heard RTG still hadn't provided a timeline for when the issues on the 12.5 km light rail line would be fixed.

There are seven elements RTG is prioritizing in its plan to improve the system: vehicle brakes, the overhead power system, switch heater failures, vehicle traction power, vehicle doors, vehicle auxiliary power, and vehicle HVAC systems.

While RTG had offered up timelines for individual items, city staff said the suggestion that some items would not be complete until the end of the year was unsatisfactory.

Manconi called on RTG to have the fixes completed by the end of August.

Given the reduction in ridership caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, transit staff said additional shutdowns would be planned to allow RTG to complete the necessary fixes, repairs, and testing to hopefully allow for better service come fall and winter.

A special meeting of the Transit Commission will meet virtually June 1 to discuss OC Transpo's pandemic recovery plan. The next scheduled Transit Commission meeting is June 17 and Chair Allan Hubley has suggested it will go ahead as planned. Past meetings in March, April and May were cancelled due to the pandemic.

City Council is also expected to hear an update on the transit system in June.