OTTAWA -- The Chair of the city’s Transit Commission says it appears a dirt build-up on top of some of the LRT trains caused them to stall New Year’s Eve.

Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley told Newstalk 580 CFRA’s The Morning Rush with Bill Carroll that Rideau Transit Maintenance was not thorough enough in cleaning the trains.

“What we’ve learned, so far, is there was some dirt gathering around where the power connects from the line overhead to the train,” he said. “So, they’ve now figured that out. They’ve put steps in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again by increasing the cleaning of that area and asking RTM to do a better job of pre-maintenance of the trains.”

The Confederation Line’s overhead catenary system powers the train by connecting to it through a device called a pantograph, which is mounted on the roof.

According to a City memo, the first train delay happened at 5:02 p.m. Tuesday at Cyrville Station. The train remained on the line until 6:51 p.m. The second train lost power west of uOttawa Station at 5:53 p.m. and wasn’t hauled away until 11:50 p.m.

R1 bus service was in place for transit customers, and Hubley claims delays were actually minimal, despite how long it took to haul away one of the stuck trains.

“The longest delay would have been for the people on the train when it broke down, and they would have been delayed anywhere from twenty minutes to a half-hour,” he said. “After that, the delays were no more than ten minutes.”

Regular service didn’t resume on the LRT until after midnight, according to an alert from OC Transpo.

Hubley said the train west of uOttawa remained in place for so long because OC Transpo’s priority was getting customers moving.

“We put processes in place right away so we could move those people out,” he said. “We’ll deal with the trains later. That’s why the train was parked for six hours. We took care of all the people that needed to get across town on New Year’s Eve and six hours later, when the opportunity presented itself, we went in and got that train to move it back to the maintenance garage.”

Hubley said he regrets this had to happen on New Year’s Eve, which was meant to be a night to showcase the LRT to people who may have never used it before.

“But these things happen and what’s important to me is we have something in place to deal with them.”