Mayor Watson says LRT issues won't impact his decision to seek re-election
OTTAWA -- Mayor Jim Watson says his “obsession” today is to get the trains running along the Confederation Line.
Watson made the comment during an interview with CTV Morning Live’s Leslie Roberts on whether the issues plaguing the $2 billion light rail transit line would impact his decision to seek re-election in 2022.
“No, no not really. My decision whether I’m going to run again, I always say I make it about the mid-way point of the election campaign,” said Watson.
“I’ve had a lot of people come up to me over the course of the last couple of weeks, including a woman on the train today who said stick with it, the system’s good. It has its faults but you’ll work those out.”
When Roberts said he could find many people who say it’s time for the Mayor to go, Watson said “you take the good with the bad. When the system is running well, you’re a hero. When it’s not running well, you’re a zero. I can’t judge my political decision or my political life on whether the train is running or not.”
In February, Coun. Shawn Menard tweeted "I dare Jim Watson to run in the next election. He would lose. I just wonder when some Councillor's realize he is a sinking ship and their jobs are also at risk." The comment was made after the Transportation Committee selected Tim Tierney as the new chair.
The Confederation Line is running with 12 trains on Tuesday morning, instead of the 13 required for the morning peak period.
“My obsession, right now, as Mayor is to get the trains running,” Watson said.
“Once the system is up and running, and it has as close to 100 per cent reliability as we expect given other systems around the world, I think people will say – ‘you know what, we went through a lot of really rough times but it was worth it because we now have a system that we are proud of.”
Watson met with city staff and lawyers on Monday to look at all the options to deal with Rideau Transit Group and Rideau Transit Maintenance.
“Most of the time they’re actually delivering it, but too often they’re not,” Watson said about the issues with the Confederation Line.
The Mayor says he has not started discussions on finding another supplier to look after the maintenance contract for the rail line, and he doesn’t believe city staff has started looking either.
“They’ve been preoccupied with doing a couple of things. First and foremost is improving the service and putting the pressure on RTG to deliver the service.”
The Mayor added that at “the end of the day, once those issues are resolved all the talk of lawsuits and cancelling contracts will go out the window. If we’re satisfied customers, we’re going to continue to work with them in a positive way. ”
“If we are not satisfied and they have not stepped up to the plate to solve the problems, then we have to look at a number of options, including legal action against them.”