Peter Lauch leaving Rideau Transit Group
OTTAWA -- The CEO of the consortium that built and now maintains Ottawa's $2.1 billion Confederation Line LRT is leaving his job.
The Rideau Transit Group (RTG) confirms Peter Lauch will be stepping down as CEO July 10.
"It is with sincere gratitude to Peter that we announced today his plans to step down as CEO, effective 10 July 2020," a statement on RTG's website said. "Peter’s tireless dedication to the project and his forthright transparency with all stakeholders have been hallmarks of his tenure. It is with this sense of appreciation that the Board of RTG and its principal partners, ACS Infrastructure, Ellis-Don and SNC-Lavalin have reluctantly accepted Mr. Lauch’s decision."
Lauch accepted a leadership role at RTG in 2018 after spending five years as a senior project manager with the consortium overseeing the construction of the light rail project. In November 2019, two months after the line's official public launch, he became the CEO of RTG's maintenance branch, Rideau Transit Maintenance (RTM).
RTG says the City of Ottawa and OC Transpo are aware of Mr. Lauch's impending departure and a transition plan will be announced soon.
“When I accepted the challenge to head up RTG, my primary objective was to oversee the transition into revenue service. The RTM role was taken to quarterback the restructuring of Rideau Transit Maintenance. It was always my intention to stay on for the time necessary to complete those undertakings,” said Lauch in a statement.
RTG is a consortium whose primary partners are ACS Infrastructure Canada, EllisDon, and SNC-Lavalin.
Problems on Confederation Line continue
The news comes as the Confederation Line remains closed for extensive maintenance and testing for at least a week, as the City of Ottawa pushes RTG/RTM to fix long-standing issues that have plagued the nine-month-old LRT line.
The system has been troubled since shortly after its September 2019 launch with problems with its passenger car doors, brakes, wheel flats, on-board computer systems, and overhead power systems. The switch heaters seize up in the cold, and the trains are forced to slow down in the heat.
The City issued a notice of default to RTG in March, giving them a three-week deadline to deliver a plan to solve the issues. The plan that was delivered at the end of March was deemed unsatisfactory.
An updated plan delivered to the city in April was found to be lacking in specific timelines, but suggested some of the solutions to the issues would take until the end of 2020 to fix.
Transportation Services General Manager John Manconi demanded the problems be solved by the end of August. In order to accomplish that goal, the City and RTG would take advantage of the low ridership caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to periodically close the entire line to give RTG enough time and access to perform the necessary fixes.
Speaking at the June 17 transit commission meeting, Manconi said he was doubtful RTG would be up to the task of solving the major issues that have troubled the line since shortly after its launch in September 2019.
"We are not confident that they are tracking to the end of August, that's because they have not confirmed to us in writing that they can achieve that date," he said.
This week's closure was intended to only be a full closure on Sunday, with a partial closure from Monday to Wednesday, but late Sunday afternoon the City confirmed the line would be fully closed until the end of the week and possibly longer.