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'Quite pleased': Ottawa LRT weathers record snowstorm

As city roads were blanketed in snow that was falling so fast plows couldn't keep up, Ottawa's light rail transit line was chugging along.

OC Transpo did not report any significant issues on the Confederation Line LRT on Monday, despite the city receiving 48 cm of snow, including 12 cm in a single hour between 8 and 9 a.m.

Speaking on the CTV News at Noon on Tuesday, Troy Charter, the city of Ottawa's director of transit operations, said OC Transpo was happy with the performance of the train.

"We're quite pleased with the service we were able to provide yesterday," he said. "That rapid snowfall and that rapid accumulation that affected the roads and all motorists alike, you know, the rail line ran smoothly and ran reliably throughout the day and throughout the entire event, so we're very pleased with what happened yesterday."

Trains on the Confederation Line sometimes struggled during the first winter it was in operation. In early 2020, there were several issues with the line that stopped trains or caused switch heaters to fail. Work during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, as ridership dropped, allowed teams from Rideau Transit Maintenance to address the problems.

Charter said the city was prepared for Monday's monster storm.

"It starts with making sure you have extra resources," he explained. "You're pre-salting platforms, you're clearing out as much of the existing snow on the guideway where the trains operate, you do all these things in advance of the snowstorm and then you've got to react and respond and be very proactive throughout the event and we did that."

Charter said that although 2021 ended on a low note, Monday's service is a positive sign heading into 2022.

"We ended last year talking about the derailments, but last winter the rail line did run very well through most weather events too," he said. "I'm not surprised that it ran as well as it did, and that's the expectation that it will run reliably in all weather conditions, and it did yesterday. A real positive sign for everyone."

Transit service was free in December because of two derailments within six weeks of each other during the summer, including one that kept service on the LRT offline for nearly two full months. The derailments prompted city council to request an auditor general's probe into the system, which was paused following the Ontario government's decision to launch a public inquiry.

Charter admits that ridership on the LRT was low Monday, as most people remained home during the storm. He said it was too soon to estimate whether ridership would return to pre-pandemic levels this year. Ridership has been significantly below 2019 levels since March of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

Service on the bus system was stymied by the snow Monday, with reports of several stuck buses. Charter said things are now moving much more smoothly.

"Yesterday was a challenging day for all motorists, it was a challenging day for the buses but we're faring much better today," he said. Top Stories

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