Transit Commission boss wants to cancel LRT contract as Confederation Line struggles in the snow
OTTAWA -- As the Confederation Line operates at reduced capacity during this heavy snowstorm, the chair of the city’s transit commission suggests it may be time to kick Rideau Transit Maintenance off of the train.
Coun. Allan Hubley told CFRA’s The Morning Rush with Bill Carroll that he’s been in communication with the city manager and the mayor’s office about exploring options to fix the five-month-old system.
“We’re going to have to sit down and look at what can we do to bring in another company to do the job that RTM clearly can’t do,” Hubley said Thursday morning.
Nine trains were launched for the morning peak period, but two immobilized trains caused issues at Rideau and Tremblay stations during the morning commute.
“I’m out of patience with RTM on this contract and I think it’s time that we have to look at what are our avenues here to get somebody in here that will do what they say they’re going to do for us and get the trains running on a consistent and reliable basis,” said Hubley.
The councillor says staff will look at the possible legal steps required to cancel the 30 year contract with Rideau Transit Group and Rideau Transit Maintenance.
Speaking to reporters late Thursday morning, Transportation Services General Manager John Manconi told reporters Rideau Transit Group must hold Alstom accountable to fix the issues with the trains.
“What the city is doing, and will continue to do and is going to do more, is to hold RTG accountable to the service our customers deserve,” Manconi said.
Rideau Transit Group's Peter Lauch defended the Alstom Citadis Spirit trains to reporters.
"We have an obligation under the project agreement to provide service. We think we can provide service with these vehicles. They will be, and they are, good vehicles.”
Lauch says the modifications put in place have addressed some of the issues with the Confederation Line.
Earlier in the day, Hubley told CTV Morning Live that the problems come down to RTG and RTM “not being ready for what we’ve asked them to do.”
Just before 6:20 a.m., OC Transpo reported an immobilized train at Rideau station, forcing trains to operate on only the westbound platforms between Rideau and Lyon stations.
Manconi said the immobilized trains were due to vehicle power issues, but provided no other details. Both immobilized trains were removed from the rail line just after 8 a.m.
“Basically, this comes down to once again RTG/RTM not being ready for what we’ve asked them to do,” Hubley said on CTV Morning Live.
The councillor added the train shortage is the fallout from the issues with the Confederation Line on Wednesday night.
A loose component on the overhead catenary system shut down the rail line between Hurdman and Blair stations for several hours. A train stalled at the uOttawa station due to an arcing issue.
“It’s the fallout from that, that they couldn’t get the trains ready to come back up last night. But it all goes back to the root problem with the wire and everything, these are things that they knew about, that they were supposed to do, and they didn’t get done,” Hubley said.
The councillor says Rideau Transit Group had promised to have 10 to 12 trains ready for the morning peak period, “they’re not even getting anywhere close to that.”
OC Transpo staff are working with Rideau Transit Group to get the system back up to normal. Hubley says staff are also looking to see if additional buses are needed to support service along the Confederation Line.
The issues are the latest in a long list of issues with the Confederation Line that has prompted at least one Councillor and a Citizen Transit Commissioner to call on the City of Ottawa to explore ripping up the 30 year maintenance contract with Rideau Transit Group.
“We just got to get pressure on these guys to do the job that they’re supposed to do. I’m hoping their shareholders are getting hungry for some payments, and will put some pressure on them as well,” Hubley said of the shareholders for Rideau Transit Group/Rideau Transit Maintenance.
“I’d be more than happy if we could issue a payment to these guys for getting the job well done, but they’re not doing that, they’re not close.”