OC Transpo is putting more buses back on the roads to alleviate issues arising from the rocky rollout of Ottawa’s light-rail transit system.
Breakdowns and service slowdowns have become a regular reality for commuters since the LRT line launched in mid-September. Mayor Jim Watson and transit chair Allan Hubley released a joint statement Friday announcing an additional $3.5 million in spending to remedy LRT’s ongoing issues and increase bus service to supplement the Confederation Line.
The city is also holding Rideau Transit Group accountable for the recurring problems and will deduct $2.8 million from the construction consortium’s October payment, with promises of similar penalties to come if service doesn’t improve.
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Watson and Hubley said they were “as frustrated as our transit users with the poor performance of LRT and the unreliability of our bus system.” They said they met with senior city staff Friday morning to establish immediate solutions that could add “short-term stability” to the city’s transit network.
This includes putting 40 buses back on the road following the Oct. 6 changeover that saw more than 150 buses removed from service as the LRT line supplanted the majority of downtown transit routes and altered numerous routes elsewhere in the city. These buses will be put back into operation on routes facing “chronic issues” since the service change, such as route 39 in the east, 257 in the west and 75 in the south end.
In the new year, an additional 19 buses will be put into service. The city is working with ATU 279, the OC Transpo employees’ union, to ensure there are enough bus drivers available to fill the short-term demand.
On the LRT side, Watson and Hubley said they met with RTG and its maintenance group last Monday to discuss how to fix ongoing issues. OC Transpo head John Manconi will provide an update on initiatives to improve the reliability of the LRT line at the next transit commission meeting on Nov. 6.
Additional transit funding will also be announced next week at city council when the 2020 draft budget is tabled.