OC Transpo blames LRT builder for issues as buses supplement train shortage

Riders on Ottawa’s problem-plagued light-rail system are having another rough morning, with OC Transpo saying only eight of the usual 13 trains on the line are in service Tuesday.

The city is blaming the company it hired to design, build and maintain the line: Rideau Transit Group – now called Rideau Transit Maintenance.

The past week has seen a series of incidents lead to delays for commuters on the Confederation Line. Parts of the line have been shut down by a snapped power cable at St. Laurent Station and switches weren’t working in the weekend’s snowstorm.

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Trains have also been taken out of service because the wheels, apparently, have flat spots.

OC Transpo apologized to riders for trains and platforms that were extra crowded, as well as longer-than-usual waits because an array of separate problems that kept more than half of its 17 trains off the tracks during the morning commute.

The system will be two trains short during mid-day service, OC Transpo said, with only nine trains running of the usual 11 during the lull between rush hours, and wait times upped by a minute.

Ottawa’s transit manager, John Maconi, said in a statement Monday afternoon that the city is pressuring RTM to “get the job done” and “live up to the standards expected by our transit customers.”

OC Transpo is now warning that platforms and trains will be extra crowded and waits will be extra long Tuesday because an array of separate problems is keeping more than half of its 17 trains off the tracks. The transit agency is dispatching buses to supplement service on the line during rush hour.

The agency says it’s billing the maintenance company for replacement buses, but there aren’t enough of those to keep up with the need.

The chair of the city’s transit commission told two morning talk shows that RTM has had problems completing maintenance work on the wheels.

Coun. Allan Hubley said in separate interviews aired Tuesday morning that the wheels have developed flat spots and need to be taken out of service.

The company has a 30-year maintenance contract with the city.

Sarah Wright-Gilbert, a citizen member of the transit commission, lamented on Twitter that OC Transpo and Rideau Transit Maintenance “need to step up their game,” writing “the trains lose power because they are dirty” and now “the trains break down because their wheels are no longer round.”

“If RTM isn’t performing their contractual obligations, then it’s time for them to go,” she tweeted.

– With files from OBJ staff

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