OC Transpo delays worsened by surprise call to send public servants home
GM John Manconi says early send-off could have made difference in Tuesday's major delays
OC Transpo's general manager says storm-related delays across the city's bus network were partially caused by the federal government's decision to let public servants off early without warning.
Some bus riders reported waiting hours for their buses during a record-breaking snowfall on Tuesday, with large crowds spotted at downtown stations.
At Wednesday's City of Ottawa transit commission meeting, John Manconi said the federal government's decision to let thousands of public servants off around 1 p.m. could have been managed better if OC Transpo had been warned as they usually are.
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'Problematic for us'
"I don't know what happened yesterday but I know [a co-worker] came into my office and threw out a tweet [saying] the federal government was letting their staff go early. This was problematic for us."
Manconi said they could have started bringing express routes in earlier than their usual start time around 3:30 p.m. if they had known, along with preparing messaging to let people know the best way to get where they were going.
"Our corporate emergency group is going to reach out to them and talk about if this occurs again, can they just do what they've typically done in the past: pick up the phone, connect with us and work as great partners, as we are," he said.
In a written response, the Treasury Board Secretariat said "the decision to allow employees to leave for home early is not taken lightly and is the responsibility of each department."
"The Treasury Board Secretariat does not notify other agencies when it allows its own employees to leave early... however, in emergency situations, such as government-wide lockdowns, and shut downs involving multiple departments, the government works with other agencies, such as the Ottawa Police and RCMP, to co-ordinate efforts," the Treasury Board said in its statement.
Buses stayed running
Manconi pointed out that despite 51.2 centimetres of snow falling Tuesday, the buses kept running with no major accidents.
Transportation committee chair Keith Egli, the councillor for Knoxdale-Merivale, said people have been pretty patient during the cleanup from this "monster storm."
"We had more than a quarter of all the snow in one day yesterday than we had all last winter. We had almost 52 centimetres [and] we had less than 200 centimetres of snow all of last winter," he said.
"It was a huge storm, it snowed for 16 hours straight then the winds kicked up after that. So I think under the circumstances both OC Transpo and our public works people did a very admirable job."
OC Transpo says delays of 10 to 20 minutes can be expected on many routes Wednesday because of the road conditions.