Ottawa

Councillors' call for emergency transit meeting denied

A call by three Ottawa city councillors for an emergency meeting to deal with ongoing problems plaguing the city's transit system has been denied.

'We've been kept in the dark about the problems,' Coun. Carol Anne Meehan says

Councillors Riley Brockington, Carol Anne Meehan and Catherine McKenney say they've been kept in the dark about what's causing ongoing problems with the transit system, and what's being done to fix them. (Kimberley Molina/CBC)

A call by three Ottawa city councillors for an emergency meeting to deal with ongoing problems plaguing the city's transit system has been denied.

Councillors Carol Anne Meehan, Catherine McKenney and Riley Brockington demanded a special meeting of the city's transit commission ahead of its regularly scheduled meeting on Nov. 6, claiming they've been inundated with complaints and want answers now.

"We've been kept in the dark about the problems. We don't know what's being worked on. We don't really know the extent of the problems and we have no way to answer our constituents' complaints," Meehan said.

"We want to know what's going on so we can adequately address that." 

Councillors Riley Brockington, Catherine McKenney, and Carol Anne Meehan say they're hearing from frustrated residents who are struggling with packed trains, late buses and LRT delays. 1:15

Bumpy start

Since its full launch on Oct. 6, the city's new Confederation Line has been beset by technical problems that have caused routine breakdowns and cancellations, while corresponding changes to numerous OC Transpo routes have left some frustrated customers with inadequate service.

Last week, some passengers complained about dangerously slippery stairs at some LRT stations.

Meehan said the situation has gotten so bad some commuters are turning back to their own cars rather than risk an unreliable trip on public transit.

"We were promised that we were going to have a world-class system when the trains were launched, [but] just the opposite has happened," she said.

Crowded LRT platforms have become the new normal as trains have been delayed for a variety of reasons over the past few weeks. (@warby/Twitter)

'Working on solutions'

Meehan wrote a note to senior OC Transpo officials Sunday evening calling for the emergency meeting, but received a response early Monday afternoon from transit commission chair Allan Hubley denying the request.

Cancelled bus trips. Unexpected train delays. Those are examples of some of the recurring complaints that have driven some Ottawa city councillors to call for an emergency transit meeting. 8:57

In his response, Hubley wrote staff are "working on solutions" and will report back at the regular meeting next month.

"[The problems are] happening multiple times a day. People cannot rely on the LRT. You know, being able to get on the LRT, they can't rely on getting somewhere at the right time. They're nervous about the crowding, what's happening on the platforms," said McKenney, who sits on the transit commission.

"If I'm not receiving information, you know that residents are receiving even less."

Commuters wait for backup buses after yet another LRT delay. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Brockington, who's also a member of the commission, agreed people need answers about what's causing the problems, why, and what's being done to fix them. That includes chronically unreliable buses, he said.

"In order for the LRT system to be successful, the bus network has to be successful. If people can't get from their local communities to the LRT lines, LRT will not be successful."

Questions persist

McKenney also wants answers about what happened during the testing period over the summer before the Rideau Transit Group handed over the keys to the Confederation Line over to the city.

"I want to know, and I believe every resident, every transit rider has a right to know what happened in those 12 days. Were there delays? What were the delays about? Were these trains ready to run? We deserve those answers. We have to have them," McKenney said.

"I am really afraid right now that transit riders are losing faith in our system and they're going to abandon it. And that makes me very nervous."

Slippery when wet: The steps inside Parliament station, near the entrance at Queen and O'Connor streets. (Paul Jay/CBC)

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