Ottawa city council approves free transit in December if LRT is back

With no end in sight of the Confederation Line shutdown, council voted in favour of free transit in December — assuming the train is running by then — and heard there is no estimate for when the LRT will be back in service.

No date set for return of Confederation Line, which has been shut down for 4 weeks

A sign reads 'Fix the LRT' on the steps of Ottawa City Hall during a rally against the city's decisions around its light rail system, which has been out of commission since Sept. 19. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

With no end in sight of the Confederation Line shutdown, Ottawa city council voted in favour of free transit in December — assuming the train is running by then — and heard there is no estimate for when the light rail system will return to service.

The council meeting was still going strong late Wednesday afternoon after more than six hours as councillors continued their heated debate about whether to have a judicial inquiry about the city's problem-plagued LRT system.

Earlier in the meeting, councillors voted 17 to 6 in favour of Coun. Allan Hubley's motion to provide transit free of charge in December. Councillors who dissented included: Rick Chiarelli, Diane Deans, Mathieu Fleury, Jeff Leiper, Catherine McKenney and Carol Anne Meehan.

Hubley called the month of free transit, which will cost the city about $7.2 million, a "gesture" to riders who've suffered due to the troubled light rail line.

Leiper said he couldn't support the move because "there is no price" council could put on the "stress and the time that the LRT failures have cost the residents of Ottawa," and removing transit fare wouldn't make up for all the problems.

Caution tape is strung up next to the site of an LRT train derailment on Ottawa's Confederation Line on Sept. 19. No one was injured when the train left the tracks. (Nicholas Cleroux/Radio-Canada)

No estimate for reopening of LRT line

City manager Steve Kanellakos also gave an update on the Confederation Line, which is currently in its fourth week of closure. Kanellakos said Rideau Transit Maintenance (RTM) is expected to finish repairing the rail and other infrastructure damaged during the Sept. 19 derailment, but the city still doesn't have a return-to-service plan from RTM. 

Even when the plan does arrive, it will need to be reviewed by independent consultants TRA Inc. and the city's own officials.

WATCH | City manager says no set date for LRT return:

Still no date for LRT reopening, city manager says

1 year ago
Duration 2:06
City manager Steve Kanellakos says officials are waiting on Rideau Transit Maintenance, the group in charge of maintaining the LRT system, to provide a return-to-service plan, which will then have to be reviewed by independent consultants hired by the city.

RTM has also told the city manager the cause of the derailment was a loose gear box, he said. CBC reported that on Sept. 21

Kanellakos says he was told the bolts that secured the gear box were not properly tightened "or verified," which led the gear box to become dislodged and drag along the track and ultimately led to "the derailment of the wheel of the train."

The city previously confirmed the train that derailed on Sept. 19 also required an axle bearing repair following the Aug. 8 derailment.


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