Transit riders don't want excuses — they want system that works: Manconi

OC Transpo boss John Manconi says Ottawa transit riders don't want apologies or excuses for what's gone wrong with the LRT service. What they want, he says, is reliable service.

OC Transpo boss defends his record: 'I continue to provide great service to this community'

John Manconi answers your LRT questions

2 years ago
Duration 4:05
OC Transpo general manager John Manconi responded to questions from riders on LRT delays, bus routes and restoring confidence in the system.  4:05

OC Transpo boss John Manconi says he knows what riders want most, and it isn't apologies, excuses or even an explanation of what has gone wrong with the light rail transit service since it launched.

What they want, he said, is reliable service. And OC Transpo is trying to give it to them, he said Thursday in an interview with Lucy van Oldenbarneveld on CBC News Ottawa at 6.

"We're doing the single most important thing right now that's taking care of our customers that have endured a tough start," said Manconi, the city's general manager of the transportation service.

OC Transpo announced Wednesday it will be placing 20 buses on permanent standby as a back up if there are other delays on the rail that require the R1 replacement bus route.

Manconi said service has improved in the last six days, following weeks of problems since the end of cross-town parallel bus service on Oct. 6, though on Thursday replacement bus service had to be activated during the afternoon rush hour commute between St-Laurent and Blair stations.

Issues have included train door malfunctions, cracked welds in the rail and persistent computer problems.

John Manconi, general manager of transportation services, said he wishes Chris Grover had talked to him before writing that letter. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Tests didn't reveal problematic issues, he says

Manconi said those issues didn't come up in the trials and tests before the system opened to the public in September.

"None of these errors showed up during that testing regime, which again to the customer right now, they don't care," Manconi said.

He said Rideau Transit Group, the consortium responsible for building and maintaining the LRT, wanted a more stringent standard for testing.

How do we fix the LRT? We asked OC Transpo's general manager

2 years ago
Duration 3:09
John Manconi says riders aren't looking for excuses or explanations amid frustration with the LRT. He says the transit agency is focusing on getting the system running reliably, including adding more replacement buses during rail shutdowns.  3:09

He said RTG would not have wanted the system to open the public with an error, since they are being penalized financially because the LRT is not meeting the service standard required in their contract.

The city has withheld millions of dollars in monthly payments to RTG since the LRT first launched in September.

Manconi said taxpayers would be protected if RTG disputed those withheld payments.

"It's not about agreeing. That's the way the contract is written. There are certain parameters, if they don't pass those parameters, and they clearly failed. We have the money, we have not paid them," said Manconi.

Manconi says computer issues that have plagued the LRT since the end of parallel bus service were not caught in pre-launch testing and trial runs. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

Providing 'great service,' Manconi says

According to Ontario's Sunshine List, Manconi was paid $285,000 last year.

When asked whether he'd still have his job if he'd managed a similar launch in the private sector, Manconi said he is providing "great service" to the community.

"If the interview is about whether or not John Manconi should stick around that's a discussion that you should have with the city manager. That's who I work for and I'm very very proud of everything that my team and I have done," Manconi said.

"I continue to provide great service to this community. My focus is about taking care of the customer."