Ottawa

December was the best month for LRT, data shows

Although December ended with a chaotic New Year's Eve, the final month of 2019 was actually the best so far for Ottawa's struggling light rail line.

Despite New Year’s Eve snafus, trains ran for 18 days last month with no issues

A light rail train approaches Tunney's Pasture station on Nov. 12, 2019. While November saw the fewest days with absolutely zero problems on Ottawa's new Confederation line, things improved significantly in December. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

Although December ended with a chaotic New Year's Eve for some LRT riders, the final month of 2019 was actually the best so far for Ottawa's struggling light rail line.

There were 18 separate issues over 13 days last month that threw off the Confederation Line's schedule, leaving 18 days when the line worked just fine. 

That data comes from tweets issued by OC Transpo about trains running behind schedule, or from incidents that CBC reporters noticed and independently confirmed.

December's issues lasted anywhere from 10 minutes to six hours. Twice last month, the line operated for four straight days without problems.

By comparison, in October, 22 delays happened over 17 days, leaving only 14 days of smooth sailing. November was the LRT system's worst month by far, with 28 issues occurring over 22 days, and only eight days where the trains ran on time. 

NYE surprise

While December was marginally better than previous months, the Confederation Line — which opened to the public in mid-September — had its own surprise planned to help Ottawans ring in the new year.

Between Dec. 23 and Dec. 31, nine issues cropped up over eight days, including the LRT's longest delay yet: a six-hour shutdown on New Year's Eve. 

According to OC Transpo, two trains lost power Tuesday night, forcing the city to ferry passengers between certain LRT stations on buses. The first train lost power at approximately 5 p.m., and full service wasn't restored until almost midnight.

That's the longest schedule disruption we've ever seen on the Confederation Line.

On Thursday, officials laid the blame on a buildup of dirt and grit on the trains' roofs, which caused problems with how they connected to the electrical grid.

After years of planning and construction, the LRT launched on Sept. 14. And while the Confederation Line hasn't run as smoothly as the city hoped, Friday will mark two months since any delays occurred on the well-established Trillium Line, which runs between Greenboro and Bayview stations.

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