Ottawa

LRT ready to roll, transit boss reports

After an elaborate rehearsal and dozens of drills, the Confederation Line is ready for its launch on Saturday, the city says.

Rehearsals have gone without a hitch as system readies for Saturday's launch

An train exits the Confederation Line tunnel on Sept. 6, 2019. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

The Confederation Line is ready for its launch on Saturday, the city says.

The system has undergone dozens of drills, including a full dress rehearsal last weekend involving hundreds of city employees and their families. It tested not just the readiness of the system, but also simulated various emergency scenarios such as a lost child.

"The rehearsal went really well," transportation manager John Manconi told city councillors on the finance committee Tuesday.

Manconi said getting feedback from "a fresh set of eyes" was invaluable.

Rail operators, paramedics, firefighters and others have conducted some 90 drills to simulate everything from a passenger causing a disturbance to coping with a biohazard to evacuating the train because of smoke.

"That's to ensure that we're ready for anything that comes our way," Manconi said.

LRT 'very impressive'

Representatives of groups including the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind and the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada have also toured the system to assess its accessibility.

Former city councillor Alex Cullen, who tested the system on behalf of the Council on Aging of Ottawa, gave it a glowing review.

"[Rideau] station itself is airy, is well lit, is dry," he told committee, likely referring to leaking in the tunnel during construction. "Very impressive, the art as well."

Cullen's only quibble was that the city is missing a marketing opportunity by not offering free rides on opening weekend.

The walkway to Blair station. The new LRT system opens to the public at 2 p.m. Saturday. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

OC Transpo chose months ago not to go that route because it didn't want to inundate the system and risk leaving first-time riders with a bad impression.

Instead, OC Transpo may offer free rides at some point within the first four to six weeks.

Lightning likely cause

Coun. Shawn Menard said residents at a public meeting Monday night told him they still fear the new system will be unreliable.

In particular, they're worried about last week's 10-hour shutdown, caused when radio transmitters were knocked out on the same night as a storm, Menard said.

"I can tell you that RTG believes very strongly that the lightning storm did have an impact," Manconi said. "We are zeroing in on the root cause."

Manconi noted Gatineau's Société de transport de l'Outaouais (STO) still needs to decide on when it will integrate its buses with the Confederation Line at Lyon station.

"I need to draw that out of them," Manconi told the committee.

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