Ottawa

LRT up and running in Ottawa

After years of planning, construction and multiple missed deadlines, Ottawa's $2.1-billion Confederation Line finally welcomed its first paying LRT riders Saturday afternoon.

Mayor, politicians took ceremonial ride before Confederation Line opened to public

People line up to enter Tunney's Pasture station on Sept. 14, 2019, the launch day for Ottawa's Confederation light rail line. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

The time has finally arrived, and so have the trains. 

After years of planning, construction and multiple missed deadlines, Ottawa's $2.1-billion Confederation Line finally welcomed its first paying LRT riders Saturday afternoon.

Before the public began pouring through the gates, however, Mayor Jim Watson was joined by representatives from the provincial and federal governments, as well as current — and former — members of council at Tunney's Pasture station for the official launch.

"The future of transit in Ottawa starts now," Watson said. "Today really is the result of years of planning and extremely hard work.

"I know that it hasn't always been easy for our residents during this construction period, and I want to take this opportunity to thank the people of Ottawa for your patience and understanding."

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, left, and Ontario Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney, in blue, push the 'power button' to mark launch day for the capital's new light rail line. (CBC)

'New train smell'

The 13-station line opened to the public at 2 p.m., when it began ferrying enthusiastic passengers from just west of the downtown core all the way out to Gloucester.

"It's really nice! The inside has this new train smell," said Enyonam Donkor, who'd successfully planned to be on board for the inaugural trip down the line.

"I'm enjoying the ride, so far."

Ashwath Param said he'd been waiting anxiously for the opening of LRT, as it would slash his hour-long commute to the University of Ottawa by 15 minutes.

"I have to try it out. I'm going to go sit at every station and check out the artwork — I've heard a lot about the artwork. I'm just really excited now," Param said.

For now, a single fare will cost $3.45 if riders use a Presto card and $3.50 if they buy a ticket from a fare machine. Fares go up Oct. 1.

People at Tunney's Pasture and Parliament stations gathered to ride the Confederation Line for the first time on Saturday. 1:46

Minor glitches

There were a few opening-day glitches, however, with some escalators at various LRT stations temporarily going offline throughout the day.

Troy Charter, the city's director of transit operations, said none of the breakdowns were major, and that they may have partially been caused by over-enthusiastic riders. 

"Some of the issues experienced today may be attributed to customers jumping or bouncing on them, as they are excited to ride the [Confederation Line] for the first time," Charter said in an email.

The City of Ottawa did not provide ridership numbers for the first day, saying those statistics would be released next week.

'A world-class transportation system'

Caroline Mulroney, Ontario's minister of transportation, also offered her congratulations Saturday to on the LRT system's debut.

"Ottawa residents deserve a world-class transportation system that gets both them and the economy moving," she said. "Today, that's exactly what they are getting."

In addition to contributing up to $600-million to the Confederation Line, the province has also committed $1.2 billion for the the second stage of Ottawa's LRT system.

During the inaugural ride, OC Transpo general manager John Manconi said he was "honoured" to be part of the project. 

"I'm happy for the city, residents, our employees, our staff and our customers — can't forget about them," he said. "They've been so patient, this is for them."

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