Ottawa

'We've got to do better': Riders faced 9 hours of train delays last week

Immobilized trains, faulty doors, computer failures and track switch issues: the list of problems with the city's train service seems to be getting longer.

OC Transpo reported delays every day from Monday to Friday

There were delays reported on the Confederation and Trillium lines every workday last week — and that has one transit advocate worried people could forsake the train for their cars. (Christian Milette/Radio-Canada)

Immobilized trains, faulty doors, computer failures and track switch issues: the list of problems with the city's train service seems to be getting longer.

The City of Ottawa wasn't able to provide a list of all the service disruptions, but OC Transpo shared notices of incidents every weekday last week on its Twitter page. 

On Monday, unknown problems caused the shutdown of the Trillium Line for an hour in the morning and for about two hours in the afternoon. Riders were asked to use the bus.

On Tuesday morning, a "communication issue with the track switch" caused a shutdown on the Confederation Line between Blair and St-Laurent stations — and it took more than two hours for service to resume. 

On Wednesday, two separate incidents occurred.

First, an immobilized train at uOttawa station halted service on one track between Rideau and Hurdman stations.

Then, a faulty door at St-Laurent station caused delays.

On both Thursday and Friday, there were more delays caused by immobilized trains at Tremblay, Tunney's Pasture and Bayview stations.

Anne-Marie Roy says the LRT is 'missing the mark' and is concerned some riders could switch to driving if the situation doesn't improve. (Yasmine Mehdi/CBC)

Concerns growing among riders 

In all, there were nine hours of service disruptions last week on both rail lines. That has public transit advocate Anne-Marie Roy concerned people will end up taking their car instead of braving the network. 

"Not everyone can get away with getting to work late and telling your boss, 'Sorry, it was the LRT.' I think it's really important we have a reliable transit system," she said.

OC Transpo should discuss the issues with the Rideau Transit Group (RTG), the consortium that built the Confederation Line, Roy added.

"One of my big concerns is winter is coming," she said. "If we're having all of these issues right now, what is this going to look like when we have our first snowfall?" 

'Dreading winter'

Roy isn't the only one worried, however. 

"It's not reliable, it's not convenient, I bet you anything it's going to get stuck in the winter," said Jehanal Barakani, as she made her way out of Parliament station. 

"I'm still dreading winter with the train," added Shari Scott, another rider.

Rideau-Vanier councillor Mathieu Fleury calls the LRT delays 'unacceptable' and is urging OC Transpo to be more transparent about what's causing them. (Yasmine Mehdi/CBC )

'They have every right to be angry' 

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said Saturday he's expressed his frustration with John Manconi, general manager of OC Transpo.

Watson said that with "every new system, there are obviously new challenges." And while the "vast majority" of riders have had a positive experience, some commuters have had a tougher time, he said.

"They're angry, and they have every right to be angry. And we've got to do better," said Watson.

We want them to give us the confidence ... that this investment was worthwhile.- Mathieu Fleury



Watson said reprogramming work on the trains — which he expects will be complete by next Saturday — will make the doors less sensitive and should minimize delays.

The councillor for Rideau-Vanier, Mathieu Fleury, is also growing frustrated. 

Fleury said OC Transpo should be more forthcoming about "what they are going to do in the short term" to increase reliability . 

"We want them to give us the confidence ... that this investment was worthwhile," he said.  

OC Transpo should present its next LRT update on Nov. 6 at the city's transit commission meeting.

With files from Hillary Johnstone

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