Ottawa

'It's a disaster': Jammed doors hold up LRT for 2nd straight morning

For the second morning in a row, jammed doors on LRT trains caused long delays and crowded platforms up and down the Confederation Line, with some fed up passengers finishing their journey on foot.

City pledges to look at door sensors to prevent another chaotic commute

Crowds stranded at Tunney's Pasture on Oct. 9, 2019. (@warby/Twitter)

For the second morning in a row, jammed doors on LRT trains caused long delays and crowded platforms up and down the Confederation Line, with some fed up passengers finishing their journey on foot.

A train door became stuck at Lyon station at about 8 a.m. after a passenger running for the train tried to pry the doors open, causing delays that lasted until about 9:30 a.m. Shortly after the Lyon station incident, a rider at Parliament station caused a second jam by holding the train doors open with both hands.

Once again, the domino effect meant passengers who continued to pile off buses crammed platforms, escalators and concourses, especially at the line's end points.

It was practically a repeat of Tuesday morning's commute, only according to some passengers, worse.

Many riders opted to walk the 3.5 kilometres from Tunney's Pasture station to their offices downtown, including Rob Laflèche.

"It's a disaster," Laflèche said. "There was no place to come out. There were hundreds and hundreds of people inside [the station], and you can't do anything."

OC Transpo ran R1 replacement buses between Tunney's Pasture and Rideau stations until about 9:20 a.m.

Lane Bourbonniere and Austin Tarin were among the throng of frustrated passengers who elected to hail a cab or summon an Uber to finish their trip.

"It's a little frustrating because we wake up early to get to work assuming that OC Transpo is going to be reliable, and it's been showing that it's not," Bourbonniere said.

This is ridiculous. All I can do is laugh.- Austin Tarin, passenger

"It's comical at this point," Tarin added. "It's day three and this happens already a second time? This is ridiculous. All I can do is laugh."

Tarin also had a message for OC Transpo and the city's general manager of transportation services, John Manconi.

"You rushed it. Fix the stuff or bring buses back at least until the next stage is complete. You can't be doing this in the first weeks."

Commuters on the LRT faced long delays for the second day in a row, leading many to find other ways to finish their commute downtown.  1:29

Changes coming

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Manconi announced a number of steps would be taken to address the door issues, including reassessing "dwell times" — the length of time the doors remain open for boarding at LRT stations.

Manconi said the doors have safety sensors that lock the door in an "open state" once they try unsuccessfully to close three times or if a rider tries to hold them open. He said train manufacturer Alstom would check the entire fleet to make sure those were properly calibrated and not too sensitive.

OC Transpo general manager John Manconi said two door-holding incidents caused major delays. The transit agency will be taking measures to prevent further door issues, he said.  1:10

He also said "well-intentioned technicians" were trying to repair the doors after they were stuck open. In the future, passengers would instead be told to leave the train and the train would be taken out of service before those repairs are undertaken, Manconi said.

There will also be more OC Transpo employees reminding riders how to use the trains, as well as more station announcements about proper LRT behaviour, Manconi said. OC Transpo will also be installing markings on the station platforms, he added, indicating where people should wait for the trains.

Mayor Jim Watson said the city would be looking at introducing a fine for people caught prying open the doors of trains on the Confederation Line.  0:35

Not blaming customers: Manconi

"I want to be crystal clear: we are not blaming or criticizing our customers," Manconi said. "We are all adapting to the Confederation Line system and our goal is to help everyone through the process."

By 9:15 a.m. Line 1 had resumed full service, but OC Transpo anticipated delays would continue for some time.

On Tuesday a passenger held a door open at uOttawa station and broke it, taking more than an hour for train travel to return to normal as the problem train was removed.

When asked about door issues on Friday, before the three week transition period with parallel bus service ended, the city said doors were working properly 80,000 times a day and incidents happened "a very small percentage" of the time.

With files from Trevor Pritchard

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