Ottawa

Still no date for LRT fix, councillors told

More than two months after the city put LRT builders Rideau Transit Group (RTG) on notice of default, the consortium has refused to provide a date for when the Confederation Line will finally be made reliable.

Transit boss demanded builder make system reliable by end of summer, but hasn't heard back

Rideau Transit Group is working to fix the beleaguered Confederation Line, but it still hasn't provided a date when the $2.1-billion system might finally be made reliable. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

More than two months after the city put LRT builders Rideau Transit Group (RTG) on notice of default, the consortium has refused to provide a date for when the Confederation Line will finally be made reliable.

While RTG has responded with plans to address the numerous complaints about both the $2.1-billion light rail line and the Alstom trains that run on it, it still can't say when the fixes will be done.

"What they have said verbally, when pressed for a date, is the end of the year and … that is not acceptable," the city's general manager of transportation, John Manconi, told council Wednesday afternoon. "We cannot have our community waiting till the end of the year for consistent, reliable service."

Manconi said the city has specifically asked RTG to fix the system by the end of August. "We have not heard back from them."

The OC Transpo boss told council the good news is that the city is confident there are "no major design flaws" with the track and the overhead power catenary systems. Instead, the issues appear to be maintenance-related, which should be easier to fix.

However, Manconi has lingering concerns about the trains themselves, the Alstom Citadis Spirit. Many problems including faulty brakes, doors, traction power, and heating and cooling systems are related directly to the vehicles, not the LRT infrastructure.

John Manconi, OC Transpo general manager, said Rideau Transit Group has not been able to provide an acceptable date for when the Confederation Line will be reliable and consistent. 0:39

While Manconi said no one has "seen anything that's not fixable," the train maker, which reports directly to RTG and not to the city, seems to be making little headway on these issues.

"To be blunt and candid, the continued concern is about the vehicles," Manconi told councillors.  

Special meeting June 1

RTG has already shut down the Confederation Line seven days this month for repairs to the system, and there are further shutdowns planned for the summer.  

OC Transpo needs as many trains and buses as possible available in the coming months, so that passengers can keep their physical distance when pandemic-related restrictions begin to be lifted.

To that end, the city has accepted two additional double-car Alstom trains that it had purchased for LRT Stage 2. 

Manconi is expected to give a detailed plan for how OC Transpo will operate in the new COVID-19 reality at a special transit commission meeting that Coun. Allan Hubley has called for June 1. 

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