Ottawa

More backup buses coming to ease LRT woes

OC Transpo will place 20 new buses on permanent standby to help shuttle passengers during LRT shutdowns, the city's transit commission heard Wednesday.

20 buses originally expected next spring will instead arrive next month

The 20 new buses, expected to arrive next month, will be on kept on standby to help shuttle LRT passengers during Confederation Line shutdowns. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

OC Transpo will place 20 new buses on permanent standby to help shuttle passengers during LRT shutdowns, the city's transit commission heard Wednesday.

The Nova buses were due to be delivered in the spring and used for detours during Stage 2 light rail construction, but will now arrive in December.

The new buses will be kept outside the city's baseball stadium on Coventry Road, where they'll stand ready to serve as replacements during Confederation Line stoppages.

That will mean OC Transpo will no longer have to redirect buses from other routes, transportation general manager John Manconi told commissioners during yet another update on the problem-plagued transit system.

"The benefit we all get out of this is that we don't have to bleed off of your existing routes," Manconi said.

Council had directed staff to explore all options, calling the frequent delays and unreliable service "unacceptable."

John Manconi, OC Transpo general manager, says 20 new buses will be on permanent standby to help move passengers during LRT shutdowns, bringing the total number of additional buses to 79.  0:48

Those 20 buses are in addition to the 40 older buses brought back into service since the Confederation Line's launch last month, as well as 19 new buses previously announced, bringing the total to 79 additional buses.

Expect more weld breaks

As for the Confederation Line itself, there have been fewer on-board computer resets and door problems, director of transit operations Troy Charter told the commission during Wednesday's update.

Charter also clarified that two welds broke on the Confederation Line track last Wednesday, not just one. The breaks were about 2.5 centimetres in width and about 300 metres apart, he said.

Such cracks are common when temperatures swing quickly, but aren't a safety concern, staff reassured the commission.

"This occurs. This will occur again. And get ready in the spring, when the frost comes out, we'll have what's called 'track heave' that occurs already on your Trillium Line," Manconi said.

Budget 'not at risk'

The transit commission then tackled the 2020 draft budget, which was expected to be under pressure because of OC Transpo's problems.

Hubley told CBC's Ottawa Morning last week the city will need to "beg, borrow and steal" from other departments to help the flailing transit system.

But Manconi said Wednesday he wanted to "clear up confusion" and reassured commissioners the budget is "not at risk".

Coun. Allan Hubley, chair of the transportation commission, previously said the city might need to dip into other departments' budgets to fix the LRT mess. On Wednesday, Manconi reassured commissioners that won't be necessary. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

"We are not going to be tapping into any of those budget line items to do any of the mitigation measures that we are talking about. We do not have to go into other departmental areas and mine out funds," Manconi said.

Instead, he said the city would charge Confederation Line builder Rideau Transit Group (RTG) for the fixes.

Manconi's latest remarks come two weeks after he and his boss, city manager Steve Kanellakos, blamed most of the transit woes on RTG.

About the Author

Kate Porter

Reporter

Kate Porter covers municipal affairs for CBC Ottawa. Over the past 15 years, she has also produced in-depth reports for radio, web and TV, regularly presented the radio news, and covered the arts beat.

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