Ottawa

Watson pledges cash to help relieve transit woes

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says there will be money set aside in next week's draft budget to help alleviate some of the problems plaguing the city's transit system.

Money for 'enhanced bus service' will be in next week's budget, mayor says

Mayor Jim Watson says the city will be setting aside money in the upcoming budget for improving OC Transpo's bus service.  0:39

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says there will be money set aside in next week's draft budget to help alleviate some of the problems plaguing the city's transit system.

Acknowledging "there's a very high level of frustration" with the ongoing service disruptions and delays, Watson told reporters help is on the way.

"We'll be announcing extra funds in the budget next week for enhanced bus service to solve a lot of the problems," he said Wednesday.

Since Oct. 6, when dozens of OC Transpo bus routes were phased out, the Confederation Line has been beset with jammed doors, computer failures and other malfunctions that have stopped trains in their tracks and caused headaches for commuters.

At the same time, the reduced bus service has resulted in overcrowding and confusion for passengers, many of whom have complained the system is inadequate.

Commuters mill about outside Tunney's Pasture station during a major LRT delay on Oct. 9, 2019. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Watson said he recently summoned senior officials from Confederation Line builder Rideau Transit Group (RTG) to his board room to seek solutions to the ongoing problems.

"We're not satisfied. We need to get these problems resolved, and we need to get the bus issue resolved," Watson said he told them.

On Wednesday, he said the city could withhold payments from RTG until the issues are resolved, but he didn't specify how much is still owed, or under what specific conditions the city might do that.

Despite the disruptions, Watson noted that for the most part, the trains are on time and running smoothly. 

"But when you have, you know, 10 per cent or 20 per cent of the people having a bad experience, you hear loud and clear from them. And we've got to do better."

The 2020 draft budget will be tabled Nov. 6.

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