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3 Transitway stations closing on Mar. 31 for bus-to-LRT test at Tunney’s Pasture

An OC Transpo bus drives down the street in this photo taken with a tilt shift lens in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011 . Brent Lewin / Bloomberg via Getty Images

OC Transpo is closing three stations along Ottawa’s Transitway for nine hours on Sunday, Mar. 31 so it can simulate how riders will transfers from buses to the LRT system at Tunney’s Pasture station once the Confederation Line is live.

Dominion, Westboro and Tunney’s Pasture stations will be closed to riders from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to OC Transpo. Detours will be in place for some bus routes and bus stops during that period, read a statement from the city, attributed to Pat Scrimgeour, director of transit customer systems and planning.

WATCH (Mar. 4, 2019): Ottawa city councillors, staff invited to experience LRT simulator
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Ottawa city councillors, staff invited to experience LRT simulator – Mar 4, 2019

Scrimgeour said shuttles running approximately every 10 minutes will pick up passengers at certain transit stops and take them to “alternate station locations on Wellington Street and Richmond Road.”

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OC Transpo staff will be stationed along the detour route to help riders, and more information will be posted on OC Transpo’s website, Scrimgeour wrote.

Once the thrice-delayed east-west LRT line is carrying passengers, Tunney’s Pasture — located about four kilometres west from Parliament Hill — will be one of three major transfer stations where riders will zip directly between bus service and the light-rail trains without having to pass through fare gates. Hurdman and Blair stations are the other two.

OC Transpo is rolling out stress tests at those three big connection points ahead of time to see how the stations and platforms handle the high volume and movement of people, according to OC Transpo general manager John Manconi. The dress rehearsals also serve as a “hands-on training exercise for staff,” he added.

“We also do ‘what if’ scenarios in terms of potential incidents and so forth to see how we respond,” Manconi said on Wednesday afternoon at city hall, after delivering a presentation to the transit commission on what the LRT’s launch will look like for riders.

READ MORE: Riding the LRT 101: What Ottawans need to know when the Confederation Line launches

The Tunney’s Pasture stress test was originally scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 24, but was postponed due to weather forecasts predicting freezing rain.

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About 200 staff and 80 buses — but no trains — will be involved in next Sunday’s exercise and they will simulate their anticipated activities and routes through the station, OC Transpo officials told the transit commission on Wednesday. The practice runs are recorded using monitors, cameras, stop-watches and note-takers and are later analyzed, they said.

The day-long exercise is expected to test these mock scenarios:

  • Normal morning rush-hour operations;
  • Morning rush-hour operations if there’s a broken-down bus in the station;
  • Normal afternoon operations;
  • Normal afternoon operations if there’s a broken-down bus; and,
  • Operations in the event Tunney’s Pasture station has to close.

READ MORE: City of Ottawa taps SNC-Lavalin, international consortium to build LRT extensions; price tag rises by $1.2B

Hurdman Station already passed its stress test, which took place on Oct. 28, 2018.

“It exceeded our expectations,” Manconi said. “It worked not only as a design, but … multiple scenarios were done and it worked very very well.”

OC Transpo will set a date for the exercise at Blair Station after Sunday’s test at Tunney’s Pasture, Scrimgeour said on Thursday.

A map of Hurdman transit station in Ottawa, once the LRT line opens. Passengers arriving at the four major transfer stations, including Hurdman, will be dropped off in a fare-paid zone, so they can walk directly to the LRT or bus platform without have to tap their Presto card again or show proof of payment. City of Ottawa

Testing, commissioning of trains ‘progressing well’, OC Transpo boss says

Mar. 31, 2019 was supposed to the day the consortium building the $2.1-billion Confederation Line would have the system finished and delivered to the City of Ottawa.

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But councillors and Ottawans learned on Mar. 5 that was not to be, for the third time.

READ MORE: Handover of Ottawa’s Confederation LRT line delayed for a third time

As of that day, 24 of the LRT fleet’s 34 train cars had been fully certified for use. While those trains can and are being tested on the tracks, according to OC Transpo, the Rideau Transit Group (RTG) cannot begin a lengthy, end-to-end trial run of the entire system without the rest. OC Transpo needs 30 train cars, travelling in sets of two, running on the LRT line during peak hours.

Manconi says his department won’t accept the Confederation Line until the system runs “flawlessly” for 12 days in a row for that trial run; there are other “critical” contractual requirements that still need to be completed as well.

The OC Transpo boss said this week that the testing and commissioning of the LRT trains is “going very, very well.” Twenty train cars were out on the line on Wednesday, he said, while 19 were out last week and were “doing what they were supposed to do” throughout the wet snowfall on Mar. 10.

READ MORE: OC Transpo insists 2019 transit budget built to handle uncertainty over LRT handover

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RTG is now expected to hand over the Confederation Line sometime between early April and the end of June, but a new handover date has not yet been announced.

Manconi on Wednesday refused to comment on a new deadline.

Ottawa city council approved the contracts and funding for Stage 2 LRT on Mar. 6.

WATCH (May 2, 2018): Sneak peek of the Ottawa LRT
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Sneak peek of the Ottawa LRT – May 2, 2018

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