City of Ottawa now has control of Confederation LRT line: memo

Click to play video: 'Politicians, media ride LRT trains ahead of Confederation Line’s handover to city'
Politicians, media ride LRT trains ahead of Confederation Line’s handover to city
Before the City of Ottawa announced the official launch date of the Confederation Line, local, provincial and federal politicians, city staff and the media were invited to ride the light-rail train end-to-end on Friday afternoon – Aug 23, 2019

The long-awaited, long-delayed Confederation Line has officially been handed over to the City of Ottawa, according to a memo addressed to the mayor and members of council on Tuesday.

The news comes more than 15 months after the Rideau Transit Group (RTG) was originally due to deliver the $2.1-billion east-west LRT system – and about a week and a half before the Confederation Line will officially open to riders on September 14.

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When the LRT’s launch date was announced on August 23, the CEO of RTG symbolically handed over the train by presenting a framed key to Mayor Jim Watson, but the city actually didn’t have full control of the LRT system at that point.

Final documentation still needed to be submitted and reviewed to verify that the system is ready for public use, city staff said at the time, adding that they expected that process to be finished by the end of the following week.

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The memo to council on Tuesday, signed by OC Transpo boss John Manconi, said RTG submitted its notice for “revenue service availability” on August 30, which included confirmation from the city’s independent safety auditor that “compliance with safety requirements for the RSA milestone has been met.”

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The city’s independent certifier then reviewed the notice and the city’s opinion about it over the weekend and “certified that the requirements for the Revenue Service Availability milestone were achieved as of August 30,” Manconi wrote.

Manconi said any remaining work on the Confederation Line “will be tracked as minor deficiencies for completion within six months” but didn’t offer details about the nature of any outstanding work.

“A further follow up on procedures and documentation will be completed by the [independent safety auditor] as the final step in their safety verification just prior to public service,” he said.
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Final payment to RTG

The city’s takeover of the Confederation Line triggers a final payment of about $202 million – plus HST – from the city to RTG.

However, the city had previously stated it planned to deduct about $32 million for costs related to the LRT’s delay and another $4 million in penalties for missing four previous handover dates: May 24, 2018, Nov. 2, 2018, Mar. 31, 2019 and Aug. 16, 2019.

WATCH (Mar. 4, 2019): Ottawa city councillors, staff invited to experience LRT simulator
Click to play video: 'Ottawa city councillors, staff invited to experience LRT simulator'
Ottawa city councillors, staff invited to experience LRT simulator

Asked for an update on the payment, the city said late Tuesday that it intends to withhold at least $36 million from the consortium’s final cheque but is “in the process of reviewing the payment amounts based on the August 30, 2019 RSA date.”

In a statement emailed through the city’s media relations department, Michael Morgan, the city’s director of rail construction, confirmed the following amounts will be withheld from the final payment: $1 million for the missed August 16 handover date; approximately $35 million for extended bus operations, detours, lane closures, land rentals and other items; and “any additional hold backs for contractual [or] negotiated items.”
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Morgan said LRT milestone payments are issued five business days after a milestone is achieved and the sum of the final payment to RTG will be provided to city council members at the finance and economic development committee’s next meeting on Sept. 10, 2019.

The LRT is expected to open to commuters at 2 p.m. on September 14, which is a Saturday.

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At an event at city hall on Tuesday, Watson told reporters the new milestone is “one more step on the journey to September 14.”

I’ve been asked all weekend: ‘Are you sure it’s September 14?’ … We’re going to be ready or I’ll be run out of town on the rails I think,” the mayor joked.

In his memo, Manconi said the city’s priority “remains to provide Ottawa with a safe, reliable and world-class transit system and to protect the interests of Ottawa residents and transit users.”

“Staff continue to undertake the operational readiness activities required to ensure that the Confederation Line seamlessly integrates into the OC Transpo network prior to opening day, including additional city-led system practice, simulated system operations and staff training,” Manconi wrote.

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