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Confederation Line testimonies: Day 1 LRT riders’ hopes and reviews

Click to play video: 'Passengers take first ride on Ottawa’s LRT' Passengers take first ride on Ottawa’s LRT
Go along for the ride as passengers board trains for Ottawa's new Confederation Line LRT – Sep 14, 2019

Saturday marked the first day Ottawa commuters could hop on board the Confederation Line.

The long-awaited LRT system officially opened the station and train doors to passengers just before 2 p.m. on Sept. 14.

READ MORE: All systems go: Ottawa’s Confederation LRT Line opens to passengers

Global News Ottawa got several residents’ first impressions of the new O-Train – some before they rode the rails, and some after.

The interviews below have been edited and condensed for brevity and clarity.

‘It was pretty self-explanatory’: George Thorne

George Thorne, who lives in the Civic hospital area, said his experience getting a ticket for the LRT was “smooth” and the fare machines were “pretty self-explanatory.”. Beatrice Britneff / Global News

How was your experience with the ticket machines?

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“It was smooth. It was pretty self-explanatory. Everything worked just fine. So far, so good.

“I don’t commute on a daily basis but this is just kind of more an exploration. I have three younger kids and they’ll be using this quite a bit. (My) expectation would just be smooth, safe, timely and clean.

“(The delay) was kind of frustrating. … It took a long time but I guess I’d rather have it done correctly and late than then maybe started a little early if it wasn’t safe and ready.”

‘A step in the right direction’: Brenda Bush and Sally Plant

Ottawa residents Brenda Bush (left) and Sally Plant (right) rode the Confederation Line on its opening day. Bush said she felt ‘relief’ as she explored the stations and the trains. Beatrice Britneff / Global News

What were your observations or feelings about the system?

Brenda Bush: “Relief. It’s lovely. … It’s less work than a bus. It just feels more spacious.

“We haven’t been to all the stations of course, I’m going to have to just practice and figure out what all the different TWSIs (tactile walking surface indicators) mean and all of the wayfinding pathways. It’s great. You can just put your cane in and just go. It’s like the Vienna airport.

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“I could hear the announcements wonderfully in both languages. On the buses … if the bus is too loud, you can’t hear and then you have to ask the person beside you but this one, it was perfect.”

Sally Plant: It’s been good. There’s been some changes made and I think the signage maybe could be … more accessible with larger print. The Braille needs a little work on the signage, but it’s nice that they’re putting Braille. So it’s a step in the right direction.”

‘We’ve waited a while for this’: Dee Dava

Barrhaven resident Dee Dava (centre) rode Ottawa’s Confederation Line from Tunney’s Pasture to Rideau station with her family on the LRT system’s first day in operation. Beatrice Britneff / Global News

How was your experience?

“It’s great. We’re from Toronto … so it’s very familiar. We’ve waited a while for this.

“We live in Barrhaven now, so they need to bring it out there. Honestly, it’s not really going to benefit us that much … because we still have to bus to it.

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“(We’ll ride it) as much as we can, we will for sure.”

‘I have no problem getting around at all’: Gregory Soutar

On the LRT’s opening day, Sandy Hill resident Gregory Soutar boarded the Confederation Line at Lees Station, rode it to Blair Station in the east end and then back west to Tunney’s Pasture. Beatrice Britneff / Global News

How was your experience?

“(My ride was) very smooth… it was very fast, very relaxing. I enjoyed it. And good scenery out the windows.

“They have a lot of wheelchair sections for me, which is good because the regular bus only has sections at the front but this is throughout the whole train.

“Stations are good, they have elevators at every station. I have no problem getting around at all.

“I think everybody should try it … at least once.”

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‘Crowded … but enough room for the stroller’: Graham Thomas

Graham Thomas (left) and his family boarded the new Confederation Line at Bayview Station, rode it to Blair and hopped off at Rideau Station downtown. “It was easy at Bayview to get in with the stroller,” he said. Beatrice Britneff / Global News

What were your observations or feelings about the system?

“Pretty smooth, it went pretty well until we saw an older man get trapped in the doors.

“Somebody helped me get in. My card wasn’t working for some reason … so, very helpful.

“Even on the first day it’s pretty crowded but there is enough room for the stroller. It was easy at Bayview to get in with the stroller.”

‘I’m here to see if it’s faster’: James Casselman and Sherley Bien-Aimé

James Casselman (left) and Shirley Bien-Aimé (right) came into Tunney’s Pasture station within the first half-hour of the Confederation Line’s opening. They said they hope the LRT will make their commute faster and more efficient. Beatrice Britneff / Global News

Sherley Bien-Aimé: “I’ve been riding public transit my whole life, so I kind of wanted to see if this would compare to other cities like Toronto and Montreal. But so far it looks really nice and kind of cool, and kind of what I expected.

“(I’m looking) to see if it’s as efficient as how the buses work because with the buses I’m able to go wherever I need to go.

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“I just kind of wanted to see how it would work out for downtown, especially since my parents live on the east end, it might make it easier for me to get to them – if anything, maybe faster hopefully. But I do look forward for Stage 2 because we did get the notice about how it’s going to go to Moodie and that might be very helpful for me to get to work.”

James Casselman: “My main concern is, is it better than the original system? Because if it’s not, then what’s the point? Isn’t it two-billion dollars that was spent on this? If it’s not faster, it’s a complete waste.”

“I’m just here to see if it’s faster. If it’s not more efficient, I don’t see the point of it all. But I’m hoping for the best.”

‘Fun!’: Tay Reeves

Tay Reeves (left) and his mom Dana Reid (right) were invited to board the Confederation Line for the train’s inaugural ride on Saturday morning, before the public launch. Reeves was one of the “Name the Trains” contest winners for his submission: Inuksuk. Beatrice Britneff / Global News

What do you think about the train ride?

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“Fun!”

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