Backup bus fleet for Ottawa LRT disruptions will hit the road Monday

Dedicated replacement buses deployed when Ottawa LRT service is disrupted will be "clearly marked.". City of Ottawa

The 20 new buses that OC Transpo has acquired early as a backup bus fleet when light-rail service is disrupted will hit the road on Monday, Dec. 2, the city’s head of transportation services said Friday.

In a memo addressed to members of Ottawa city council, OC Transpo boss John Manconi said the buses will be staffed and stationed at the baseball stadium off Coventry Road, near Tremblay LRT station, at the start of the next work week.

OC Transpo announced last week that it had secured 20 more Nova buses for its fleet to help transport riders if service along the Confederation Line is down or delayed significantly during the morning and afternoon rush hours.

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The buses will be “clearly marked” as replacement – or R1 – service vehicles which “will help customers to identify them when deployed,” Manconi wrote on Friday.

Having a dedicated fleet in the wings when train problems come up will mean the transit agency won’t have to draw buses away from other regular routes to carry passengers and can respond more quickly when that replacement service is needed, according to OC Transpo.

The new $2.1-billion train launched mid-September but began facing repeated service interruptions throughout October and into November due to computer, door and rail switch issues.

The City of Ottawa had ordered the 20 Nova buses for spring 2020 to use for bus detours as Stage 2 LRT work ramps up, but the city managed to get them early, members of the transit commission heard during their last meeting at city hall last week.

“This dedicated fleet is one of the many innovations and improvements OC Transpo is providing in stations and throughout the transit network to improve service to our customers and keep our city moving,” Manconi wrote in Friday’s memo.

On Friday, Global News asked OC Transpo whether the agency is confident it can consistently staff all 20 buses in the weeks ahead.

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“The R1 service is a high priority and we are doing everything we can to ensure its reliability,” said a statement attributed to Jim Greer, director of transit operations.

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

Global News also asked the city how much operating the dedicated replacement buses will cost.

“An update will be provided to the transit commission and council once the information is available,” said a separate statement attributed to Pat Scrimgeour, director of transit customer systems and planning.

City officials said last week they intend to charge the builder of the Confederation Line and its maintenance division for the cost of operating the R1 fleet.

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