‘Special’ buses to carry riders during peak hours Tuesday amidst train shortage: OC Transpo

The O-Train's Rideau station in downtown Ottawa, Ont., on Thursday, June 20, 2019.
The O-Train's Rideau station in downtown Ottawa, Ont., on Thursday, June 20, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

With a shortage of LRT trains expected to continue into Tuesday, OC Transpo says it will deploy “special buses” that will shuttle riders between Hurdman and Tunney’s Pasture stations and downtown during the morning and afternoon peak hours so the Confederation Line doesn’t get jammed up.

The head of Ottawa’s public transit agency, John Manconi, confirmed on Monday that a smaller fleet than is necessary was running on the east-west light-rail line throughout the day.

Instead of the 13 required trains, 11 were running in morning and then 10 in the afternoon, according to a statement attributed to Manconi and sent through the City of Ottawa’s media relations department.

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OC Transpo anticipates that train shortage will continue into Tuesday, Manconi said in an update on Monday night, but he did not specify how many trains would be on the tracks. The agency says it’s calling in supplementary bus service “to provide some additional capacity at the busiest times.”

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From 7:30 a.m. until 9 a.m., “special buses” will leave from both Hurdman and Tunney’s Pasture stations and drive riders “non-stop” to the downtown core. The Hurdman buses will drop passengers off at bus stops on Albert Street and the buses leaving Tunney’s Pasture will drop riders off at stops on Slater Street.

Between 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., buses will leave from Albert Street – just west of O’Connor and near the Parliament LRT station – and take riders back to Hurdman and Tunney’s Pasture stations.

“By operating buses non-stop over these busy sections of the corridor, more space will be made available for customers travelling on trains to and from other stations along the line,” Manconi wrote.

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The train shortage is the latest snafu is what has been a difficult weekend for Ottawa’s LRT system.

Service on the eastern end of the Confederation Line was crippled for most of the day Thursday because an overhead wire supplying power to an eastbound train broke and fell as the vehicle pulled into St-Laurent station shortly before 11 a.m. The event caused a major disruption to eastbound LRT riders’ afternoon and evening commutes home.

The affected train was hauled away for repairs and the overhead power line and rail were replaced overnight. Full service resumed in time for the Friday morning rush hour.

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Then, problems with track switches and switch heaters on the LRT line on both Saturday and Sunday meant replacement bus service had to be called in, according to Manconi.

On Monday, two trains had to be pulled off the tracks due to compressor- and wheel-related issues, Manconi’s first statement said.

That statement warned customers to expect “longer wait times than normal by approximately one minutes” during the afternoon peak and to expect “approximately 20 per cent more people than normal on platform and trains.”

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OC Transpo staff will be stationed at the start points of the “special bus services” to help riders.

The cost of running Tuesday’s supplementary bus service will be charged to the consortium contracted to maintain the Confederation Line, Manconi said Monday night.

Earlier Monday, Coun. Allan Hubley, who chairs the city’s transit commission, tweeted the commission will convene for a special meeting on Thursday afternoon – “solely” to get an update on the state of the LRT system.

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