Ottawa’s light-rail transit (LRT) system now has 15 trains available during peak hours, according to the head of the city’s transit agency, marking a key milestone in scaling the system back up to full service in the fall.
OC Transpo boss John Manconi said in a memo to council on Tuesday that Rideau Transit Group (RTG) has confirmed to him that 15 trains plus two spares are available for the Confederation Line LRT during peak morning service hours.
Manconi had previously told Ottawa council that the issues plaguing the LRT trains — ranging from faulty auxiliary power units to regular door jams to cracks on the vehicles’ wheels — are a major obstacle in preparing the city’s transit system for full-service restoration this fall.
OC Transpo is currently running a reduced summer service schedule amid disruption from the novel coronavirus pandemic.
While RTG has prepared a 15-vehicle fleet for service, the city can actually only run 13 trains plus two spares at a time, given the enhanced daily wheel inspection protocols introduced a few weeks ago.
These fleet levels should see trains arrive at transit stations every four minutes and provide opportunities for physical distancing, given the current reduced passenger loads.
Manconi said that as the investigation into recent wheel cracks on LRT trains progresses, additional vehicles might be added to morning peak service times.
Manconi had told council he was pushing RTG to fix outstanding issues with the Ottawa LRT by the end of August, but that the city was stuck in a “blame game” between the consortium and train maker Alstom on where responsibility fell for the recurring problems on the transit line.
Ottawa has allowed RTG to take advantage of lower ridership numbers in the pandemic and close down the line for extended periods of time this summer to conduct additional maintenance work.