From the first days of the year, Troy Charter walks on eggshells.
We had problems on the evening of December 31 and my team had to go back to work, recalls the Director of Transit Operations at the City of Ottawa.
The launch of light rail four months earlier was not restful. Technical glitches were noted and then resolved.
During the first two weeks of the new year, if any incidents do occur, they are after all quite minor. But already, users are on their guard.
We knew we were going to have minor delays and sometimes we would have one less train, but we started to experience major issues, remembers Mr. Charter.
Electrical problems are increasing. The discontent of users is soaring. Of the 13 trains that must be in service at least during rush hour, there are only 11, 10, 9 and sometimes even 8.
We saw a lot of problems. So when it worked, we said to ourselves: ‘OK, it’s working now, but we expect that we will have problems that will come back’. And that’s exactly what we saw, says Henry Paikin, spokesperson for the Ottawa Transit Users Group.
The situation is such that during the winter, Mayor Jim Watson describes
unacceptable the work of the consortium responsible for the construction and maintenance of the train, the Rideau Transportation Group (RTG). He informs him that the City will stop paying for their services until the service to users is adequate.
Carrier OC Transpo says it offered 88% scheduled service in January. In February, a slight improvement brings the rate to 90%. These are the two worst months since the train’s launch and it is well below the acceptability threshold of 97%.
I think the results, it’s clear, it’s really a failure.
It’s a tough year. A difficult year for the users and I am aware and sorry for what they went through , says Mr. Charter.
Knowing how to profit from the pandemic
When the pandemic hit, ridership dropped by about 90%. At Ottawa City Hall, transit officials see it as a perfect opportunity for the Rideau Transportation Group to do the necessary work.
Service interruptions then have fewer consequences than in normal times.
However, despite the low traffic, technical problems are multiplying. There is a lot of pressure on the GTRPeter Lauch, announces that he is leaving the ship in June.and the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer,
Interruptions to carry out major work, particularly on needle heaters, were made in November to avoid switching problems in the middle of winter.
Time when there is less traffic allows work to be done that could improve the system faster, Explain Troy Charter.
In all, Mr. Charter assesses that the municipality had to set up its bus replacement service 23 times due to temporary closures of the light rail. And he doesn’t close the door to other such interruptions taking place if the GTR requests it
If it’s to improve the system in a sustainable way, we will say yes, he slices.
In November, the light rail only posted 20% of its ridership compared to the previous year. On average, OC Transpo provides service to 28% of its regular customers.
The TSB takes an interest in light rail
In the middle of July, cracks were observed on three wheels from three light trains of the Alstom firm. The first crack is discovered during routine maintenance and the rest during a special inspection.
On July 10, Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB) launches an investigation.
I had not in any way contemplated an investigation of the BST. Nobody wants this, because it means that something happened, admet Troy Charter.
In the last few weeks, the BSTsuggested in a letter to OC Transpo management that all LRT wheels be replaced.
However, it seems that only damaged wheels will be damaged. The BSTdid not find this decision inappropriate. The office will submit its report in the coming months.
As for the year 2021, Henry Paikin believes that it will still be difficult.
It’s a system that really has problems in terms of governance, maintenance, funding and we have to try to do better, he argues.