Inaugural LRT commute 'very good on all fronts,' transit boss says

Inaugural LRT commute 'very good on all fronts,' transit boss says

Ottawa transit officials say they were pleased by the smooth transition commuters made to light rail on Monday morning, a day OC Transpo has been planning for years.

"This morning's commute was was very, very good on all fronts," transportation general manager John Manconi told reporters at a noon-hour briefing.

Manconi and councillors offered no firm numbers for how many people jumped on the train instead of staying on the bus system, which will keep operating as it traditionally has until a major changeover on Oct. 6. 

"The trains were full. People weren't as smiling as much as they were on the weekend but that's because they're going to work on Monday morning," said Coun. Allan Hubley, transit commission chair.

"I suspect there's some water cooler discussions of people comparing their commute times bus to rail. There might be some people opting to use the rail inbound for tomorrow morning," Manconi added.

Escalators at Rideau

The system is experiencing minor issues, such as escalators at Rideau station that stopped working intermittently over the weekend

They did not break down, Manconi underscored.

"This is all normal. Those elevators and escalators go through a fine-tuning period," he said. "There's heavy loads so [the technicians] adjust the belts and so forth.

Manconi said a technician has been stationed at Rideau full time to keep tabs on its eight elevators and 18 escalators.

The 59 elevators and 43 escalators along the full length of the new Confederation Line are monitored in real time so interruptions are spotted right away, he added.

Jean Delisle/CBC

Before the Confederation Line opened Monday morning, a woman scaled a fence into Tunney's Pasture station and entered areas where she was not permitted. The trespasser was behaving erratically and was later taken to hospital with minor injuries, Manconi said.

A team is investigating what happened, and will look at video footage to figure out how to "close any breaches."

Bus driver layoffs to come

The next test will come Oct. 6, when the duplicate bus service ends and the train line truly becomes the backbone upon which the entire transit system depends.

Riders will have to adjust to more than 100 route changes. Fewer than 200 OC Transpo drivers will be laid off, a number that has been steadily dropping over the years.

"We do not have to lay off as many people as we originally thought," said Manconi, thanking the transit unions for working with management to deal with vacant positions.

Some 180 OC Transpo buses will also be taken off the road after the transition.