An eighth train is expected to be added to the Confederation Line service on Thursday as the LRT inches its way back to an 11-train service with replacement buses sent back to their previous bus routes, the transit commission heard Wednesday morning.
In an update on state of Ottawa's public transit system, commissioners heard the Confederation Line that's slowly returning to service is better than the one shut down after a second derailment on Sept. 19.
"We need to be proud today that the safety work that needs to be done was done," the new head of OC Transpo Renée Amilcar said in French.
The head of the maintenance arm of the LRT builder, which is responsible for making sure the system works properly, agreed the Confederation Line that reopened last Friday is improved.
"The system we delivered to you is better than the one that was shut down," said Mario Guerra, CEO of Rideau Transit Maintenance.
'It's not a lemon'
The complete shutdown allowed maintenance technicians to get to outstanding issues they haven't been able to get to during regular service, he added later in the meeting. That included speed restrictions along the line, Guerra said.
Coun. Catherine McKenney asked about reports the train often "slows down to a crawl" between Rideau and uOttawa stations. Amilcar said a piece of rail at Rideau station is being replaced Wednesday night to improve the noise experienced in that area, but it's not clear the new rail will improve the speed through that part of the line.
Representatives from Transportation Resource Associates (TRA) — the consultants the city hired to review and approve the LRT return-to-service plan after the September derailment — said they would look into the speed issue at Rideau.
TRA executives did tell transit commission the Confederation Line is solid.
"It's not a lemon," said TRA CEO Kenneth Korach. "There's no aspect of it that strikes me as being inherently defective or deficient."
Daniel Hauber, vice-president of TRA, said "from a design perspective, from an execution perspective, it's really an excellent system … There's nothing inherently deficient."
Amilcar said she expects 11 double-car trains to run by the end of the month and to be available in December when passengers can ride for free. OC Transpo officials say only 11 trains are needed to provide full service during COVID-19, instead of the 15 that are supposed to be available during rush-hour service.
The buses that were used for R1 service were returned Wednesday to local routes that had been cancelled.
During the LRT shutdown, ridership took a hit as people likely found other ways to travel because R1 service is slower than the train, said Pat Scrimgeour, OC Transpo's director of systems and planning.
He said ridership fell by 100,000 in October compared to September. That means ridership last month was about 41 per cent of what it was pre-pandemic.
The transit commission also heard that RTM has not been paid for September or October, as the LRT was down, but is looking at whether to pay the group for November. The Confederation Line was down for 11 days this month, and is only offering partial service for the rest of November.