New OC Transpo head vows to restore trust in transit network

·2 min read
Renée Amilcar smiles for a photo Tuesday, one day after officially starting her new job as Ottawa's general manager of transit services.  (Raphael Tremblay/CBC - image credit)
Renée Amilcar smiles for a photo Tuesday, one day after officially starting her new job as Ottawa's general manager of transit services. (Raphael Tremblay/CBC - image credit)

Ottawa's new transit head says her engineering background makes her the right person to tackle the challenges facing the city's problem-riddled transit network and restore riders' trust.

Renée Amilcar officially started Monday in her new role as general manager of transit services in the nation's capital.

An industrial engineer who was previously the executive director of bus services for Montreal's transit network, Amilcar has replaced longtime city employee John Manconi at the helm of OC Transpo.

Manconi retired Sept. 30 after more than three decades with the municipality.

"I believe in people, and I believe in the team [that] is here," said Amilcar Tuesday in an interview with CBC News.

"Technical problems will be resolved by technical solutions and I'm very good on that. And I will work very, very hard with my team, and we'll find solutions for the customers."

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press
Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Trains not running, ridership down

Amilcar takes over at a challenging time for the city's transit network, as the Confederation LRT line has been out of service since a train derailed Sept. 19 as it approached Tremblay station.

The resulting shutdown has led to complaints from transit riders about stuffed replacement buses that don't always arrive when they're supposed to. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is also now investigating how the derailment, the second in a six-week span, came to be.

Even before the derailment, the COVID-19 pandemic had driven ridership numbers — and the municipal revenue those rides generate — down steeply.

The first step in convincing those riders to return to OC Transpo, Amilcar said, would be to restore service.

"We have to make sure that the service will be reliable and safe," said Amilcar. "And after that, I think that people will have confidence [in] us. I believe that."

Raphael Tremblay/CBC
Raphael Tremblay/CBC

Prior to her time with Montreal's transit service, Amilcar also worked for the aerospace engineering firm Pratt & Whitney and the telecommunications company Nortel Networks.

She has an engineering degree from École Polytechnique de Montréal and an MBA from the Université de Sherbrooke, according to a city memo sent out at the time her hiring was announced.

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