Ottawa city council approves free transit in December if LRT is back

·2 min read
A sign reads 'Fix the LRT' on the steps of Ottawa City Hall during a rally against the city's decisions around its light rail system, which has been out of commission since Sept. 19. (Nicole Williams/CBC - image credit)
A sign reads 'Fix the LRT' on the steps of Ottawa City Hall during a rally against the city's decisions around its light rail system, which has been out of commission since Sept. 19. (Nicole Williams/CBC - image credit)

With no end in sight of the Confederation Line shutdown, Ottawa city council voted in favour of free transit in December — assuming the train is running by then — and heard there is no estimate for when the light rail system will return to service.

The council meeting was still going strong late Wednesday afternoon after more than six hours as councillors continued their heated debate about whether to have a judicial inquiry about the city's problem-plagued LRT system.

Earlier in the meeting, councillors voted 17 to 6 in favour of Coun. Allan Hubley's motion to provide transit free of charge in December. Councillors who dissented included: Rick Chiarelli, Diane Deans, Mathieu Fleury, Jeff Leiper, Catherine McKenney and Carol Anne Meehan.

Hubley called the month of free transit, which will cost the city about $7.2 million, a "gesture" to riders who've suffered due to the troubled light rail line.

Leiper said he couldn't support the move because "there is no price" council could put on the "stress and the time that the LRT failures have cost the residents of Ottawa," and removing transit fare wouldn't make up for all the problems.

Nicholas Cleroux/Radio-Canada
Nicholas Cleroux/Radio-Canada

No estimate for reopening of LRT line

City manager Steve Kanellakos also gave an update on the Confederation Line, which is currently in its fourth week of closure. Kanellakos said Rideau Transit Maintenance (RTM) is expected to finish repairing the rail and other infrastructure damaged during the Sept. 19 derailment, but the city still doesn't have a return-to-service plan from RTM.

Even when the plan does arrive, it will need to be reviewed by independent consultants TRA Inc. and the city's own officials.

WATCH | City manager says no set date for LRT return:

RTM has also told the city manager the cause of the derailment was a loose gear box, he said. CBC reported that on Sept. 21.

Kanellakos says he was told the bolts that secured the gear box were not properly tightened "or verified," which led the gear box to become dislodged and drag along the track and ultimately led to "the derailment of the wheel of the train."

The city previously confirmed the train that derailed on Sept. 19 also required an axle bearing repair following the Aug. 8 derailment.

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