Train shortage causes LRT delays, crowding

Train shortage causes LRT delays, crowding

For the second day in a row, OC Transpo doesn't have enough working trains to adequately service its four-month-old Confederation Line. 

It said Tuesday at 1:15 p.m. it would have 10 working trains through the afternoon rush, meaning trains will run approximately every five or six minutes instead of every three minutes during that peak period.

At times this morning, as few as eight were running.

OC Transpo is running "special buses" alongside its trains to help alleviate expected crowds and delays on the LRT line caused by the train shortage.

From 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., OC Transpo will run special buses from Albert Street, just west of O'Connor Street near Parliament station, to both Hurdman and Tunney's Pasture stations to get out of the core.

Those buses ran from Hurdman and Tunney's Pasture stations to downtown from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Buses from Hurdman dropped passengers off at stops on Albert Street, similar to how express buses worked before Oct. 6, 2019 (but without stopping at stations along the way).

Buses leaving from Tunney's Pasture let people off on Slater Street.

10 trains yesterday; 13 normally

On Monday afternoon, only 10 trains were working down from the 13 at rush hour and 11 during off-peak times required to meet rider demand.

"It's just frustrating," said Coun. Riley Brockington on Monday. The River councillor is also a member of Ottawa's transit commission.

"Most reasonable people can understand and accept some issues now and then with the public transit system as a whole, but not with the frequency that we've seen for such a brand new service."

Costs to run the special replacement buses Tuesday will be charged to the LRT's builders Rideau Transit Group, said Manconi.

They're now responsible for maintenance on the LRT under the name Rideau Transit Maintenance.

Francis Ferland/CBC

The drop in the number of trains Monday and Tuesday was caused by a handful of problems with trains.

On Thursday a wire above a train broke and damaged the train as it entered St. Laurent station, one train is out of service with a compressor issue and a few other trains are experiencing wheel flats, said OC Transpo operations director Troy Charter Monday afternoon.

Wheel flats mean part of the wheel is dragging on the track instead of turning.

That issue is "a main contributor to the inability to have 13 trains at peak period right now," he said.

Special meeting Thursday

The city owns 17 double-carriage trains for the Confederation Line, but two trains have yet to be sufficiently tested and are not ready for service.

The other 15 are used in regular rotation or as backups, said Brockington.

As only eight were working Tuesday it stands to reason seven trains were undergoing or have undergone repairs at the same time. Again, the city has not confirmed this.

Jean-Sebastien Marier/Radio Canada

"Sometimes you have to take trains out of service for regular maintenance that's planned, but the number of issues that we've seen and the technical issues with these trains is not something that we should expect," said Brockington.

The city councillor plans to raise both the St. Laurent station wire break and the lack of working trains at a special transit commission meeting on Thursday.

Both officials with Rideau Transit Maintenance and OC Transpo are attending Thursday's meeting.