Riders feeling 'abandoned' as Ottawa enters 4th week with no return date for LRT

·2 min read
A sign reads
A sign reads

Frustrations are at an all-time high among city councillors, transit advocates and riders as Ottawa enters its fourth week without light rail transit and without any sense of when service will return.

Dozens protested in front of City Hall on Tuesday, demanding accountability for the LRT. The Confederation Line hasn't been in service since it came off the rails on Sept. 19. It is the second derailment in six weeks.

Rideau Transit Maintenance (RTM) initially said it expected the train would be out of service for at least a week. The very next day, that answer changed to an estimated three weeks.

There has been no update from the city since on when service will resume. In an email, rail construction director Michael Morgan brought up the resumption plan that will be checked by independent experts and said council will get updates as soon as they're available.

"People feel like they've been a bit abandoned, they've been a bit betrayed, I think, by their city representatives because there just isn't any official word from city council about what's going on," said Kari Glynes Elliott, board member with advocacy group Ottawa Transit Riders.

Glynes Elliott said people continue to struggle with the R1 buses, which were put in place as a temporary replacement to the LRT. Many people have complained of the service's unreliability and overcrowding on buses.

Riders have been voicing their "stress and unhappiness and concern about what lies in the future", she said.

Nicole Williams/CBC
Nicole Williams/CBC

'Little transparency' says councillor

Coun. Shawn Menard said the lack of information on when LRT service will return is "emblematic of this term of council."

"We've seen a lack of communication on this issue repeatedly, partly because of the contract that we signed, a public-private partnership which has afforded little transparency, but also it's the leadership of the city," Menard said.

A city council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, where it's expected two motions on the LRT will be voted on. They will include calls for a public inquiry and a report on what it would take for the city to be able to walk away from its maintenance contract with RTM.

Menard said he isn't expecting an update on the return of train service.

"We're not seeing accountability in the city for the situation that's transpired," he said.

A transit commission meeting is also scheduled for next week. Menard said he's hopeful there'll be some answers then.

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