This scribe has been taken aback by LRT's first four months of less-than-stellar performance. But to those who are calling for LRT to be shutdown, sorry, this is moronic. We can't put hundreds of buses – which we don't have or are not roadworthy – back on the roads and reconfigure street, highway and bus only lanes back to their prior use.
Yes, all modern transit systems have daily interruptions. However, Ottawa's LRT has turned into a comedy of errors, except the riders who depend on it to get to and from work or school aren’t laughing. Worse still, OC Transpo continue to blame the Rideau Transit Group (RTG) consortium for this mess. But the city accepted the proverbial keys to the project from RTG late last summer and then, allegedly, did their own testing before launching the system mid-September.
So what testing and simulations were done? Did OC Transpo run LRT with trial passengers on board, with folks jamming doors, with trains stuck at stations or with disabled trains between stations? Did the city model resulting passenger overcrowding at the Blair and Tunney's Pasture Stations where folks must transfer to buses to get home?
We don't have the answers to these questions because our elected councillors, as best I can tell, haven't asked for full disclosure of these the trials and simulations. Neither have we seen any enterprising journalists – yet – file or reveal Freedom of Information requests to unearth this information.
Compounding this situation is the loss, rejigging, or limited hours of suburban bus routes. This has impacted seniors and those who do not have cars who relied on these former routes to get to local walk-in clinics, activities at the legion and some programming at local community and recreation centres.
Again, we don't have enough buses or drivers to restart these routes. City officials could look to the Town of Innisfil south of Barrie that partnered with Uber to offer 7/24 access with fixed rate journeys to various destinations in their community and discounted/subsidized specials for other point-to-point fares.
Or we could look at Belleville that abandoned pre-determined nighttime routing and worked with a digital platform and fleet of smaller vans/buses to respond to on-demand routing where you and five other passengers may share a small bus with multiple pick-up and drop-off locations that you request.
The Mayor, City Council, OC Transpo and its union leaders must embrace new transit innovations. And they have about 18 to 24 months to get this moving, pun intended. If not, the ballot question in the 2022 municipal election will be transit, Transit and TRANSIT with the Mayor and all councillors facing the fight of their political lives.