2019 is a transit transition year: Watson

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says 2019 will be a “transition year” when it comes to the city’s transit system.

Many city councillors have spent this week participating in a transit challenge to use OC Transpo for all of their transportation outside of emergencies. Some have had to admit there are gaps in the service that couldn’t accommodate their duties as councillors.

Speaking on CTV Morning Live, Watson admitted that the system needs to be improved.

“There’s no question we’ve had one of the worst winters in terms of weather and flooding and so on and we’ve had a lot of detours as a result of building the LRT,” Watson said. “So, as a result of that a lot of the bus system has become unreliable.”

Watson said he does believe bus rapid transit is a great system, but the city has a glaring weak point.

“On Slater and Albert, if a taxi or car or delivery truck is parked illegally the whole system backs up and it has a ripple effect for the rest of the day.”

Watson said once LRT launches, it would triple the number of people who can move through the downtown core.

“With LRT, we go from a capacity of 8,000 in and out of the downtown an hour to 24,000,” he said. “It’s unsegregated, underground, so you’re not going to have those problems, so it’s going to be a much more reliable system.”

The launch of the Confederation Line LRT has been repeatedly delayed. The City’s current projection for a handover date from the Rideau Transit Group is on or before March 31, 2019. The City would still need to do its own testing before passengers would be able to board, meaning it likely won’t be ready to ride until late April or early May.