Rideau Transit Group might be paid for April LRT service: Manconi

An LRT train rushes by the platform at Rideau Station. (Ted Raymond / CTV News Ottawa)

It has been a relatively problem-free month on the Confederation Line.

Ridership has plunged severely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the LRT continues to run between Tunney's Pasture and Blair stations every day. The lack of severe issues means the Rideau Transit Group might be entitled to their first maintenance payment since September, according to the City's general manager of transportation services.

Responding to a question about maintenance payments from Gloucester–South Nepean councillor Carol Anne Meehan, John Manconi said RTG still hasn't received a single payment on their 30-year maintenance contract since the first one, after the line launched in mid-September 2019.

"The only maintenance payment we made is the one we advised you of," Manconi said. "There's been no other maintenance payments to date."

The payments are approximately $5 million a month.

"What we are working on right now is looking at the April payment," Manconi said. "If they do achieve service with the reduced fleet count they'll be entitled to a payment on that. We've made it very clear to RTG we just pay them what they're entitled to."

According to the @OCTranspoLive Twitter feed, the only issues on the Confederation Line that have warranted alerts in April so far were a brake fault on April 6 and a "system issue" on April 14.

O-Train Line 1: Slightly longer travel times may be experienced between Tremblay and Rideau stations due to a train with a break fault brake fault being held at uOttawa. All service on westbound platforms only between Tremblay and Rideau stations. https://t.co/yZSLz1Ysrn

— OC Transpo Live (@OCTranspoLive) April 6, 2020

O-Train Line 1: Customers travelling westbound from Blair to Tunney’s Pasture may experience longer wait times due to a system issue. https://t.co/y8pHHFWH02

— OC Transpo Live (@OCTranspoLive) April 14, 2020

The issue on April 6 was resolved within 20 minutes, but it took just under two hours for regular service to resume on April 14.

Manconi said there are active discussion with RTG about the millions of dollars that have been held back since the 12.5 km light rail line began experiencing problem after problem. The City is waiting for invoices from January and February, but has received the invoice for December, which may also merit a payment.

"I know it's a distant memory right now but they did have a fairly decent December so they might be entitled – and I emphasize might be entitled – to some payments on that," Manconi said.

There was an issue on New Year's Eve that caused delays on a night when service was free. It was blamed on dirty power connectors.

If any new maintenance payments are made to RTG, Manconi said Council would be informed via memo.

In March, RTG delivered a plan outlining how it would fix the issues affecting LRT, but at the April 8 council meeting, the City's director of rail operations said it didn't meet the city's requirements and wass missing a timeline to fix the issues.

The City of Ottawa has gone back to Rideau Transit Group to discuss the issues and the timelines associated with the plan to address the issues, with an update expected in May.