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Outsourcing inspections, maintenance of LRT major issue for City of Ottawa: Councillor Meehan

"One of the big questions I had when I heard about this latest incident is, 'If RTG is doing regular maintenance, why did this happen?' They say they're doing regular maintenance and inspections all the time. Well, obviously not," says Carol-Anne Meehan
2019-08-23 Ottawa City Councillor Carol Anne Meehan MV1
Ottawa City Councillor Carol Anne Meehan, August 23, 2019. Mike Vlasveld/ CityNews

Gloucester-South Nepean Ward City Councillor Carol-Anne Meehan wishes the City of Ottawa didn't have to rely so heavily on Rideau Transit Group (RTG) to sort out issues with its light rail trains and double-decker buses.

A train derailment on August 8 has lead to the discovery of a problem with the axle assembly on a total of 10 train cars, while an incident involving a double-decker bus sliding into a ditch on August 9 took 19 of those same-model buses out of service and a handful remain out.

OC Transpo handles all of its own bus maintenance, but it's RTG's responsibility to fix the issues with OC Transpo's Line 1 train fleet, and the city is in a 30-year agreement with the group.

"I don't know what the solution is, because in many respects our hands are tied because of our contract," says Meehan. "We at the city don't have the expertise, honestly, to go and fix these trains ourselves. I wish we did. I wish we had a dedicated group of engineers to tackle these issues."

"One of the big questions I had when I heard about this latest incident is, 'If RTG is doing regular maintenance, why did this happen?' They say they're doing regular maintenance and inspections all the time. Well, obviously not," the councillor continues. 

Meehan feels she and her fellow council members were left in the dark regarding last week's train derailment too. Councillors Diane Deans and Catherine McKenney tried to call an emergency meeting, but it was quickly shut down by Transit Commission Chair Allan Hubley and Mayor Jim Watson.

"I mean, what can be done and how honest is everybody being with us if we can't even have a basic city council meeting to get to the bottom of this, what do we do? We just sit and wait?"

The latest memo from General Manager of Transportation John Manconi on Wednesday said the number of trains available for service may continue to fluctuate as Rideau Transit Maintenance continues its root cause investigation.

Since returning to full service at the beginning of this week, the O-Train has been running every five minutes, as per usual, along the Confederation Line.
 

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