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The line will connect the U of O to Carleton in under an hour. Photo: Parker Townes.

LRT Confederation Line faces more delays, pushing opening back to 2019

The opening of the new Light Rail Transit (LRT) Confederation Line has been delayed from Nov. 2 to a yet to be determined time in early 2019. The November date was already a six-month delay from the initial opening date, which was scheduled for May.

The Rideau Transit Group (RTG), a compilation of companies contracted to complete the project, was found to be behind schedule in late August after an assessment by the City of Ottawa did not match the RTG’s updates.

Before the delay was discovered, the City rerouted several bus routes to accommodate the LRT line. Despite the postponement, OC Transpo has decided to continue with this change. This leaves a gap in transit options from Elgin to the Rideau Centre.

A meeting of the City’s Transit Commission will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 19 where discussion surrounding the restoration of the original bus routes will be on the agenda.

Mathieu Fleury, City Councillor for Ward 12, wants people to know “that the City is on it.” He continued to note that “the contract (with the RTG) protects the taxpayer,” referring to the fact that the contract fines RTG in the amount of $1 million.

In addition, the RTG are responsible for covering the operating costs of 170 buses, which they were expecting to drop after the opening of the line, for the duration of the delays. This additional operating time will cost around $4 million a month.

“RTG has no reason to continue the delays,” Fleury said.  “They are as motivated as anyone else is to see (the Confederation Line) open.”

The RTG is conducting test runs along the line from the U of O main campus to Blair and from O’Brian to Tunney’s Pasture. All parties involved have agreed the tests seem to be going well. Because of this, there was discussion between partners around a partial opening of these sections.

However, OC Transpo declared the concept a no-go due to conflict with certain elements of their contract. Fleury was not discouraged by this response, and said that a train from Blair to the U of O would have “no benefit” until more connections are made between the stations.

The major cause of delays is due to construction on Rideau Street and the tunnel itself. The Rideau station has been significantly delayed in part due to a sinkhole that appeared by the Rideau Centre in 2016. Further construction still needs to be completed on the downtown tunnel that will stretch from Rideau to Lyon.

With these new delays coming so close to the October municipal elections, Fleury admits that this may be a factor for voters, however, he said that fluid transit is a “top priority.” For now, students and community members are expected to “adapt and roll with the punches.”