Transit chair rejects emergency meeting on rail, bus breakdowns

By: Staff Reporter

 

The chair of the city’s transit commission has rejected a call from two city councillors for an “emergency” meeting to discuss recent transit breakdowns in Ottawa. 

Councillors Diane Deans, a past chair of the transit commission, and Catherine McKenney requested Monday that Commission Chair Allan Hubley convene the panel early to discuss  recent issues with the city’s light rail trains and double-decker buses.

OC Transpo suspended LRT service for five days last week after an issue in an axle bearing caused a derailment at Tunney’s Pasture on Aug. 8, while on Aug. 9, a double-decker bus slid into a ditch, prompting the removal of 19 double-decker buses from service for inspection.

“Both incidents have left us and residents with ongoing questions about the safety and reliability of our trains and buses,” McKenney said in a letter to Hubley, which they published on Twitter. “In the interest of accountability and transparency to residents, we request an emergency Transit Commission meeting in the next 10 days to discuss these events.”

However, Hubley denied the request in a letter, stating that OC Transpo boss John Manconi has responded “very professionally” to the incidents.

Hubley noted Transpo and its leadership “are working … day and night to identify the root cause of both events, as well as fully cooperating with the (federal Transportation Safety Board) in their review of the rail incident.”

“Throughout these events last week, Mr. Manconi has provided regular updates to City Council and Transit Commission — sometimes twice daily — as more information became available. It is inaccurate and unfair to say otherwise.”

Hubley said that Manconi will “shortly issue a detailed memo on the root cause and the ongoing inspection, and his team will also provide a fulsome update on both issues at the (Sept. 20) meeting of the Transit Commission.”

However, McKenney tweeted Tuesday that they intended to “petition” other members of the commission to try to get a majority to request an emergency meeting. Shortly after, Sarah Wright-Gilbert, a citizen transit commissioner, responded on Twitter that she has written to the city clerk in support of the meeting.

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