Ottawa’s light rail sub-committee receives plan to address public inquiry recommendations

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By Robin MacLennan

Ottawa Construction News staff writer

The City of Ottawa’s light rail sub-committee is recommending approval for an action plan in response to the OLRT Public Inquiry recommendations. Council voted on the recommendation May 10.

As part of developing recommendations, a third-party review of the action plan was completed by Roland Berger Inc.

The Public Inquiry made 103 recommendations, most directed at the city and its contractors, Rideau Transit Group and Rideau Transit Maintenance. The action plan lists each recommendation, who is responsible for leading the required change, the actions being taken, and the current status.

According to city staff, Ottawa has completed 36 recommendations and the remainder are in progress, anticipated to be completed by the end of 2023.

Progress will be shared on OC Transpo’s Commitment to Transparency web page. The status of each recommendation will be updated as work continues and staff will provide two formal updates to the light rail sub-committee later this year.

While the recommendations relate to Ottawa’s O-Train Line 1, the action plan is a city-wide initiative that will impact current and future LRT projects, as well as other major infrastructure projects, city officials said.

The City of Ottawa awarded the Rideau Transit Group (RTG), a consortium of international companies, a $2.1 billion fixed-price contract to design, build and maintain Ottawa’s light rail transit (LRT) system for 30 years. O-Train Line 1 opened in September 2019.

Shortly after the service began, issues arose in multiple areas of its operations that resulted in extended LRT closures, poor overall transit reliability, and reduced credibility for OC Transpo. OC Transpo continuously worked with RTG to resolve these technical issues. However, in summer 2021, the issues culminated in two separate derailments that closed the LRT system down for multiple weeks.

As a result of failures, Ottawa issued a Notice of Default to RTG on Sept. 24, 2021, which was in addition to a Notice of Default issued Mar. 10, 2020.

Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney announced a public inquiry into Stage 1 of Ottawa’s

Light Rail Transit (LRT) system and the public inquiry commission received more than one million documents, heard from 35 individual witnesses/witness panels and held a panel on public-private partnerships before making recommendations.

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