Transit commissioner says city has to do better

One of Ottawa’s citizen transit commissioners says the city needs to be much more transparent about the problems with the LRT and invest more in transit before winter hits. 

Communication, overcrowding major problems since LRT launch

A crowded Tunney's Pasture station during one of many delays earlier this month. Citizen transit commissioner Sarah Wright-Gilbert said the city has to do a better job communicating during delays. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

One of Ottawa's citizen transit commissioners says the city needs to be much more transparent about the problems with LRT and invest more in transit before winter hits. 

Sarah Wright-Gilbert is one of four citizen representatives on the city's transit commission, which also has eight members of council and is charged with overseeing OC Transpo. 

She said the constant delays with the new LRT system are a real credibility problem. 

"Last week was not a good week," she said in a telephone interview on Monday.

    Trains were running on a delayed schedule for more than nine hours last week and Wright-Gilbert said the least the city can do is offer clear information about how long the delay could last and what went wrong.

    She said the current announcements don't do that. 

    "It doesn't tell [riders] any information to make an informed decision about how they want to handle the rest of their commute," she said. 

    She said the commission has also been left out of the loop. 

    "The transit commission has received zero information about any of the delays last week," she said. "We have received zero information from OC Transpo staff." 

    Three councillors called Monday for an emergency meeting of the city's transit commission, which was turned down.

    Crowded platforms 

    Wright-Gilbert said the other major issue she wants to see addressed is the capacity of the system.

      "I am crammed into a bus every single morning like a human sardine and this is bringing out behaviour in people in Ottawa that I am not enjoying," she said, adding she starts work earlier than most and is travelling outside of peak hours.

        She said she has seen pushing and frustration, which could turn dangerous.

        Come winter, she said the system has to work much better than it has. 

        "In this city it can get down to -40 C on a good day in January and February and that is a long time for people to wait."

        With files from Kimberley Molina


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