• By: Mckenzie Donovan

OC Transpo derailment report redacted and hidden from management

The City of Ottawa Transportation Commission met on June 15th for its regularly scheduled meeting and service update.

OC Transpo head Renée Amilcar gave a presentation on the state of Transpo service in the city, including various service announcements. There is good news on the O-Train file. According to Amilcar, the O-Train Confederation Line is running with 99 per cent statistical service reliability.

The province has also now ended all mask mandates for transit services. However, customers are encouraged to wear a mask, and protective measures are still in place, including the deep sanitization of transit vehicles; protective plexiglass will remain in place for drivers until June 16th. Customers connecting to Gatineau municipal services will have to continue to wear masks.

OC Transpo is also expanding its services and hours and providing overflow busses heading east and west to accommodate the Capital’s first in-person Canada Day celebrations in two years.

Amilcar said that tabletop exercises and preparations are already being used as rehearsal tools so that staff can effectively help customers.

OC Transpo will also be implementing “red readers,” a card reading device for fares that can use smart banking cards with a tap function as well as credit cards and mobile phone wallets, in addition to the regular Presto cards and student passes. The transit service plans to phase out the current green readers and replace them by the end of the year.

Twenty-six new bus operators are starting work this week with OC Transpo. Commission member Sarah Wright-Gilbert lauded this step but asked about bus driver hiring projections for the next three months. Amilcar stated that she did not have projections, but fewer drivers are generally needed in the summer months. Wright-Gilbert grilled Amilcar over this, saying her question was not adequately responded to and that more drivers will be required to properly fulfill services in the fall. When asked again, Amilcar noted that the city needs 80 more bus drivers plus additional staff to keep up with retirements and career changes but said new staff would be hired by September.

Wright-Gilbert also asked Amilcar about the report regarding last August's derailment that shut down the O-Train Confederation Line service for three months. Wright-Gilbert wanted to know when an unredacted report would be made available to the public; currently, only a redacted version is available. Amilcar responded they couldn’t do anything based on the “talks OC Transpo is having with Rideau Transit group” but said as soon as she gets the final report, she will share it.

The response suggests that Rideau Transit Group is redacting documents that the Transit Commission and OC Transpo need to operate future services safely. Wright-Gilbert pointed out that Amilcar cannot commit to sharing a report if it is the property of RTM/RTG and is protected under the P3 contract between the city and the company.

The Transit Commission will meet again in September.