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The City authorized the deferral of the shortcomings by recognizing the end of the construction of the LRT

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The City of Ottawa has awarded the Rideau Transit Group free rides on faults identified on the LRT system as it decides whether the private consortium hits a major construction milestone in 2019, the board of inquiry heard Thursday .

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Testimony from a key SLR official on Day 9 of the investigation also confirmed that the city had agreed to change the operating requirements for on-the-fly testing, returning to a less stringent method for assessing system reliability.

Richard Holder, who was recently named director of engineering services for OC Transpo, oversaw many parts of the Stage 1 LRT project as a manager in the city’s rail office.

The Commission’s co-lead attorney, Kate McGrann, showed Holder a list of deficiencies — unfinished items that were beyond those listed on a separate list of “minor deficiencies” — that the city approved to carry over to substantial completion.

Asked if the shortcomings would impact the city’s enjoyment of the LRT system, Holder replied, “They would.”

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On paper, these free passes were breathtaking, especially when it comes to Alstom Citadis Spirit vehicles.

For each of the 34 single-train cars, a gap log indicated that fleet availability had yet to be confirmed.

The list of reported deficiencies also included “failure to meet service standards due to subsystem reliability” and “failure to meet fleet requirements due to persistent faults or deficiencies”.

Why would the city declare LRT construction “complete” with outstanding issues that would impact the reliability of the system?

According to Holder’s testimony, the city was comfortable allowing RTG to defer the defects because it believed the company would fix the problems before the paying public boarded the trains.

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Train performance was also improving and the city had a new reduced service plan.

Holder said the city believed at the time that only nine or 10 two-car trains would be needed to handle peak passenger volumes, well below the 15 trains required under the contract.

The project’s independent certifier declared substantial completion on July 26, 2019. The trial began three days later.

“There were still steps to go before we entered passenger service,” Holder said Thursday.

But there was a significant change in the judging criteria during the trial as part of an agreement between RTG and the city.

The purser was told that the peak hour fleet had been reduced to 13 trains as RTG struggled to get 15 trains out of the marshalling yard during morning practice.

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In addition, a test of “average total vehicle-kilometre ratio”, which is a measure of performance, would obtain a pass of 96%, instead of 98%, and this measure would have to be achieved on nine of the 12 days.

Holder testified that the 98% rate “was a very difficult goal to achieve”.

The city and RTG essentially reverted to the criteria established in 2017, rather than sticking to stricter benchmarks established in 2019.

Confirmation of “paid service availability” provided a final check before the city accepted the LRT system on August 30, 2019. The confirmation came with a large payment to RTG as part of the contract to have reached the major milestone.

The LRT system was opened to the public on September 14, 2019.

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The commissioner, Judge William Hourigan, heard testimony from several expert witnesses who said they questioned whether the LRT system, while deemed safe for passengers, would provide reliable service from the gate.

The initial success of LRT’s system depended in large part on RTG’s ability to handle a heavy maintenance load through the work of its subsidiary, Rideau Transit Maintenance (RTM).

Holder testified that he believed RTG “would have additional people who would be available to undertake the additional work that was required during the first weeks and months of tax service until the deficiencies were addressed and until reliability issues improved with the rectification of various modernization programs that were in place.

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In reality, RTM was overwhelmed with maintenance requests in the months following the launch of the system.

When questioned by city attorney Jesse Gardner, Holder said he didn’t feel obligated to rush a declaration of substantial completion or reach a conclusion on how the trial would proceed.

Holder said he was not told by any city staff or city consultant at the time that the system was unsuitable for use or would have reliability issues that should prevent launch.

The commissioner heard that there were still gaps, nearly three years after RTG completed the essentials.

Transit customers know one of the shortcomings very well.

A camera system helping train operators monitor the edges of the station’s platforms has failed, so the city has allowed RTG to use workers to ensure customers aren’t trapped in the doors of the station. train. Observers whistled when it is safe for the train to leave the station.

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Holder told David Jeanes of Transport Action Canada, who has standing to ask questions during the inquiry, that the observers “will no longer be needed very soon” as RTG validates testing of the technology.

The commissioner was also scheduled to hear testimony from independent certifier Monica Sechiari on Thursday, but her appearance has been postponed to July 4.

The public can watch the SLR’s Inquiry hearings on video screens in the University of Ottawa’s Fauteux Hall, online at or on Rogers TV (channels 470 in English and 471 in French).

The scheduled witnesses on Friday are Matthew Slade, who has held senior positions at OLRT Constructors and RTM, and Yang Liu, an Alstom engineer who has worked on commissioning and maintenance programs.

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