logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo
star Bookmark: Tag Tag Tag Tag Tag
Canada

Corrigan: Riding Ottawa's light rail – a night to remember

My wife and I call ourselves Sunday senior surfers, because we take the O-Train on Sundays to rediscover downtown Ottawa and it’s free for seniors. We’ll go have brunch, check out the ByWard Market and Rideau Centre, so we wanted to show it off to our friends who live in Kanata and Carp and haven’t taken public transportation in more than 20 years.

We were going to celebrate New Year’s Eve together and this would be a perfect time to ride the rails and rediscover Ottawa’s downtown, all at OC Transpo’s invitation. We’d go to St. Laurent Station and ride to Rideau Station, a quick 10-minute run, then walk to a rib restaurant in the Market. We’d hop back on and return to St. Laurent to see a movie. Finally, we’d head to our house to welcome in the New Year.

That was the plan, and everything went swimmingly until we headed back to Rideau Station. We were told the trains were not running and to take an “R1” bus. It was 6:20 p.m. and the movie started at 7 p.m. Luckily, we were able to get onto a bus. However, a journey that was supposed to take 10 minutes by O-Train ended up taking over half an hour by bus.

Ottawa commuters are being used as lab rats for Transpo’s trials and tribulations.

When we arrived at St. Laurent Station and as we were getting off the bus, our friend, who has a back condition, slipped and fell flat on her back, soaked with slush. It was 7:15 p.m. and she was scared, cold and crying. “Are you OK?” said the bus driver as we rallied around our friend lying in the muck. Our stoic friend replied “I’m OK”, as she was lifted to her feet. She was trying to be brave though soaked to the skin.

But there was no point going to the theatre now. We headed to our place to dry off. All that evening we were concerned for her, though she tried unsuccessfully to reassure us that she was fine. The look on her husband’s face told another story.

We felt horrible. Our friends had put their trust in our suggestion to catch a bite downtown and then a film, but instead they ended up being cast in a local disaster movie. This was the maiden New Year’s Eve run for the O-Train, which turned out to be, for transit users, a Titanic disaster. Like the Titanic, this “iceberg” should have been avoided, with proper maintenance to prevent a power failure.

Ottawa commuters are being used as lab rats for Transpo’s trials and tribulations. When the transitway was originally suggested, we were handed a line: It was going to be the best mass transit system in Canada. We suffered through years of disruptions, and when that didn’t work, much of that transitway was replaced to accommodate light rail. What we got was Ottawa’s version of Boeing’s 737 Max. A lot of money going nowhere. (At least they grounded the planes to figure out what was wrong.)

We are paying a lot of money to have buses waiting in baseball and sports centre parking lots to shuttle passengers in case the trains stop running. Taxpayers are ultimately going to be funding these follies and when the money runs out halfway through Phase 2, they will blame it on the mistakes of the past. Take some of that money and buy some smarts and experience.

This system, when it works, is convenient and fast, but instead of driving people to take the train, people are being driven away. Let’s hope OC Transpo will one day stop having to tweet “thank you for your patience.”

T.K. Corrigan is a graphic artist who lives in Ottawa.

Themes
ICO