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Letters from OC Transpo to all customers

Updates on transit operations:

Thursday, October 10, 2019

To OC Transpo customers,

Below is an update on this morning's transit operations, with an explanation of the events that caused delays for many customers travelling through downtown. We understand the inconvenience and frustration you have experienced and apologize wholeheartedly. We are focused and committed to doing what is necessary to ensure that we provide the reliable O-Train service that Ottawa expects and deserves.

This morning at approximately 7:20 a.m., a train on Line 1 was stopped at Bayview Station, because of an issue with the onboard computer that controls each train's systems and which had to be reset. Like a personal computer, this reset process involved rebooting the system and engaging technical support staff. Normally, this is a relatively quick reset but this morning there was a delay in the process which we are investigating.

During the delay, we began a single-track diversion on Line 1 to bypass the immobilized train at Bayview. Train service was maintained across the entire line with full service between Blair and Lyon Stations in both directions, and reduced frequency between Tunney's Pasture and Lyon Stations. Station announcements and customer updates were published using all channels.

To supplement the reduced train service, we began running R1 replacement bus service from Tunney's Pasture Station to Rideau Station. In addition, some eastbound buses arriving at Tunney's Pasture were directed to continue their way through downtown, which enabled customers to continue with their commute.

Many customers experienced a 20 to 30 minute increase in their travel times. Once the train's computer system was restored, the train was removed from service and both tracks at Bayview were returned to normal service. Full Line 1 service was restored at approximately 8:15 a.m. but customers continued to experience short delays on Line 1 until approximately 8:30.

As always, our focus is to provide consistent, reliable rail service on your new line and to adhere to all of our safety protocols and ensure that passenger safety is never impacted.

Improvements to Stations and Processes

During the past three mornings, many customers have experienced delays on O-Train Line 1. We are undertaking several initiatives to address the cause of the delays and identify and prevent other potential delays in the future.

Some work that has been done to date:

  • Constant communications with all bus operators in person and by phone to confirm that they are clear on the new routing and to answer any questions about the service change as we move through this significant bus service change that is critical to the multi modal system.
  • We are working on a plan to install strap hangers on the grab bars in trains;
  • Refining procedures that contribute to door faults:
    • Adjusting dwell times (the amount of time a door is kept open) at stations aligning the timing to passenger volume and train frequency times;
    • Alstom is reviewing all door issues to help us assess root causes and identify any issues or measures that can minimise door issues;
    • Alstom is reviewing all door settings to assess if sensitivity settings are consistent across the fleet;
    • Deploying customer representatives to platforms to remind customers:
      • to stand clear of doorways for loading and unloading;
      • not to run for trains; and
      • not to hold doors;
    • Providing customers with tips for boarding and disembarking;
    • Making station announcements asking customers not to run for trains, to stand clear of doors and not to hold doors; and
    • Installing markings on platforms guiding customers on where to wait, so as to not block customers who are stepping off trains.

We also have taken steps to improve service reliability and the experience for customers transferring from trains to buses at Tunney's Pasture and Blair stations, the two busiest transfer stations:

  • At Tunney's Pasture Station:
    • A railing on the north side of Tunney's Pasture station is being extended to help keep customers safe along the edge of the bus roadway. This work is scheduled for Thursday evening.
    • To improve customer circulation, we widened the north bus platform and paved a walking path behind the shelters. Today, we opened a similar paved area behind the shelters on the south bus platform;
    • The additional space on both platforms provides more room for customers to queue and will reduce conflict between customers who are waiting or in the process of boarding and those who are walking along the platform to their stop;
    • On-street operational staff and red-vested staff continue to guide and encourage customers to use the pathways; and
    • We are also examining the feasibility of installing weather protection for portions of the platform.
  • At Blair Station:
    • Some bus routes have been reassigned to pick up customers at different stops, to reduce congestion on the platform and bus roadway;
    • Additional wayfinding signage has been installed to assist customers to find their bus route and the exit to Gloucester Centre;
    • An accessible bus is always on call to accommodate customers in case of any failure of the single, older, non-redundant elevator at the north entrance to the station; and,
    • Staff are using customer and operator reports and passenger count data to determine whether any schedule changes or additional capacity are required on bus routes; service has already been adjusted to provide more capacity on certain routes
  • At both stations:
    • Staging additional buses for the morning and afternoon peak periods to ensure service reliability from stations is maintained;
    • Staging tow trucks to ensure a quick removal of any buses, which keeps traffic moving within the station; and,
    • Additional operations supervisors, special constables, and customer support staff in red vests have been assigned to the stations to keep buses flowing well, to keep customers safe, and to answer questions from customers.

OC Transpo
City of Ottawa

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

To all OC Transpo customers,

Between approximately 8:05 and 9:30 this morning, we had an operational problem on O-Train Line 1. I am writing to apologize for the delay and inconvenience this caused for you, and to explain what happened.

At 8:05 a.m., a westbound train on Line 1 had a fault with a door at uOttawa Station. In most cases when a door fault occurs, the Electric Rail Operator (ERO) can attend to the door and resolve the problem in a timely manner. In this case, however, when the ERO and a technician on board were unable to resolve the issue, the train was cleared of passengers and the train was placed out of service.

Door faults, or any issue that cannot be repaired or addressed on the spot and which cause the train to become immobilized, require the use of a diversion line to detour trains around the obstacle until the affected train can be moved off the line. The diversion this morning required both eastbound and westbound trains to share the eastbound track for a 2.5 km section between uOttawa and Hurdman stations. This resulted in delays of between 15 and 20 minutes to trains in both directions. Once the affected train was removed from the line, full service was restored by 8:45 and residual delays were cleared by 9:15 a.m.

The delays in service affected not only our customers who were on board the trains, but also those who were waiting in stations and who were transferring from buses to trains. Customers who were transferring from buses to trains at Tunney’s Pasture Station were delayed until enough trains arrived to carry away the waiting customers and because there was a backup of buses approaching the station. Customers who were transferring at other stations, including Hurdman Station, were also delayed until trains resumed service.

We are investigating this morning’s incident to determine why we were unable to resolve the door fault on the spot. For the most part, the door faults we have experienced to date on Line 1 have caused minimal delays for customers. We have been collecting feedback from customers and are looking into the duration of time that the doors are programmed to be open at uOttawa Station. We are also looking at ways to improve our response for any future incidents. Our goal is always to minimize delays and to restore service as quickly as is safely possible.

One of the most common issues for all rail operations is door faults. Similar issues are common in rail transit operations around the world. All features of the trains, including the doors, are designed with safety and accessibility at the forefront. The train doors are equipped with a sensitive edge, which means that if there is something blocking the doors, like a backpack or a person, the door would reopen until the obstruction is removed. The train can only depart the station if the doors are clear and fully closed. 

Please remember to stand clear of the doors as they are closing and please do not hold the doors. If a train you are waiting to board is closing its doors, please wait for the next train. If you are on board a train, please be near the doors and be ready to step off the train when it arrives at your station. If you are waiting on a platform, please stand to one side of the doors when the train arrives, to let customers get off the train, before you board.

Again, I apologize for the inconvenience these delays caused for you this morning.

John Manconi

General Manager, Transportation Services
City of Ottawa