Monday, March 30, 2009

Maintenance problems slow return to full OC service

Apparently OC Transpo is having a hard time getting the necessary maintenance work done to meet service resumption benchmarks established after the city's 52-day transit strike. From the Ottawa Citizen:

This week there were supposed to be 770 OC Transpo buses on the roads of the city but there are only 745 available, according to a memo from transit general manager Alain Mercier.

The transit company is seeing several maintenance setbacks, including “unexpected design deficiencies” on new 60-foot and 40-foot New Flyer buses.

Transpo’s own maintenance staff is too busy to handle all of the work of getting the city’s fleet of 1,020 buses in shape and local garages cannot handle the surplus work, so the company is looking to garages in Montreal and Kingston to help out.

1 comment:

Klaus said...

Permit me to thank Alain for keeping Councillors informed on the status of bus availability and measures taken to remove the maintenance backlog. Alain's memo also reflects what people have been seeing - OC Transpo buses traveling to Montreal!

What is particularly discouraging is hearing of the "unexpected design deficiencies" in recently purchased articulated and 40-foot buses and perhaps Council would like to hear more about what these are, and what are the costs to the City (should this not be covered under warranty)?

I expect Councillors would like to know whether the ongoing maintenance with the artics has anything to do with how they are used by OC Transpo - at high speeds and high load factors on long-haul transitways. It is my understanding that the buses OC Transpo buys are standard municipal transit buses and not highway grade buses.

And, what impact do these design deficiencies have on the schedule of delivery/acceptance for the next batches of new artics and 40ft buses? This finding seems to suggest a silver lining in holding back purchases /delivery of some of the new buses in 2009 due to the need to transfer capital funds to fill the operating shortfall as a consequence of a downward revision to 80 million riders this year instead of the budgeted 104 million riders.

But of greatest immediate concern is Alain's warning "of increased congestion on high capacity routes". Alain is quoted as saying: "Effective immediately for p.m. peak service, we have modified schedules according to capacity based on a close examination of ridership data, and an analysis of both local and very high frequency routes."

Whereas these changes are identified on the OC Transpo web site, I have seen no announcements in local newspapers, nor heard announcements on radio asking people to check the website for service reductions on high capacity routes.

Perhaps I have missed them....were there any?

I think that such service changes should be prominently announced through the media so that affected riders and not just Council via an internal memo are made aware.