Another winter of hell.
That’s where John Manconi, the general manager of OC Transpo, draws the line.
Manconi says he’s simply not willing to put this city through another Ottawa winter and a malfunctioning light rail system. Don’t blame him one bit. And certainly believe him to be sincere. But just one problem, seems he doesn’t have a lot of power to ensure this city doesn’t have to endure another hellish winter. Surely if Manconi had the power to make it so, he’d already have done that.
Even attempting to force the hands of RTG by withholding regularly scheduled payments hasn’t seemed to do anything to speed things up, and apparently the company still phones the city every other day looking for their money.
“For an organization that wants to be paid and only gets paid when I get the product, I don’t understand it,” Manconi said. “They call the city manager and myself every second day looking for money and we keep telling them, the easiest way that council will support us giving you money is if you give us the service.”
Manconi’s frustration is palatable – and understandable. Surely the city has to be working on a plan on how to break the contract with the company, something citizen transit commissioner Sarah Wright-Gilbert has frequently called for. But in a session with reporters after the meeting, the GM wouldn’t go there, saying while city councillors had an in-camera meeting – he wouldn’t talk publicly about what-ifs.
“I am not happy now. We need a service to be reliable and consistent,” he said.
Don’t blame him, but again, where does this get us? Taxpayers are understandably upset not just with the poor service but the price tag of the $2.1 billion rail system that doesn’t deliver.
The entire picture is pretty ugly. OC Transpo had an $8 million deficit at the end of the first quarter, expenses are up and not surprising, revenues are down. Hard to make money when ridership has drastically dropped off.
Another update on the failing system isn’t expected until July.
At the end of the meeting, hearing nothing but bad things about the failing system, citizen commissioner Anthony Carricato suggested having Transpo staff start a procurement process for selling ads on LRT trains and in stations. Say what?
Is it just me, or does this seem like a colossal waste of staff’s time? The timing definitely seems a bit off. With a drastic drop in ridership due to COVID, and a system that still isn’t reliable, who’s going to rush to buy ads?
That being said, the motion received unanimous approval by the commission.