Six months after Ottawa’s LRT was first launched, the city’s council has taken steps to improve the service. After countless delays, cancellations and malfunctions, the company who built the system have been given 22 days to fix Ottawa LRT’s operating issues. If they don’t, the council is threatening to end their contract.

After a lengthy meeting on Monday afternoon, Ottawa’s City Council voted 19-0 in favour of issuing a notice of default to Rideau Transit Group, in response to the ongoing problems with the LRT service.

In a statement shared on Twitter, the council explained, “This escalation of the city’s legal rights is in response to Rideau Transit Group’s failure to address significant issues with train and station availability, and the multiple failures that have continued across the light-rail transit system since the start of service.”

The notice will be delivered to Rideau Transit Group on Tuesday, and will give the company until the end of the month to come up with a solid plan for fixing the Confederation Line’s issues.

“It’s time to give them a real kick in the pants to smarten them up,” Mayor Jim Watson said after Monday’s council session.

“We’ve given them six months. We’ve seen some improvements, but clearly not enough to satisfy the public or members of council,” he added.

The council will receive an update in early-April. They expect to hear a plan from Rideau Transit Group (RTG), with a time frame to fix the service's problems.

“RTG needs to do whatever it takes to improve the reliability of the system and deliver the service we paid for,” said Watson.

Since the system launched in September 2019, there has been countless issues with the Confederation Line. There's been door failures, power issues, and even overcrowding, and it became so bad that a support group for distressed and anxious passengers had to be set up.

While the notice confirmed that there would be no interruption to rail service, and taxpayers would be “protected”, it seems it’s too little, too late for some of Ottawa’s commuters.

Responding to Mayor Jim Watson’s tweet, one frustrated Ottawan wrote, "Too little too late. The past six months have felt like years. RTG gets to set its own schedule for improvements? Cool. For $2 billion, #OttLRT should have been reliable from day 1."

Another simply added, "This notice is 5 months overdue."

City Manager Steve Kanellakos confirmed that this is the first notice of default the city has ever issued to a company.

“It’s a very serious step within the contract agreement,” he said.

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