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As LRT shutdown continues, riders look for other ways to get around

As OC Transpo continues to run tests along the LRT line to dig deeper into issues plaguing the wheel hub assembly, riders say they’re starting to lose patience more than a week into the shutdown.

“We depend on the LRT to run every five minutes and the buses don’t run accordingly, especially going to Rideau and stuff so it’s obviously frustrating and irritating,” said Khoschi Kapoor.

It’s also costly for riders actively seeking out more reliable transportation options.

“I work every day early in morning and I have to grab Ubers. It’s costing me $30 to $40 each way several times a day,” said Philip Bontekoe.

Frustration with bus-only service and with overcrowding on the R1 has others avoiding it all together.

That includes Ella Primeau, a software engineering student at the University of Ottawa. After a previous derailment, she started making maps of alternative bus routes for her friends. During the most recent shutdown, she’s shared them publicly.

Ella Primeau, a software engineering student, has created maps of alternate bus routes to help riders avoid crowded R1 buses. (Katie Griffin/CTV News Ottawa).

“It’s like when people go for a drive just to clear their head, I go for a bus ride. And so I just gather all of this information, just by kind of osmosis of using the system,” Primeau said. “I’ve noticed a lot people are saying ‘Yeah, I tried this bus and it worked out really well,’ so I’m just so glad.”

A map of alternate bus routes riders can use to avoid the R1 replacement buses created by Ella Primeau.

On Monday, OC Transpo revealed that because of a bearing issue—the root cause of which has not been identified—there will be a complete redesign of the wheel hub assembly. As a result, every axle on every single train will have to be replaced, but there will first need to be a design, prototype and significant testing before that happens, which is more than a year away, according to officials.

Patrick Dumond, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Ottawa, said there are two main factors likely coming into play.

“There are trains that are much bigger, heavier and longer than were expected with the design that is currently on the train, so there’s extra load being applied in the vertical direction but then because there’s extra load being applied in the vertical direction, when the train goes into corners all that extra load is shifting sideways and putting pressure on the wheels in the horizontal direction also adding additional load with those wheels,” he said.

The promise of a potential fix that is still a long way away is not good enough for many riders who continue to be impacted by yet another shutdown.

“I find it’s just a joke because other cities get on top of it faster,” said Bontekoe. 

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