Editorial: Trillium Line bid shows why Ottawa is losing trust in public transit

By the Editor, Ottawa Citizen, January 24, 2020

Of course this can be fixed. One day it will be fine. Trust us.

Those weren’t the exact words of city managers Thursday as they reviewed the latest light-rail glitches at a transit commission meeting, but that was certainly the sentiment. We’ve got the best people on it and outside experts have been hired. Hang in.

How anyone can trust them now is beyond us. That same evening, after the five-hour public meeting devoted to the Confederation Line ended, the city released more detail on the three bids to build the north-south Trillium Line extension. These documents offer an astonishing critique of SNC-Lavalin’s proposal. Under the project name TransitNEXT, SNC won the contract to build the extension despite failing – twice – to meet the minimum technical scores with its pitch. This part of its bid was a snapshot of ineptitude.

In a report made public months after council was strong-armed into approving SNC’s proposal, evaluators described a “poor technical submission throughout (civil, track, stations, systems and vehicles).” They wrote that the company relied on “sweeping motherhood statements that demonstrated a limited understanding of the project, were often contradicted and/or not backed up.”  There was “little or no” detail on the signalling and train control system. SNC didn’t have a plan to adapt the Alstom trains on the line, a “fatal flaw” according to the technical evaluation team.


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