LRT ‘default’ was poised to be the big city hall headline in 2020, then the pandemic hit Ottawa

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Cracked train wheels discovered during upkeep on the Alstom Citadis Spirit trains prompted an investigation by the Transportation Safety Board and a daily wheel inspection program at the LRT maintenance facility.

RTG made changes in its corporate leadership, bringing in new CEOs at both the parent company and its affiliate Rideau Transit Maintenance, which has a 30-year LRT maintenance agreement with the city.

In August, 15 trains ran during the morning peak period for the first time since LRT launched in September 2019. That’s the number of trains taxpayers expected when the rail system was purchased.

Perhaps the best news for LRT in 2020 was that train availability improved in the second half of the year.

Transportation plans and decisions had significant policy impacts this year.

Photo radar set up along Bayshore Drive in July. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

Photo radar hit Ottawa streets in July and the city launched a pilot program allowing electronic kick scooters and scooter rental companies. Council approved a corridor to one day extend LRT to Barrhaven and endorsed a plan by the City of Gatineau to (again, one day) build a tram line from Aylmer to downtown Ottawa. After years of construction, Rideau Street fully opened in December.

Then there was the sideshow.

College Coun. Rick Chiarelli and his alleged conduct violations, which were uncovered by the integrity commissioner, provided a distraction to the big policy issues of the year.

Council voted unanimously to suspend Chiarelli’s pay for 450 days in response to the integrity findings, which included allegations of Chiarelli making inappropriate comments to two former staffers and three job applicants.