News / Ottawa

O-Train needs real-time departure displays: Diane Deans

Displaying departure information at O-Train stations would mean customers don't have to sprint for a train that's not going anywhere.

Metro file

Ever sprint for the O-Train only to sit in the station for another 10 minutes?

That could soon change, thanks to a push from Coun. Diane Deans to install real-time departure displays at the five Trillium Line stations.

“This has been an ongoing bugaboo for me,” Deans told the transit commission Wednesday.

The line was expanded to include passing tracks in 2015, allowing four trains to run at a time. But now the trains must wait at Greenboro or Bayview stations for the all-clear before heading out, making schedules inconsistent, Deans said.

And the waiting trains can unnecessarily spurs passengers into a panicked sprint.

“Can we not somehow tell the passengers when the trains are going to leave?” Deans asked.

According to transportation general manager John Manconi, yes, we can.

But staff must wait until Rideau Transit Group chooses its own digital display system for the LRT line opening in 2018, so the O-Train integrates properly.

Still, Manconi said the O-Train’s displays “aren’t tied to Confederation Line” and could very likely be installed earlier. He wouldn’t commit to a timeline.

Funding would come from the city’s existing budget and new federal public transit infrastructure money.

The O-Train upgrades have been a point of contention for councillors and residents concerned they haven’t produced the promised eight-minute trip times. The best OC Transpo has managed so far is an 11-minute trip.

Deans said she’s dropped that battle, but departure displays could at least provide some predictability.

Manconi argued that with trains now arriving every five minutes, customers can wait in a climate-controlled vehicle instead of on an outdoor platform.

Deans said that’s not the point.

“Get on with it, because we need that system,” she said.