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Council reverses transit call

It’s not how anyone would have wanted it, but OC Transpo’s automated next stop announcement system is getting back on the bus.

It’s not how anyone would have wanted it, but OC Transpo’s automated next stop announcement system is getting back on the bus.

Yesterday, city council reversed an Oct. 28 decision to cancel the $12.1 million next stop announcement system from Clever Devices after new information revealed that decision would end up costing $25 million when it came time to install Smartcard features.

“We could not proceed with the Smartcard system without upgrading the current platform,” said transit services general manager Alain Mercier.

In a Nov. 4 memo to council, Mercier wrote those upgrades would cost $7.3 million, plus $5.8 million for the Smartcard hardware, while the Clever Devices system already comes with those features.

This new information brought strong rebuke from city council led by Mayor Larry O’Brien, who said the decision may have been correct, but the logic behind it was poorly conveyed.

“The communication from your department, Mr. Mercier, to us, was abysmal and you need to hear that,” said O’Brien.

“This is new information that just filters in, and it almost feels like I’m being blackmailed into supporting something I don’t want to support,” said Innes Ward Coun. Rainer Bloess.

OC Transpo initially hoped to purchase a stop announcement system for around $7 million, but the staff-recommended bid from transit technology company Clever Devices came in at $17 million.

Council voted to cancel the bid after receiving a letter from Bell implying they could face a legal challenge if it purchased any of the additional features.

In a Nov. 4 memo to council, Mercier wrote it would take two years for a new process to have the system on buses in Ottawa, whereas the recommended system could start rolling out in four months.