• Who’s driv­ing the LRT?

Meet Peter Dor­nan, 58, an ex­pe­ri­enced OC Transpo bus driver who will be one of 50 rail op­er­a­tors driv­ing the trains this fall. Matt Har­ri­son talked with Dor­nan about the chal­lenges he’ll be fac­ing — and what’s go­ing on in­side that cab

Ottawa Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Who’s “driv­ing”? It’s sim­i­lar in some re­spects to driv­ing a bus, be­cause you’re still aware of your sur­round­ings and ready to re­act to what’s go­ing on around you. But with the au­to­matic mode, there’s much more com­put­er­i­za­tion, so the re­spon­si­bil­ity is taken from me un­til I see some­thing that re­quires me to act. There might be any pos­si­ble prob­lems ahead of me — is­sues with the track, over­head lines, tres­passers, an­i­mals ...

What else might hap­pen — jumpers? I’m be­ing trained for all kinds of sce­nar­ios ... At some point in your ca­reer, the pos­si­bil­ity ex­ists that this will hap­pen. I think there’s not much you can do if some­one is de­ter­mined to do that. We have to be aware at all times that this pos­si­bil­ity ex­ists and, if pos­si­ble, stop the train be­fore it hap­pens. At this point in the train­ing, it’s more about how we, as hu­man be­ings, deal with it. I’m not any more anx­ious about this pos­si­bil­ity than when I was driv­ing a bus for 36 years.

Is ac­cess to the driver re­stricted? The doors [to the cab where the driver sits] will be locked at all times when in op­er­a­tion. There will be in­stances when I will have to leave the cab — for ex­am­ple, if there is a prob­lem with a door or if there’s an is­sue on the track — but any­time I have to get out of the cab, I need to con­tact head­quar­ters. I have to ask them for per­mis­sion to leave and ex­plain why it’s nec­es­sary — this in­cludes need­ing to go to the wash­room!

What about dis­putes, ha­rass­ment, and med­i­cal emer­gen­cies? There’s the pas­sen­ger in­ter­com [lo­cated through­out each train car], and if some­one alerts me to a sit­u­a­tion us­ing this, I then ra­dio con­trol and OC Transpo has spe­cial con­sta­bles who at­tend to that.

What can you do (or not do) while driv­ing? Just like a bus, you have to be alert at all times. You can’t be us­ing any phones, ra­dios, etc. When you’re in the cab, your fo­cus is on the train’s move­ment and the safety of the pas­sen­gers.

What kinds of weather could shut down the train? There’s no weather con­di­tion that I’m aware of where we’d stop the train.

What will you (or won’t you) miss about driv­ing a bus? I thought I was go­ing to miss the in­ter­ac­tion with pas­sen­gers, but I must ad­mit, at the mo­ment, I’m just lov­ing this. What I won’t miss about driv­ing a bus is all the fare is­sues. By the time peo­ple get onto my train, all the fare is­sues — the big­gest bane of the bus driver’s life — have al­ready been taken care of.

Driver’s seat Dor­nan sits in a train­ing sim­u­la­tor, which in­cludes a mock-up of the seat­ing area. The sim­u­la­tor lets him be­come fa­mil­iar with the cock­pit, driv­ing un­der­ground, and where pas­sen­gers will be si­t­u­ated

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