Calls grow for independent probe
There were growing calls Tuesday to have independent investigators look into Friday’s OC Transpo bus crash, even as discussions are underway about bringing in technical support from the Transportation Safety Board.Ottawa West-Nepean Progressive Conservative MPP Jeremy Roberts called for an “independent and thorough” investigation into the deadly bus crash. He wants to see it run jointly by the TSB and Ottawa Police.Meanwhile, Gloucester-South Nepean Coun. Carol Anne Meehan said an independent, arm’slength investigation into the crash would “instil more confidence” in OC Transpo.“There are a lot of people who are questioning the safety of the buses and wondering who has got our backs on this one,” she said.Meehan suggested experts from the Montreal or Calgary transit authorities be brought in to report on the deadly collision that killed three people and sent 23 to hospital late Friday afternoon.“It would give a lot of people confidence to know that somebody who doesn’t have a vested interest in OC Transpo and the city is taking a good look.”Roberts noted that Ottawa has suffered a disproportionately large number of transit-related deaths compared with Toronto.“This form of transportation is based on an inherent expectation that citizens’ safety is paramount to the system. Over the last decade, the City of Ottawa has twice failed the public in this regard.”There have been other calls for the independent Transportation Safety Board — which investigated the 2013 OC Transpo bus-train crash — to investigate the most recent crash, including from some parents of hockey players who died in the Humboldt Broncos crash.TSB chair Kathy Fox has offered technical support to Ottawa police, who are leading the investigation, and the coroner’s office, saying the agency learned a lot about the crashworthiness of the double-decker buses during its 2013 investigation. Investigating the crash is not within the TSB’s mandate, but Fox said Tuesday that discussions were underway about the agency’s support in the investigation.“We will see where they go.” Capital Ward Coun. Shawn Menard said the city and Ottawa police should accept the TSB’s support.“Particularly given that this is the second in five years with a bus this large and the amount of injuries and death, to me it makes a lot of sense to have them support the investigation, which the OPS would still lead.”Menard added that he has “confidence in the Ottawa Police Service and the double-decker fleet, but I believe the TSB should be involved here.”After the 2013 crash, in which six people died, the TSB issued a report recommending the federal government introduce standards to make large passenger buses better able to withstand crashes.OC Transpo and other officials have emphasized that its buses meet all safety regulations. But Fox said it’s the regulations that are faulty.Buses over 26,000 pounds, which include the buses involved in Friday’s crash, the 2013 crash and the Humboldt Broncos crash, have some of weakest regulations of any vehicles when it comes to crashworthiness.“Although they meet current regulatory standards, the problem is that the standards don’t go far enough,” Fox said.After the 2013 crash, the TSB recommended Transport Canada bring in standards to require frontal impact, side impact, rollover and crush protection standards that would protect passengers during collisions.“The current standard doesn’t go far enough to provide passengers with sufficient accident prevention,” Fox said.We saw it as an unfortunate ... opportunity to remind Transport Canada that the recommendations need to be acted on.As of January 2018, Transport Canada had yet to begin what it says will be a three-year crashworthiness testing program, because it was unable to acquire a bus shell for testing.The TSB has investigated collisions involving school buses — which have much tougher crashworthiness standards — and trains, where the passengers and vehicles “fared much better.”Fox said when she saw images from Friday’s crash she was “sickened, horrified and shocked.”The TSB issued a statement in response to calls for it to investigate. It clarified that bus accidents are not part of its mandate, but offered technical support.It also pushed Transport Canada to do better when it comes to making passenger buses safer.“We saw it as an unfortunate and tragic opportunity to remind Transport Canada that the recommendations need to be acted on and they need to expedite their activities.”
© PressReader. All rights reserved.