Let our police handle probe of bus crash ADAM
The OC Transpo double-decker bus crash at Westboro Station that left three dead and 23 injured has traumatized the city. And coming five years after another double-decker was involved in a Via train collision that took six lives, it is easy to see why people are demanding quick answers. You should not leave work to go home on public transit and end up dead or injured. It shouldn’t happen.But the growing demands for an independent investigation into the crash, especially from politicians, are misguided and unhelpful, and must stop. It’s not clear why we need such a so-called independent investigation and what it would achieve. Fundamentally, what happened on Friday was a vehicular crash with tragic consequences. A transit bus veered off-course at a station where it was not even supposed to stop and crashed into a bus shelter, resulting in carnage. Sad as it is, this is the kind of crash police deal with all the time. They are trained for this, and immediately after the crash, police Chief Charles Bordeleau said all necessary resources would be devoted to the investigation.Was the crash the result of driver error? Mechanical failure? Speeding? Ice on the road, or some other cause? Let the police do the work for which they are so eminently qualified, tell us what happened, and then we can move forward with other steps. If the Ottawa police need help, they know where to look. They have now asked for technical assistance from the Transportation Safety Board, and that’s good. But at this stage, this is essentially a police collision investigation, and we need to let it run its course without interference.The idea that we would need an independent body to undertake this investigation implies that Ottawa police are incapable of such an undertaking, and that’s absurd, as is the suggestion that we should bring in tran- sit experts from Montreal or Calgary to investigate, ostensibly to prevent people with a vested interest in OC Transpo and the city from mucking it up. Let’s remember that this is not an OC Transpo or city hall investigation; it is a police investigation. What do transit experts from Montreal, Calgary or any other city know about collision investigation that Ottawa police don’t know? What vested interest does a professional police service have in a tragic crash other than digging up the facts?There’s no doubt that people are hurting. Some groups wanted the mayor to make the Transportation Safety Board the lead on the safety investigation. TSB chair Kathy Fox herself has come out swinging, slamming Transport Canada for ignoring the board’s recommendations on bus safety standards following the 2013 fatal bus-train crash. In particular, the recommendation to drastically strengthen the front-end framings of double-decker buses went unheeded. Who knows? A sturdier upper front-end of bus 269 might have saved lives when it crashed into the shelter.And yes, in the sad aftermath of the 2013 Fallowfield crash and last year’s Humboldt Broncos tragedy, there is an urgent need for improved safety standards for buses. It may even be necessary to pull double deckers from service and perhaps redesign some transit stations. We just don’t have enough information to make those decisions yet. Unquestionably, TSB has a role to play going forward, but let’s not make decisions in a vacuum.Our Number 1 priority right now is to find out why Express Bus 269 careened off the transitway and slammed into a bus shelter. That’s the key to the puzzle and that’s what the police are focused on. Leave them to do their job and when they are done, the TSB can deal with any systemic issues. In the meantime, let’s devote ourselves to supporting the families of those who so tragically lost their lives and to the injured who are still recovering in hospital.
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