Tough ques­tions are be­ing asked about bus tragedy

PressReader - Tke Channel - Tough ques­tions are be­ing asked about bus tragedy
As all of Ot­tawa mourns the dead and prays for the in­jured, tough ques­tions are al­ready be­ing asked about Fri­day’s tragic crash of an OC Transpo dou­ble-decker bus at West­boro Sta­tion.Was ice on the Tran­sit­way a fac­tor in the crash? Did late-af­ter­noon sun­light im­pede the driver’s vi­sion? How fast was the bus go­ing? What were the per­sonal cir­cum­stances of the driver? Of the pas­sen­gers? Were there me­chan­i­cal is­sues of any sort with the Alexan­der Den­nis E500 dou­ble-decker bus it­self ? Were there train­ing is­sues? Are such dou­ble-deck­ers some­how less solid or stable than other buses? Is there any­thing about the Tran­sit­way de­sign, or ar­chi­tec­ture and state of the sta­tions them­selves, that could have con­trib­uted to the crash? Should the city ask out­side ex­perts, such as the Trans­porta­tion Safety Board, to lead the in­ves­ti­ga­tion?We know some things, as of this week­end:• That emer­gency re­spon­ders acted quickly and pro­fes­sion­ally to as­sist the pas­sen­gers and those on the plat­form, and that our area hos­pi­tals, start­ing with the Civic cam­pus, put their emer­gency plans into prac­tice swiftly and ef­fec­tively, no doubt sav­ing lives even amid the tragic loss of three of our cit­i­zens;• We know the city’s lead­ers — start­ing with Mayor Jim Wat­son and in­clud­ing top city brass and po­lice Chief Charles Borde­leau — tried to share what in­for­ma­tion they could with the pub­lic as soon as pos­si­ble. As with last fall’s tor­na­does, they un­der­stood that, dur­ing an emer­gency, an in­formed pub­lic is a pa­tient and sup­port­ive one;• We know that OC Transpo worked dili­gently to get tran­sit users to their des­ti­na­tions via route and bus changes, that other driv­ers stepped in and that the com­mu­nity in gen­eral worked to help those dis­placed and dis­ori­ented by this dis­as­ter.On Satur­day, Ot­tawa Po­lice Chief Charles Borde­leau laud­ably pledged, “We want to be as trans­par­ent as pos­si­ble be­cause we know the com­mu­nity has ques­tions about how this oc­curred.” Ques­tions, yes — and trau­matic mem­o­ries. Most Ot­tawans re­call stark images of the 2013 bus-rail crash that killed six, and they will de­mand an­swers about Fri­day’s tragedy. In­evitably, peo­ple will com­pare the two dis­as­ters, since both in­volved Transpo dou­ble-deck­ers. These were very dif­fer­ent crashes, in dif­fer­ent sea­sons of the year and at dif­fer­ent times of day, but the type of bus in­volved raises ob­vi­ous ques­tions.Among them is the over­all safety of dou­ble-deck­ers. Many ex­perts say noth­ing makes these less safe than other buses, but that leaves open the ques­tion of bus safety in gen­eral. In its re­port on the 2013 bus-rail crash, the Trans­porta­tion Safety Board said many tran­sit buses were “gen­er­ally sub­ject to the fewest safety stan­dards.” On dou­ble-deck­ers, it sug­gested there wasn’t suf­fi­cient “im­pact pro­tec­tion” for pas­sen­gers seated at the front of the top row. At least two dif­fer­ent sources in­ter­viewed by the Cit­i­zen com­pared these buses in some way to “tin cans” on wheels. This vivid metaphor may — or may not — re­flect safety; only a thor­ough, trans­par­ent in­ves­ti­ga­tion will pro­vide an an­swer.Transpo driv­ers, mean­while, told the Cit­i­zen’s Kelly Egan that driv­ing dou­ble-deck­ers isn’t straight­for­ward. One said Transpo warns its dou­ble-decker driv­ers to be alert to Tran­sit­way over­hangs. Other driv­ers talked about how the “curb­ing” is dif­fer­ent on dou­ble-deck­ers. Some com­plained about the dis­trac­tion of mon­i­tors for the up­per level.So many ques­tions, such an aw­ful tragedy. Ot­tawans need an­swers, even as we em­brace and try to sup­port our fel­low cit­i­zens so deeply af­fected by the crash.

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