Driver: Transpo warns about dou­ble-deck­ers and over­hangs

Ottawa Sun - - NEWS - KELLY EGAN

A vet­eran OC Transpo driver says the com­pany specif­i­cally warns dou­ble-decker op­er­a­tors to be­ware of Transitway over­hangs.

Driv­ers take spe­cial train­ing to op­er­ate dou­ble-deck­ers like the one that crashed into West­boro sta­tion dur­ing Fri­day’s af­ter­noon com­mute, killing three peo­ple. The canopy hit the bus just above the floor on the second deck.

“The first thing they taught us was stay the hell away from the struc­tures at the sta­tions be­cause you’re not go­ing to clear them,” said the op­er­a­tor, speak­ing on con­di­tion that he not be named, for fear of los­ing his job.

“We’re ac­tu­ally taught to board pas­sen­gers fur­ther out from the curb than we nor­mally would.”

The driver pointed out that the over­hangs, which ap­pear to be made from tubu­lar steel, have caused prob­lems for sin­gle-level buses be­cause they pro­trude so close to the road.

In 2003, a sin­gle-deck Route 86 bus slammed into the over­hang at Lees sta­tion and tore open the roof. Six pas­sen­gers were hurt.

In 2003, a sin­gle-level OC Transpo bus crashed into a shel­ter at Lees sta­tion on the Transitway. No one was se­ri­ously in­jured in that crash.

Driv­ers who spoke to the Sun Satur­day had dif­fer­ent opin­ions about the dou­ble-deck­ers, in­tro­duced to the fleet a decade ago.

One driver said the OC likes the U.K.-built buses so much be­cause of their ca­pac­ity — 96 sit­ting pas­sen­gers and 14 stand­ing — but said they are bet­ter suited to high­ways than ur­ban routes with many stops and starts. An­other driver said the curb­ing dis­tance of the bus is dif­fer­ent be­cause it has slightly re­cessed wheels.

One driver said the buses aren’t as solidly built as the 60-foot­ers, calling it “a chas­sis, four posts and a metal skin.”

The transitway shel­ters, mean­while, “are built in­cred­i­bly strong, so you drive some­thing built like a tin can into it and the re­sult is what you had yesterday.”

An­other driver spoke of the ex­tra dis­trac­tion caused by a wind­shield-side mon­i­tor that keeps an eye on ac­tiv­ity on the second level.

“They’ve moved the up­stairs cam­era right by the rear-view win­dow, so it’s in line of sight. There is high dis­trac­tion. They have that stupid mon­i­tor for the second floor that you have to learn to ig­nore,” one driver said.

The no­tion that a dou­ble-decker driver has too much to keep track of was a ma­jor issue in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the crash on Sept. 18, 2013, in which a two-level bus broke through rail bar­ri­ers and struck a mov­ing train just out­side Fal­low­field sta­tion.

Driv­ers also spoke of the role that speed may have played in Fri­day’s ac­ci­dent. The speed limit for buses go­ing through a Transitway sta­tion is 50 km/h, though one driver said the max­i­mum al­low­able speed be­tween Tun­ney’s and West­boro sta­tion is 90 km/h.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.