Experts call on TSB to probe fatal bus crash in Ottawa
Experts are calling on the federal Transportation Safety Board to investigate a deadly bus crash in Ottawa to prevent similar incidents from occurring again.
Ahmed Shalaby, a civil engineering professor at the University of Manitoba, said the Transportation Safety Board should be involved in investigating the deadly crash to ensure the probe is transparent and recommendations are made to improve safety across the country.
“The bus was carrying 90 passengers,” he said. “Is that not important enough to warrant a federal safety investigation? If it isn’t, then what is?”
On Friday afternoon, a doubledecker bus operated by local transportation agency OC Transpo hopped a curb and struck a transit shelter, carving deep into the vehicle’s upper level and crushing a number of seats. Three people were killed and 23 were injured.
In a tweet, the Ottawa Hospital says the patients who had been listed in critical condition are now considered to be in serious condition.
The safety board confirmed that they are not investigating the bus crash as the federal independent agency only probes marine, pipeline, rail and air incidents.
“If this bus were a train, the [board] would immediately investigate. That’s not enough to make a difference to me,” said Dr. Shalaby, who is also the chair of a research program on municipal infrastructure.
The board’s mandate is to advance transportation safety by conducting investigations that result in public reports and making recommendations to improve transit safety.
The board investigated a crash in 2013 in which six people were killed in an OC Transpo doubledecker bus, but only because a Via Rail train was involved. The train and bus collided during a morning commute in suburban Ottawa, shearing off the front of the bus.
But Dr. Shalaby said the kind of vehicle involved in a mass-fatality crash shouldn’t make a difference in what spurs a government-led investigation.
Constable Chuck Benoit said police continue to investigate the circumstances of the crash and if the police force believes additional agencies are needed, they would be sought out. The city referred to Ottawa police when reached for comment.
Graham Larkin, executive director of Vision Zero, which works toward reducing traffic-related deaths and injuries, said he believes the board should be involved in the investigation since these types of crashes have occurred before.
“It seems crazy to ignore road safety,” Mr. Larkin said. “There’s no reason the government shouldn’ t be taking a lead on this .”