TSB says Transport Canada has much to do in terms of safety regulations on transit vehicles

Click to play video: '‘The whole city is grieving right now’: Watson offers condolences to families of 3 killed in Ottawa bus crash'
‘The whole city is grieving right now’: Watson offers condolences to families of 3 killed in Ottawa bus crash
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson offered his sincere condolences to the families of the three people who died after a double-decker bus crashed into a shelter at the Westboro transit station on Friday. He asks Ottawa residents to continue praying for those injured still in hospital – Jan 14, 2019

Several recommendations made by the Transportation Safety Board after a 2013 transit bus crash in Ottawa have yet to be implemented by Transport Canada, the board says.

After an investigation into the deadly 2013 crash, in which a double-decker bus slammed into the side of a Via Rail train, the board, an independent entity that investigates rail, sea and air incidents in order to improve safety, called for “crashworthiness” standards on buses above 26,000 lbs and the addition of event data recorders on transit buses.

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Yet according to the board, there are still no standards for buses at that weight — which includes most transit buses — when it comes to frontal impact, side impact, rollover or crush protection.

The TSB says Friday’s deadly bus crash in Ottawa, along with other recent incidents, should expedite implementation of its 2013 recommendations.

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Last week’s double-decker transit bus crash in Ottawa that killed three people and injured 23 others, as well as the Humboldt hockey-team bus collision that killed 16 and injured 13 last April, highlight the need for passenger buses to meet stricter safety guidelines, says TSB chair Kathy Fox.

“We know that these buses don’t have to meet the same standards that our cars have to meet or that school buses have to meet, and we think that needs to change because in some types of collisions, they don’t necessarily have the kind of protection that passengers should be able to expect when they’re travelling on public transport.”

WATCH: Bus involved in fatal Ottawa crash removed from scene 

Click to play video: 'Bus involved in fatal Ottawa crash removed from scene'
Bus involved in fatal Ottawa crash removed from scene

While the TSB says that some progress has been made by Transport Canada, it believes significant work still has to be done.

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“Friday’s bus accident in Ottawa, coming on the heels of the 2018 Humboldt bus tragedy, and the earlier 2013 Ottawa bus-train accident, not to mention other examples, reinforces the urgent need for Transport Canada to take action on implementing crashworthiness standards for commercial buses,” said the board in a statement.

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On top of the lack of crashworthiness requirements, according to the TSB, there are also no requirements for buses to be equipped with a “black box” event data recorder, which are commonly used on other forms of commercial transportation such as air, sea and rail.

“All safety, regulatory, law enforcement and company accident investigations benefit from the efficient, timely and accurate collection, assimilation and analysis of available information,” the board said. “In many cases, EDRs (event data recorders) provide and validate much of this valuable information.”

Transport Canada does confirm that it has begun to implement some of the recommendations, such as mandating stability control on larger vehicles, as well as developing regulations for the use of on-board monitor displays to reduce distraction to drivers.

Rob Johnston, who led the investigation into the 2013 crash, says the OC Transpo double-decker bus did meet all applicable safety standards. The problem is, those standards need to be strengthened, he says.

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“The deficiency really lies with the Canadian motor-vehicle safety standards with regards to vehicles in excess of 26,000 (pounds),” he said.

“Without those standards being improved upon, there is going to be some risk,” he said, acknowledging that many people do travel safely on these vehicles daily.

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So far, Transport Canada has completed a review of collisions in urban centres to support the potential development of crashworthiness standards but has not provided a timeline for these developments.

The TSB still wants Transport Canada to do more.

“The TSB therefore calls upon Transport Canada to expedite its work on the development and implementation of such standards,” said the bureau.

With files from the Canadian Press

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