Documents obtained by Global News through a freedom-of-information request are shedding new light on what the City of Edmonton is doing to investigate blind spots on buses.
For more than five years, they have been cited as a potential cause for collisions that involve city buses and now Global News has learned no formal internal reviews have been completed.
Last month, paramedics worked on a patient following yet another collision involving a bus and a pedestrian.
A woman crossing a downtown street was hit by a turning bus and suffered minor injuries.
“No driver wants to get involved in a collision, particularly with a pedestrian,” said Steve Bradshaw, the president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569.
Over the last five years, three people in Edmonton have been struck and killed by buses.
The union representing drivers said after every incident that large blind spots may have played a role.
The city has promised internal reviews on the issue. New information suggests no broader blind-spot investigation was done.
“I’m very disappointed to hear that,” Bradshaw said.
A freedom-of-information request asking for results of internal reviews into bus blind spots found no such records exist.
The city said it investigates each incident individually.
“ETS has certified collision investigators who conduct thorough collision investigations for each incident to determine preventability and root cause to determine if it was preventable,” the city said. “If a collision is deemed preventable, the city’s performance-management procedures apply and if an individual investigation finds an equipment flaw or failure that was determined to be the root cause, the city would put mitigations in place.
“Our operators are trained to a high standard, including national occupational standards through the Motor Carrier Passenger Council of Canada. All transit operators undergo extensive professional driver training that teach our operators how to safely drive in the many situations they encounter every day, including how to mitigate and respond to hazards while safely operating the bus and defensive driving practices, which include how to look around blind spots. We review driver performance, conduct regular driver evaluations and offer remedial training if any concerns are noted to help ensure the safest level of service possible. We also have quarterly safety campaigns to ensure staff are keeping safety in mind at all times.”
The city added none were necessary following the recent investigations, but Bradshaw said the kind of review needed for blind spots is different.
“When the city commits to doing a review of something as important that it could be costing people (their) lives, one would expect that they would follow through and conduct that review,” he said.
“We need to do a proper internal investigation. The union should be involved with that.”
As a former bus driver, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said he is all too familiar with blinds spots, but he is not sure why no broad internal review has been done.
“I experienced that,” he said. “We will definitely follow up with our city administration on that particular issue.
“We want to make sure that our transit operators are able to provide service in the safest way possible.”
“We look forward to talking to them and reviewing what evidence we have with them, again,” Bradshaw said.