The head of Ottawa's transit commission says the city is investigating Via Rail's claims that OC Transpo buses are to blame for two recent failures of the level crossing signals in Barrhaven.
In a statement released Tuesday, Via said OC Transpo buses twice failed to stop at a stop line when warning lights were flashing.
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Transit commission chair Diane Deans said the rail company didn't contact the city or OC Transpo directly Tuesday before issuing their explanation.
"Via has never raised this as an issue in any of the incidents that have been occurring for months. So this is a new issue," said Deans.
The first incident happened on Friday, April 25.
Then, in the most recent incident on Monday night, Via says the OC Transpo bus stopped under the gate as the gates were coming down.
"The damage caused to the gate prevented it from remaining upright thus, triggering the fail-safe mode and extending the period during which it remained in effect with lights flashing and bells ringing," the Via statement reads. It took about 30 minutes to fix the gates, Via said.
Via calls on city to prevent future issues with buses
VIA said the gates which were broken and bent and remained down until a crew repaired them. But in a photo of the Fallowfield crossing taken by CBC News it is clear the gates were up.
Via's interim CEO has written to Mayor Jim Watson and OC Transpo general manager John Manconi, asking the city to investigate the incidents and take steps to prevent them in the future.
"VIA Rail will provide any assistance required by the city in ensuring that its buses approach and drive through crossings safely," Steve Del Bosco is quoted as saying.
"As well, as stated on April 10 when VIA Rail announced additional measures for these crossings, we remain interested in co-operating with the city in its installation of cameras at these crossings in order to minimize inconveniences to the public by accelerating the response times of the appropriate personnel. These cameras may also provide both the City of Ottawa and Via Rail with better information of activities in the area."
Deans said John Manconi, the General Manager of OC Transpo, will be discussing what happens at the rail crossings with drivers.
"At the end of the day those signals need to be fixed and working long term and working all of the time 100 per cent of the time to restore confidence in a whole community," said Deans.
Via shouldn't focus on blame, says Harder
Barrhaven Councillor Jan Harder said Via should be less concerned about laying blame and more concerned about ensuring the crossings are safe.
"Via has said 'Ha-ha! This is where we can point the finger back at the city!" Harder said. "This is not about pointing fingers."
She said an OC Transpo crew was at the railway crossings Tuesday morning to see how the stop lines could be made safer.
"We were talking about being proactive by pulling back the white lines from the crossings till Via fixes their signals just to err on the side of caution so the crew was all ready before this letter came out," she said.