Via says OC Transpo bus didn't cause malfunction but did cross line

Via Rail has admitted an OC Transpo bus did not cause a Barrhaven crossing to malfunction earlier this week, but it did say the bus did cross the stop line and called the breach "unacceptable."

Monday failure at Fallowfield intersection had been blamed on an OC Transpo bus

Via Rail has admitted an OC Transpo bus did not cause a Barrhaven crossing to malfunction earlier this week,but it did say the bus crossed the stop line and blocked the rail crossing gate.

Crews worked to repair the lights of a crossing signal on Fallowfield Road in Ottawa Friday, April 4, 2014. The signal malfunctioned again on Monday. (Simon Gardner/CBC)
On Monday evening the lights of a rail crossing signal on Fallowfield Road went on but the gate remained up, requiring Ottawa police to man the intersection.

The next day, Via blamed the problem on an OC Transpo bus that had stopped under the gate as the gates were coming down, and said a similar incident had happened on Friday.

VIA had said the gates 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.

In a news release on Thursday, Via Rail said the bus had crossed the stop line and only backed up after it was struck by the north gate. But that was not cause the "failsafe" mode, they admitted. A malfunction at the  south gate was identified as the cause.

They called the bus driver's mistake an "unacceptable" breach.

Mayor asks for retraction 

Earlier Thursday Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson had asked the rail agency to retract its earlier statement blaming OC Transpo for the malfunction after technical staff determined the bus was not the problem.

A police officer helps direct traffic as the Fallowfield rail crossing lights went on but the arm stayed up. (Kim Drummond/CBC)

Via had earlier told the city on Friday the Fallowfield Road crossing was one of four crossings in Barrhaven they had fixed in response to the warning system repeatedly malfunctioning at the tracks in the last three months.

The warning system troubles at the level crossings are particularly troubling in Barrhaven, the south Ottawa community where six people died in a September crash between an OC Transpo bus and a Via commuter train.