Railway crossings worry Thunder Bay bus drivers

With so many rail crossings over busy Thunder Bay streets, the head of the bus drivers' union in Thunder Bay says safety is always a concern.

School buses are required to stop at all rail crossings, but city buses are not

The head of the Thunder Bay Transit bus drivers union says many of the railway tracks that cut through the city are travelled by freight trains, which go more slowly than a passenger trains. (Adam Burns/CBC)

With so many rail crossings over busy Thunder Bay streets, the head of the bus drivers' union in Thunder Bay said safety is always a concern.

As a veteran driver for Thunder Bay Transit, Sheila Kivisto said she was horrified by Wednesday's accident involving a transit bus and a train in Ottawa. The accident highlights why she always takes extra care when approaching railway tracks.

Sheila Kivisto, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 966, makes a presentation to Thunder Bay city council. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

“I am very careful around rail crossings especially because they are on main arteries here in Thunder Bay,” she said.

“[Look] at Memorial and Fort William Road ... I certainly don't take that lightly. Another area is in Westfort, in and around where they do a lot of shunting."

In Ontario, school buses are required to stop at all rail crossings regardless of whether they have automatic warning devices.

That's not the case for transit buses. Kivisto said she's not sure why, but perhaps it should be re-evaluated.

Kivisto added it's important to find out exactly what happened in Wednesday’s bus crash in Ottawa.

When approaching railways crossings, Kivisto said many Thunder Bay Transit drivers “are aware that there could possibly be a train coming. My worst fear is that those lights aren't working, so I'm looking to see that there isn't a train coming."

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