'It's OK to cry': Elizabeth gets back on the bus, with a little help
Elizabeth Langan surrounded by supporters as she boarded double-decker on route 269
Elizabeth Langan is thanking Ottawa's bus-riding community for all its support after she boarded bus route 269 for the first time since she was involved in last week's fatal crash at Westboro station.
With her mother by her side and a transit buddy close by, provided by OC Transpo, Langan stepped onto a double-decker bus Friday morning and immediately recognized the driver.
"Morning, Elizabeth," he said with a smile.
Moments earlier, a fellow rider and friend gave Langan a beaded bracelet for comfort, giving her the extra bit of confidence she needed.
"It gives energy and brings security," said the woman. "It brings love, confidence and calm, so this is for you to wear."
Several riders offered smiles and nods of encouragement, as she settled into priority seating, the same seat she was in when the bus crashed into the shelter last week.
OC Transpo offers support
Langan's mother, Lyne Filion, said she was contacted by OC Transpo general manager John Manconi on Thursday, after Langan's family posted photos of her on Facebook, asking for some help.
Filion said Manconi had been touched by Langan's story and wanted to help make sure she returned to being the independent bus traveller she was before the crash.
"He understood completely that I didn't want Para Transpo, [because] that would not be helpful in the long run," said Filion. "This is what is needed, is for her to get back into her routine, get back on the bus."
Manconi arranged to have an OC Transpo supervisor follow the bus downtown in case Langan needed to get off and go home, and for a transit buddy to tag along until she's ready to travel alone.
"I'm very thankful," said Filion, "just really happy that they did this and they reached out to us."
Tears at Westboro station
Langan bobbed her head to music as the bus made its way through her Bridlewood neighbourhood, past the Eagleson park-and-ride and onto the Transitway.
"We gave Elizabeth strategies to listen to her music, a lot of friends and family are texting her this morning and sending her positive vibes, and so she's reading those now," said Filion.
But when the bus system announced Westboro station, Langan's mood shifted. Tears streamed down her face and she looked at her mother with fear in her eyes.
"Westboro," she said.
"You're OK, Elizabeth, you're safe," Filion replied, holding tightly onto her daugher's arm. "It's OK to cry."
As the bus zoomed by the station, pride beamed from Filion as Langan's tears gave way to a smile.
"You did it," she said.
The rest of the ride downtown went smoothly with light conversation about the art program Langan was headed to and her favourite characters on the soap opera The Young and the Restless.
When she stepped off the bus at Bay and Slater streets, the 25-year-old was all smiles, giving high-fives all around.