Ottawa

Westboro bus crash report recommended station redesign, driver cameras, lower speeds

A confidential interim report connected to the Westboro bus crash trial and obtained by CBC News recommended a series of safety improvements to the Transitway, from improved station design to lower speed limits.

‘Confidential’ city report connected to trial of OC Transpo driver charged in bus crash

Transport Canada officials look at the scene where double-decker 8155 struck a transit shelter at Westboro Station in Ottawa in January 2019. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

A confidential interim report connected to the Westboro bus crash trial and obtained by CBC News recommended a series of safety improvements to the Transitway, from improved station design to lower speed limits.

The collision of an OC Transpo double-decker with a bus shelter on Jan. 11, 2019, injured at least 35 people and killed three — Judy Booth, Anja Van Beek and Bruce Thomlinson.

The driver, Aissatou Diallo, 44, has pleaded not guilty to all 38 dangerous driving charges against her.

The Westboro Collision Interim Review Report, produced by the City of Ottawa and OC Transpo, had been referenced in court and was inadvertently provided to CBC News by the defence, who thought it was publicly filed. 

Recommendations from OC Transpo detailed in the Oct. 30, 2020, report include lowering the speed limit on the Transitway through the station to 40 km/h, improving speed enforcement and monitoring on the private roadway, reviewing the design of structures to prevent buses from hitting them and considering the installation of cameras facing bus drivers.

The city said the report is confidential because it contains employment history protected in privacy laws.

None of the recommendations raised in the report explicitly refers to Diallo's employment or driving history.

Brandon Richards, the city's chief safety officer, said the recommendations in the report are drafts and professional engineering experts hired by the city are reviewing them.

Richards said that review should be completed later this year, though the interim report said it was expected to be done in 2020.

The city has accepted civil liability for the bus crash.

Review speeds, station design

The recommendations consider the issue of speed along the entire Transitway at length and call for officials to consider lowering the limit at Westboro station to 40 km/h, either temporarily or permanently.

Court has heard — and the interim report notes — that the double-decker was travelling above the posted 50 km/h speed limit when it left the roadway.

The report recommends reviewing the frequency of speed enforcement on the Transitway and developing a system that would alert bus drivers they're exceeding the speed limit by using onboard GPS and computers.

Another recommendation, which the report says dates to March 2019, suggests reviewing the design of the station to "prevent bus contact."

A westbound double-decker pulls into Westboro station on May 13, 2021. The posted speed limit is 50 km/h and there are no visible changes to the placement of the shelter or structure of the platform from 2019. (Brian Morris/CBC)

More than two years later, there have been no visible changes to the design of Westboro station as far as additional barriers on the platform, placement of the bus shelter or the shelter overhang.

The recommendation for cameras facing operators is attributed to Transport Canada in the report. However, in a statement, Transport Canada said it never made that recommendation and deferred to the city. 

Recommendations address memorials, training

The report also considers the driver training program, recommending a review of the new bus operator program and calling for "enough 'real time' experience on all fleet vehicles."

The city's auditor-general's November 2020 report of the same training program reached similar findings.

The report also weighs in on how the city handles tragedies and the days that follow, saying the processes should be reviewed with a mind to short-term and long-term memorials, as well as how stations would reopen after an incident.

The report includes the recommendation of retiring route number 269, though that had been done more than a year before the report's date.

Diallo's trial, by judge alone, is expected to resume on June 1 in the Ontario Court of Justice in Ottawa.

Corrections

  • The Westboro Collision Interim Review Report was not publicly filed in court. Incorrect information appeared in a previous version of this story.
    May 14, 2021 7:02 PM ET

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