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Safety on the minds of riders after Westboro bus station crash

By Charlie Senack –

It will take months for Ottawa Police to investigate what exactly happened at the Westboro bus station on the afternoon of January 11, but some local transit users are now worried about how safe our busses really are.

It was the end of a busy work week, and thousands of people were travelling through Kitchissippi ward to get home to enjoy the weekend. What was supposed to be a safe trip home turned deadly for three people.

23 people were injured when a double-decker bus heading to Kanata collided with the overhang of the transitway station — leaving nine people in critical condition in hospital.

“This will be a long, detailed and complex investigation,” says Sergeant Graham from the collision investigation unit. “We are reviewing all aspects of the collision including the vehicle, the roadway, weather, and the driver’s actions.”

“Our job is to determine what caused the collision so we can learn from it and prevent such tragedies from happening again,” he added.

Many OC Transpo riders who use the transitway on a daily basis say they are worried a similar incident might happen again if things don’t change. Some transit riders say speeding is common on the transitway and are wondering if this could have been a cause in this crash.

“I never really liked the double-decker busses because I never really felt safe on them, but now I’m going to avoid them as much as possible,” says transit user Dawn Amo, who was on her way home from work. “I get nervous if I’m on a bus and they are flying down the transitway.”

That is exactly what happened to Aurel Bucalae as he was waiting at Tunney’s Pasture station to catch route 81 towards Clyde.

“The drivers need to be more careful,” says Aurel. “I’ve been waiting here for thirty minutes and the bus, route 81, was supposed to come. The driver came speeding by and he didn’t stop. Thankfully my transfer is good for another thirty minutes.”

Vanessa Davidson says she feels safe taking the bus, but says she will now pay more attention to where she sits — especially if she’s on a double-decker bus. Photo by Charlie Senack

Vanessa Davidson says she feels safe taking the bus, but says she will now pay more attention to where she sits — especially if she’s on a double-decker bus.

Ottawa Police have not released any information as to what caused the crash, but possible conditions include weather, road conditions, speed, and mechanical failure.

Whatever the reason is, Vanessa feels there are things OC Transpo can improve upon.

“It definitely feels a bit different and the busses I feel are definitely going a bit slower,” stated Vanessa the day after the crash. “I think OC Transpo should go over training and make sure that the busses are equipped with the right tires, brakes, etc…”

Some people are concerned to ride the bus again after this latest incident, but Leslie Scott from the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region says they are there to help. The organization has added extra volunteers to the phone lines to talk to people who are struggling.

“The worst thing you can do is bottle up those emotions and push them aside,” says Leslie. “Once we start doing that, then you’re going to have different feelings that come up. You might be more stressed, you might more anxious, you might be angry and you want to hit those head-on. You don’t want to bottle those up.”

Leslie added that you don’t have to be directly impacted by the incident to feel upset.

“There is anxiety that can come around it,” she added. “It might not come up this week, but six months down the line. You just need to be really aware of your emotions and how you’re feeling.”


Community mental health resources for Ottawa residents

  • The Distress Centre answers calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with crisis line specialists providing confidential support. Callers can reach the Centre at 613-238-3311.
  • The Mental Health Crisis Line answers calls for people ages 16 or older 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Callers can reach the line at 613-722-6914.
  • Tel-Aide Outaouais offers French-language mental health telephone support from 8 a.m. to midnight every day. Ottawa residents can call 613-741-6433 and Gatineau residents can contact 819-775-3223.
  • The Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868) provides confidential 24/7 phone and web counselling for children ages 20 and under.
  • The Youth Services Bureau (YSB) provides youth and family counselling, crisis support, a 24/7 crisis line at 613-260-2360, walk-in counselling and an online crisis chat service for youth at chat.ysb.ca.
  • The Walk-In Counselling Clinics provide free, confidential single session counseling sessions throughout Ottawa
    Ottawa Public Health Information at 613-580-6744 (TTY 613-580-9656).
  • 211 connects callers to community, social, government and health service information in Ottawa 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is free, confidential and multilingual.
    (via Ottawa Public Health)

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