Posted on March 10, 2014 | Ray Gompf | Written on March 10, 2014
Letter type:

Author's Note:

Author's Note:

Having spent a life time in the transportation industry, I feel qualified and justified to make comment.

City hall has found another useless way to spend more of our money. They’ve hired a consultant to study whether it would be safer to have OC Transpo buses stop at railway crossings or not. The first thing is spending money to waste on a consultant for an exercise that doesn’t need much further study. It’s not like there’s no case studies already in Canada. Every school bus in Canada stops at every railway crossing everywhere. No ifs ands or buts. It’s the law. Every commercial vehicle engaged in the transport of dangerous goods must stop at every railway crossing everywhere. In most cities across Canada, ones that are only subject to provincial rules, public transport vehicles must stop at every rail crossing everywhere. Ottawa is in a unique position being that some of our city buses cross a provincial boundary thus only Federal regulations kick in. Federal regulations supersede Provincial regulations in such cases. All city council needs to do, is pass a regulation requiring OC Transpo buses follow the rules and regulations to stop at all railway crossings. The smoke screen of even talking about it being less safe is absolutely without merit. Trucks with Dangerous Goods; Intercity Buses; School Buses all, as they are approaching a rail crossing engage their four way flashers and slow to a stop. Once stopped, they are required to roll down the windows in the case of trucks, open the doors in the case of buses, listen, look and then proceed across the track without changing a gear while crossing. It’s not rocket science. It’s well written into existing regulations. As for the myth that it’s unsafe and that cars will be crashing into the bus, that’s utter nonsense. If someone crashes into a stopped bus even stopped on the travel lane of a highway speed road, then they shouldn’t be in possession of a driver’s license in the first place. As to the nonsense of “well we might stall out on the tracks”. If you’re going to stall out, then you’ll risk stalling out at the twenty kilometres per hour that is the legal speed limit crossing any rail crossing in the country or at acceleration. Stop this waste of time effort and money and just pass the bylaw ensuring OC Transpo falls in line with the rest of the country having our public transportation vehicles stop at rail crossings period full stop. And furthermore, have the police ensure compliance of the speed limit while crossing railway tracks. It’s 20 kmph people. Slow down and don’t be a statistic. G. Ray Gompf, CD Ottawa, Ontario.

About The Author

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Ray Gompf was born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1943 into a family that has been in Canada since the 1780’s. Ray was educated in Dunnville and Hamilton, Ontario. He entered the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps in 1961... More


Jan L

In my opinion, when the City was building the Southwest Transitway between Nepean Sportsplex and Fallowfield Station in 2004-05, they should have grade-separated the Transitway from the railway tracks near Fallowfield. Yes, the cost of grade-separation during the construction would have been higher due to soil issues, but that money would have been well spent.

Forcing every buses to come to a full stop at the railway crossing on the Transitway near Fallowfield, especially during rush hours when there a high volume of buses, will slow down service. And as a bus rider myself, I am not interested in slower service.

Mike B

So Jan L

I and all other resident of ONTARIO are much more focused & interested on the SAFETY rather than speed of service.. If you want faster service to and from point A to B buy yourself a car or a bike to get there. IMO if it's LAW for a school bus to Stop at all rail crossings then it should be THE LAW for all OC Transpo buses end of story !!

Jan L

Well given that OC is trying to increase ridership (and rightfully so), bus service needs to be able to compete with the automobile. Slowing down service by forcing buses to stop at the crossing on the Transitway near Fallowfield will make service unattractive for those in Barrhaven. I don't live in Barrhaven, but U have buses there a few times and know that area.

And besides, the City (according to recent media coverage) has ruled out forcing OC buses to stop at all railway crossing until they are instructed to do so.

Once again, grade-separation is the answer to addressing safety AND speed of service.

If my life was in danger, it would come first before how quickly I got there. If keeping to their schedules is more important for OC Transpo, I suggest they modify their schedules to take into account the very simple solution of stopping at rail crossings, turning on their four-way flashers and looking both ways, before crossing.

I suspect that the City consultant report you're refering to was written to help reduce liability. In the face of everything we already know about safety and rail crossings, its unlikely this report is accurate. ie. It was written for legal purpose to help defend the city from the many law suits it faces as a result of the accident last fall, not to provide a safer commute for Ottawa residents.

Ron Benn

The logic in the article is irrefutable. There are no capital expenditure requirements, and very limited operational issues. Arguments to the effect of increases in travel times will impact OC Transpo service levels are without merit. OC Transpo's "on time" record is abysmal in the first place, and the time between stops on routes that cross train tracks can be adjusted to reflect the extra 20-30 seconds it takes to follow the protocol described by Mr. Gompf.

Perhaps the problem with implementing the solution is that, by making the proposed changes now, the city may be increasing its exposure to legal liability to the passengers of the OC Transpo bus that was involved in the incident with the Via Rail train. The plaintiffs may be able to argue that the failure to have this policy in place before the incident occurred is an admission of "guilt".

When the advice of legal counsel trumps common sense, public safety solutions, you know you have poor leadership. This is but another example to support that conclusion.

I spent last weekend in Waterloo and as it happened was sitting on a bench (waiting for my wife and daughter to complete their shopping) on King Street in Waterloo right by where a little used freight line crosses the street. Every bus - Grand River Transit and GO Transit - came to a full stop before crossing, even if they had just left the bus stop a few metres to the south. Makes sense! If OC Transpo really cannot stop at railway crossings, then separate the grades.