Two seniors are each suing OC Transpo for $2.1 million for injuries they received after falling while riding the bus, allegedly because of bad driving.
According to their lawyer, these types of claims are becoming more common on Ottawa transit.
“It’s when (drivers) don’t wait for the people to sit down,” Brenda Hollingsworth said Thursday. “There are lots of accidents on the bus.”
Both statements of claim, which also name the city and
unidentified bus drivers as defendants, were filed in Superior Court last week.
The case hasn't been investigated thoroughly yet, so it's unclear at this point how culpable OC Transpo and the driver in question are in the injuries. Still, for anyone who's ridden the bus, it's easy to imagine such scenarios happening--and with relative frequency, although thankfully not always resulting in serious injuries. Many of the incidents may not even be the fault of drivers, but a natural result of growing bus congestion along bus corridors, general vehicle congestion along roadways, and an ever-increasing need to make good time along routes. Some drivers are certainly more aggressive than others, but even the best driver will have to accelerate or decelerate quickly in certain situation to avoid collisions or other incidents.
But do these incidents demonstrate a flaw with bus-rapid transit (BRT)? I believe they do, even if it's not a fatal flaw.
BRT is a rapid transit option that has many advantages, including low start-up costs and a high level of flexibility. But those advantages also have costs, especially to the comfort level of the ride: Bumpy roadways and aging buses can contribute to a rough ride, and the large number of vehicles each driven by independent-thinking operators will inevitably result in some abrupt starts or stops along the way.
Contrast this system with light-rail transit, or other train-based transit systems. They have higher start-up costs and are less flexible, but the tracks lead to a smoother ride and the vehicles accelerate and decelerate at a steady and (rarely) interrupted rate.
Improved comfort is far from the only advantage that a LRT system would boast, but in the face of a couple lawsuits totalling $4.2M, it could be a pretty valuable one.