Route '269' to be retired, after fatal double-decker crash

Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa

The head of Ottawa's Transit Commission says the city will retire the bus route number involved in that horrific double-decker bus crash last month.

Ottawa Councillor Allan Hubley said today that Route 269 will become Route 257 as soon as the changes can be made. It's obviously a symbolic gesture and what some of the family members of those injured or killed in that crash wanted.  So the numbers will change but clearly not nearly as much as the lives of those impacted.

“269”:  they are just numbers but they convey so much meaning, so much emotion for every bus passenger who travels that section of the Transitway.

“It's kind of eerie,” says transit user Marc Jubinville, “I came here for the first time since the accident.  I feel sad for the people that succumbed to that.”

January 11, a double decker bus slammed into a structure at the Westboro bus station during rush hour.  Three people were killed and 23 others injured and a population of transit users left rattled with worry and grief.

 Over the ensuing weeks, that grief has manifested itself by way of a make-shift shrine at the spot where the accident occurred. 

Double deckers continue to travel along the route, including bus number 269.  But that number at least is poised to change.

The chair of Ottawa's Transit Commission says route 269 will become soon route 257.

“The family of one of the victims asked to make that change,” explains Ottawa Councillor Allan Hubley, “and we've also heard from other people in the accident or had family members in the accident who asked for that change so it's something we can do to accommodate their wishes.”

A similar move was made in the weeks after that fatal collision between a VIA train and a double decker bus that killed 6 people in July of 2013.  Route 76 was retired and replaced with route 72.

Clearly, it will take more than a number change to help people heal from that terrible tragedy.  But the route number change is something family members of the victims wanted it as a first step.

It is a step that transit users support as well.

“I'm fine with that idea,” says one man, “and if it helps give people a sense of closure that would be really important.”

“It's a symbolic act,” adds transit user Dennis Carr, “but sometimes the symbolism is really important.”

 Hubley says the new route number will be in place with the spring schedule change but that is tied to the LRT date. So, Hubley says so there is no firm time frame yet.  He promises plenty of notice before it happens.