O-Train operators now required to ‘immediately answer’ emergency calls onboard trains

O-Train operators are now required to “immediately answer” all emergency calls onboard the Confederation Line.

A report for the Transit Commission outlines the new policy for operators responding to emergency calls on the Passenger Emergency Intercom two months after an assault on an O-Train vehicle at Rideau Station.

Ottawa police officers responded to an assault on the O-Train at Rideau Station on Dec. 8. OC Transpo special constables arrested one person in connection to the assault.

There were comments on social media and Reddit that suggested the emergency intercom wasn’t working or that no one picked up during the incident on the train.

In an inquiry to transit staff, Coun. Rawlson King asked about the protocols for the emergency intercom button, noting witnesses to the assault said the button for the Passenger Emergency Intercom button was pressed, but there was no response.

“Just a dial tone,” King said.

In response to King’s inquiry, Transit Services General Manager Renee Amilcar said records show that 30 seconds elapsed between the button being pushed to the call being answered by the operator.

Amilcar says all calls on the Passenger Emergency Intercom go directly to the O-Train operator on board the train.

“If conditions allow for safe communication while the train is moving, the Operator will continue to the next station while communicating with the caller and then contact Main Line Control on arrival,” Amilcar said, adding operators are trained to treat each call as an emergency “requiring immediate attention.”

Operators are responsible for contacting OC Transpo’s transit operations control centre, and a response is then dispatched for special constables, emergency services or a supervisor.

Amilcar says “as part of our lessons learned”, emergency intercom procedures have been updated to state that operators “must now immediately answer all PEI calls”. 

“If operating conditions are unsafe, passengers may be asked to stand by briefly until the Operator can safely support.”

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